10 Steps for a Better Brand Name


"Your brand name is only as good as your reputation." – Richard Branson


What’s in a name? Well, a lot in terms of branding - which is probably why we tend to brainstorm at warp speed when it comes to renaming. But once you’ve come up with a short list of 10 to 20 ideas, how can you evaluate the contenders with a bit more objectivity?  

Try out these 10 evaluators to see how your names stack up. While many of these scoring categories are subjective (like the olympics!) rating each attribute on a scale of 1-10 will help you short list your strongest options and really go for gold.



1. Trademark


Does the trademark look available in a top line search of the USPTO*? Yes, your topline search looks clear and the name is likely available in category. Maybe, the search reveals some similar names, but should pass the market confusion test** Nope, someone already snagged it.


2. Googliness


Is it available as a reasonably simple domain name and lend itself to natural search results? Is it safe against alternate domain parking (ugh, trolls) and unintended or unsavory search results (thanks a lot urban dictionary).


3. Appearance


How well might the name translate into typography or a symbol? Try doodling the name in lowercase, caps and mixed case to evaluate legibility and visual appeal. Does it suggest a meaningful symbol?


4. Distinctiveness


How differentiated is a given name from your competition? Will it stand out in the consumers mind or blend in?


5. Depth


Does the name have more than one layer of meaning or association. Names with great depth never reveal all your venture has to offer all at once, but keep surprising you with new ideas.


6. Energy


How much vitality does it have? Does it suggest positive emotions or outcomes that are important to your audiences?


7. Humanity


This is a measure of a name’s “humanness” or warmth - in contrast to names that are names that are cold, technical, or unemotional.  Having humanity is tied a brand’s relatability.


8. Relevance


Is the name relevant to the brand’s positioning, the service offered, or to the industry served? Keep in mind that relevance isn’t necessarily a literal description, but can also suggest the emotion or outcomes realized from interacting with the brand.


9. Sound


Evaluating a name’s phonetics is twofold - how it sounds and how easily it is spoken by those who matter most: the potential customer. Word of mouth is great, but if people aren’t comfortable saying the name, the word won’t get out.


10. Mystique


This attribute can be a force for brand magic (in the right category). An appliance line probably doesn’t benefit much from mystery while a lingerie brand likely will.


*USPTO, is the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the government entity where tradmarks are filed (™)  or registered (®)

**Market confusion is the standard by which your brand name submission will be evaluated by USPTO lawyers.  Simply put you submission will fail if it looks or sounds to similar to a product or service in your category thus creating “market confusion”. For example, you won’t be able to call your new car company “Phord”.


david barnum