The Name Game

Why Your Brand's Name is Everything

Let’s face it, brand naming is hard. As Brand and marketing expert @bernadettejiwa puts it “Communicating the essence of your idea or business in just a word or two is part science, part art.”

The world is full of thousands of brands that start up with the best of intensions and are eager to make a dent in the marketplace, but sadly, their name gives their customer’s no reason to remember them and no reason to go back.

The main reason why this happens is because the name is either too abstract, too long, lacks outside meaning, and is hard to spell or remember.  Or it could also be way too generic – like, or – making it equally as unmemorable.

Your brand name needs to allow you to make room for the story that your brand is creating. Can it grow with you? Can it become something more than it is today? For example, can really only sell books. Whereas can sell books, toys, food, and essentially anything and everything (as they are proving to be true). Why is this? Well, the story behind the meaning of Amazon’s brand is that the Amazon is the largest flowing river in the world, just like their website can be the largest online store in the world.

Now there is nothing wrong with going niche, in fact niche is a very good thing. After all, clear differentiation is the reason why consumers choose a brand in the first place. Even brands in a highly saturated market, such as bottled water, find ways to make themselves more of a niche market. Fiji, for example is water from the Fiji Islands and is full of minerals, and Evion is natural spring water from the French Alps. Each seeks a relative distinction in order to gain long term sales.

Ideally, when choosing a name, the name itself should embody the essence of your brand. The name alone should provide an understanding of what the brand represents, just like you don’t need a brochure to understand the benefit of Fit and Trim Dog Food.


Now for your brand tagline. Taglines are not a must, but they do help emphasize the relevance behind the name and makes the services that you offer more memorable.

Here are the “3 Ms” to a meaningful tagline: As you build your tagline keep these in mind.

  • Meaningful: Why should your target care? (ex: “Welcome to the next level” speaks to the consumer gamer and the superiority of the brand)
  • Motivating: Causes the target audience to want to purchase, stimulates action. (“Think different” from apple)
  • Memorable: The tagline needs to stay in the consumer mind.

Nike’s “Just Do It” and Energizer’s “It keeps going and going and going…” for example embodies all three of the Ms.


Certainly, there are many great brands that have no inherent meaning – i.e. Apple, McDonalds, Rolex, Mercedes, etc. The meaning and value behind these brands has been built over the years through millions of dollars in advertising and exposure. In short, a name with inherent meaning isn’t a requirement for a successful brand, but it does make the job much easier – and a whole lot cheaper.

So as you start to think about your new brand name, identifying a point of differentiation is fundamental for brand identity – but it is difficult. What makes your brand unique? Are you communicating this to your customers? And how are you positioning yourself as an expert in your field?


To learn more about brand naming, we strongly suggest reading “Effective Branding Begins with a Name” by Brian D. Till and Donna D. Heckler. 

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