7 attributes of a good brand name



How can you tell a good name from a bad name? Is it all just personal preference, or is there more of a science to naming? Well, we believe there are 7 attributes of a good brand name.

And no one defines them more clearly than Marty Neumeier in his branding book Zag. He outlines how a good name should be distinctive, brief, appropriate, easy to spell and say, likeable, extendable and protectable.

Below we look at each attribute in detail, as well as some of our team’s favourite examples of each.


What do you stand for in the mind of your customers?

In the last blog, we talked about how critically important it is to understand this and the concept of brand positioning. And we looked at the various ways you can influence this perception your consumers have of you.

But what if you’ve already etched out a really clear position and it’s now no longer working for you? This blog is all about our favourite type of branding projects – repositioning.

These projects are not without their challenges. Catching someone’s attention once in today’s cluttered marketplace is tough. To do it twice and change someone’s perception of you – well, difficult doesn’t quite sum it up.

But that’s probably why we love these projects so much. They push the boundaries of our thinking and creativity.



1. Distinctive

First things first – does your name stand out from the crowd? You need to think about what you uniquely offer customers versus competitors and try and communicate that in your name. Set yourself apart in the market.

Which is exactly what George Eastman set out to do when he invented the Kodak camera. He wanted to create a completely unique and ownable name that was unlike anything else in the market. Coupled with a grá for the letter K, Kodak was the result – a great example of a distinctive brand name.


kodak camera



2. Brief

It should be short enough to easily remember. Will it avoid being reduced to a nickname, or worse, a meaningless set of initials? One of our favourite examples of a brief name is LUSH.

In a highly competitive beauty industry, LUSH stands apart. It champions natural, fresh, luxurious handmade beauty products. None of which are tested on animals. Memorable and concise, their brand name meets all the attributes of a good name.


Lush logo



3. Appropriate

When you’re considering a brand name, the next thing to ask yourself is if it will fit with your business purpose or objectives. Netflix is a great example of a name that does.

A simple combination of “Net” to represent the internet and online streaming nature of their offer. And “Flix” to represent flicks and the shows you can gain access to. A simple, memorable and appropriate name.


Netflix logo



4. Easy to say and spell

Your brand name should be easy to spell when you hear it. And to say when you see it. This isn’t always easy to achieve. But when someone hears of you through word of mouth, you want them to be able to easily search you out afterwards. Conversely, if they can’t pronounce your name when they read it… well you may as well forget all about recall and word of mouth.

Again, we asked our team to pick their favourite. And well, you can’t really get any easier than A is for…


Apple logo



5. Likeable

When reviewing potential names, “I just like it” is actually one of the most valid criterion for you and your team to judge it on. Your brand name should be an enjoyable, likeable word to use. It should feel good to say. We asked our team what brand names they found most likeable.

And the winner was LEGO. Simple, easy and enjoyable to say – it also has a lovely story behind the name which is a combination of the Danish words for Play Well – “Leg Godt”


lego logo



6. Extendible

Ideally, your name would lend itself to visual interpretations in some way. Or create opportunities for brand play. And what better example of a brand that has done that, than Mailchimp, with their beloved Freddie icon.

A playful, fun and quirky visual interpretation that helped set this youthful brand apart as a fresh, approachable and user-friendly new technology solution.


mailchimp logo



7. Protectable

It should be protectable and trademarkable or have an available domain name as required. Enlist advice and secure addresses and rights early, before investing in any further brand development.

And be open to happy accidents.

The final of our teams picks for great brand names is Google. During a brainstorming session, the name “googol” was suggested which is the number 1 followed by 100 zeros.

But when they went to see if the domain name was taken, they searched for google.com instead of googol.com by mistake, decided they actually liked that name better, and well, the rest is history…



google logo

We hope you find these 7 attributes of a good brand name helpful.

Certainly, when we’re working on a naming project for a client and we’re going through the outputs from our brainstorm to whittle down the shortlist, these are the criteria against which we judge our ideas.

If you’d like to learn more about brand naming, check out our blog on Renaming Your Brand For A New Location here