10 Naming Criteria for Brand Names

Your brand name is the shortest but most powerful story you tell about your company. It should connect with your audience and communicate a tangible perception of your product or service. So how do you accomplish all of that in just one to three words? Keep these ten criteria in mind as you choose a brand name.

It’s engaging and memorable. You might use poetic devices such as alliteration, consonance, or assonance to create a memorable “sound”. Or the name might strike a certain sense of imagination (think: Tesla).

It’s distinctive. Your name should stand out from the crowd. It shouldn’t sound like anything else on the market.

It sounds natural. Does the name roll off the tongue and feel natural? No one wants to talk about something that feels awkward, negative, or unpleasant.

It’s concise. Brand names need to be memorable and short enough to fit onto packaging. Longer names often get abbreviated. That can render them meaningless.

It evokes a vision. What do you “see” in your mind’s eye when you say or read your brand name? That vision should be synonymous with your intended image.

It’s easy to spell and pronounce. In order to spread awareness, fans of your brand need to be able to talk about it. And if your brand name is difficult to spell, it’s also difficult to research online.

It’s appropriate. Your name should authentically express your brand’s message and voice. Choose something that evokes the feeling of your product. For example, Fitbit sounds energetic and simple.

It stands the test of time. A good brand name doesn’t box you in. If you expand in the future, move into international markets, or cultural trends shift, will the name still suit the company and its offerings?

It’s culturally sensitive. Do your research; ensure your brand name is free of any negative meanings in other cultures or languages. One example is Chevrolet’s debut of one of its sporty and popular cars in the early 1960s. While Nova sounded great in English, in Spanish, “no va” means “not going.”

It’s available. Don’t get too attached to any brand name without researching its availability for trademark. Check on a domain name too; these days, there’s no point choosing a name that you can’t market online.

These ten criteria should help you brainstorm ideas for branding your company. For more guidance on this process, check out our previous blog on choosing a brand name, and contact our business planning attorney for legal input on trademarking and more.


Picture of Michael Kimball, Esq.

Michael Kimball, Esq.

Mike Kimball offers practical, timely, and economical legal solutions that move projects along and allow you to focus more on your core business objectives. He has years of experience partnering with companies ranging from Silicon Valley startups to firms in aerospace, biotech, construction, and many more. Mike’s in-house experience includes Yahoo!, Krux Digital (acquired by Salesforce), and Commerce One. He has worked on transactions with Eurostar, Red Bull, Major League Baseball, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Liveramp, Amazon, and NASCAR.