Brand names are like poetry. In a word or two you are capturing the essence of a company, product, or service. It’s a simple phrase that contains so much meaning.
Naming is far from simple. It’s one of the most creative practices in marketing, because the palette is so large. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of ways to construct words for your brand.
In this post I dissect the types of brand names and examine them from two perspectives: categories and construction.
Three Categories of Brand Names
Brand names fall into three fundamental categories: descriptive, suggestive, and empty vessel. The three categories are like archetypes. They guide you, and help you determine the kind of story you want to tell.
Descriptive names describe what is the product or service.
- Whole Foods
- Toys “R” Us
- Shredded Wheat
Descriptive brand names are functional, and clearly position the brand. There’s no ambiguity in Shredded Wheat.
Suggestive brand names indicate what a product or service delivers. They can function as a metaphor, analogy, or an association. Twitter, for instance, is a communication platform that’s like a flock of birds tweeting at each other.
Suggestive names are the most popular category of brand names, because they are unique and functional. They’re a creative way to position your brand by building upon an idea your customers already understand.
Empty vessel brand names have no connection to the product or service. They may be unrelated words like Apple or Caterpillar, or invented words like Verizon and Kodak. The name is unencumbered and the word becomes the brand.
An empty vessel is infinitely flexible. It can mean anything. The challenge is it takes more time and marketing resources to infuse the name with meaning. Educating your customers on what the brand is or what it delivers has to become part of the ethos of the company.
The Construction of Brand Names
Within the three categories of brand names there are dozens of types of names that you can use to select the right word or phrase to represent your brand.
- H. J. Heinz Company
- Ford Motor Company
Historical or Made-up Figures
- Tesla Motors
- Dr. Pepper
- Sid Lee
Invented Words – Greek or Latin Roots
Invented Words – Phonetic
- World of Woolcraft
- Wok This Way
- Tequila Mockingbird
Get Creative in Brand Naming
Understanding the various types of brand names creates opportunities. It’s like giving an artist more colors to paint with.
Brand naming rewards creativity. In the name generation phase explore as many categories and types of names for your brand as possible. The objective should always be to leave no stone unturned.
We’re here and always happy to chat. Feel free to Contact Us with any questions, comments or ideas.