With millions of registered trademarks in the U.S. alone, it’s no secret that emerging brand names, ranging from pharmaceuticals to technology, and everything in between, are facing an uphill battle trying to find a differentiated, strategic, world-class name.
Although there are more opportunities than ever for new businesses and brands to grab their own little corner of the market, brands also have the opportunity to get creative with their brand naming strategies.
Many brands use several different naming strategies, such as a play on words, a combination of words, and unique spellings. However, there is more that goes into a solid naming strategy than simply thinking of a creative word or term. In fact, determining the right naming strategy for your business is a huge decision, and is ultimately tied to your business’ overall success.
In this article, we will discuss what to consider in a naming strategy, review the different naming types and opportunities, and look at several examples of the world’s most successful brand names, and why their naming strategies work.
What to Consider in a Naming Strategy
There are many factors to consider in a naming strategy. However, two key elements are name type and word type.
When selecting the following considerations, you will want to keep other strategic elements such as your overall naming architecture in mind. For example, will your name fit within a portfolio of names, or will it stand on its own? What other name types does your company use? What are your competitors using? Do you want to keep your new name consistent with others or differentiate it?
Throughout this series of articles, we will elaborate on elemental strategic insights needed to create a successful brand name.
Like sandboxes, you can play in all of the name types upfront. It is important to become increasingly more strategic as you pair them down throughout the naming process, or you could select several options to work with to remain strategically focused from the outset.
The three common name types include the following:
- Descriptive – Descriptive names are clear, recognizable, and easily communicated. However, this also means they can be difficult to legally protect and clear. These types of names are also the weakest brand names and can be limiting for future growth.
- Suggestive – Suggestive names evoke the benefits and features. By reading a suggestive brand name, the reader might understand the purpose of the business, product, or service; however, some supportive documentation might be required to clearly communicate purpose and value.
- Empty Vessel – The “empty vessel” refers to names that don’t have any obvious association. These brand names are strong and the easiest to legally clear and protect, however, they will likely require some supportive documentation and communication.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that these name types cannot be powerful and impactful. Your business or brand will likely need to get more creative in how you choose to communicate a specific tone, voice, and feeling through your selected name. This may include conveying tone specific attributes through particular letters and letter strings. For example, the use of explosive consonants such as ‘t,’ or ‘k,’ verses voiced consonants like ‘m,’ or ‘l,’ can convey a much more powerful, revolutionary, or active tone.
Now that you have a better understanding of what a name type is and why it’s important, here are three common word types and some examples.
Following are word types that can be combined with the aforementioned name types: descriptive, suggestive, and empty vessel.
- Current Usage – These are everyday words that are found in the dictionary. They are descriptive, clear, recognizable, and easily communicated, but can be difficult to protect legally.
One example of a current usage name type is Tissue Studio. Tissue Studio is a product of Definiens, a global leader in image analysis for digital pathology and diagnostics. Tissue Studio is a tissue image analysis software used by scientists and bio technicians in academic medical centers, comprehensive cancer centers, and biotech and pharmaceutical companies.
One can likely discern the benefits and solutions when looking at or reading the brand name Tissue Studio. This makes it a descriptive name type.
- Hybrid Neologisms – These are two words cloned together to create one new word. These names are often creative and unique but may require some supportive communication to communicate the benefits and value. These types of brand names are generally easier to legally clear and protect.
Facebook is one of the most popular examples of a hybrid neologism word type. It is a hybrid of two common words: “face” and “book”. It is also a suggestive name type, meaning that although it is comprised of two recognizable, common words, communicating its features, benefits, and value may require some supporting documentation.
- Neologisms – These are coined words that are completely made up. They often require supportive communication in order to communicate benefits and solutions. These word types are generally easier to clear and protect legally.
Artiss is a drug designed for custom plastic surgery. It is used as a skin sealant to close an incision or wound. Artiss is a great example of a neologism as it is a completely unique and made-up name.
What You Need to Know Upfront to Create a Successful Brand Name
In today’s highly competitive, fast-paced world, it might be easy to put a trendy or creative spin on a new brand or product. However, it’s important to understand that trends can and will change. Today’s trends likely won’t stand the test of time. What is considered a trendy, popular brand name today might not be as attractive tomorrow.
Therefore, if you have long-term goals and aspirations for your business, then avoid brand names that risk becoming obsolete. Whether you choose to go with a current name, a hybrid neologism, or a neologism, remember to focus on how your product or service benefits customers and drives value.
Of course, choosing a name for your business, product, or service is an important decision. Although, name types and opportunities are just one key element in an overall branding strategy. Your brand also has a personality.
Be on the lookout for our next article on how to determine a brand personality as well as how creative strategies are elemental in the creation of a world-class brand name.