Naming Your Brand – Critical Mistakes to Avoid


Your brand name is often the first thing that customers hear about your company. Like your logo and other visual assets, your chosen name plays a critical role in building your brand. It can also be the difference-maker between two similar products or service offerings.

What makes a brand name good or even great?

A good name is not randomly chosen. Take a quick look at the most popular brand names, and you will notice a sense of intention, a hint of creativity, and attention to detail.

Finding the right name for your brand is by no means an easy process. However, you will fare better knowing which pitfalls to avoid.

Too many cooks…

Bringing in too many people to select an appropriate name for your brand is a significant mistake for two reasons.

First, there is the possibility that you might alienate the people whose suggested name was not picked. Like it or not, people seek recognition, and that can prevent you from approaching the selection process with an objective mindset.

Second, if there are too many people involved in the process, there is the risk of taking the safest route, resulting in a lackluster name.

Instead of trying to democratize the process of selecting a brand name, you should only include the key decision-makers in your company, plus a brand consultant.

Creating a Frankenstein’s monster of a name

Initially, it might sound quirky, original, and creative, but trying to combine two seemingly disparate adjectives into a unique-sounding noun can often look and sound forced.

Combining the words that you think best represent your company and brand may sound like a good idea, especially when executed well. Executed incorrectly, however, and you are essentially creating something awkward.

Plain as vanilla

On the converse side of the coin, there are some companies that try to use plain words as their brand names. The adverse side effect of doing this is you have a name that not only looks and sounds dull but also a name that your target audience will barely remember.

The only time that you can get away with this is if you are pioneering an industry.

Shooting darts on a map

Some companies take pride in their area of origin, so they try to include it in their name.

The primary drawback in that is customers might think that these companies only service a specific area. By going by that route, you may unintentionally alienate a massive number of potential customers.

Too cool for recognition

A good brand name will help create a distinction between your company and its competitors. But if you choose a name that is too obscure for your intended audience, there is a risk that people who encounter your brand name will become stumped and even forget about it.

Your brand name is not your fate

You’ve chosen the wrong name for your brand. It’s evident with the way that clients perceive it. Now what?

Some companies try to stick with the wrong names that they initially chose, thinking that things will work themselves out. This only leads to missed opportunities and potential, especially if you have an excellent product or service.

Simply put, a bad brand name is not and should not be your fate.

You can straighten things out and choose a different name for your brand. In fact, a lot of the most popular brands have done it before you. The popular brand 3M was previously called Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining. Believe it or not, Google’s predecessor was called BackRub. The rest, as you already know, is history.

Who knows, your brand name may become so popular in its niche that it may end up as one of the many everyday words currently in use. Words like zipper, onesie, popsicle, realtors and granola are examples of brand names that have made it into people’s general vocabulary.

The right foundation

Like your logo, the name you choose for your brand will serve as the foundation for your success. And just like a building or a house, if you build it on a weak or faulty foundation, you may not get the desired results. You may even end up harming your brand over the long term.

Fortunately, if you find yourself stuck in the brand name selection process, there are professionals that specialize in helping businesses find the right name for their brand. All you need to do is to ensure you partner with the best who can deliver.


Stuart Harris is the Creative Director at Yellow, a Dubai branding agency, digital partner and advertising company working with progressive businesses to build bold, meaningful brands.

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