Every brand is unique, and yours is no exception. In order to come up with an outstanding name for your brand, you need to nod toward those unique qualities. But you also need to know where your business falls on the spectrum of defining brand traits.
In 1997, the Journal of Marketing Research published an article by Jennifer Aaker that defined five distinct dimensions of brand personality: sincerity, excitement, competence, sophistication, and ruggedness. Every brand in the world falls under one of these categories or an overlap of two. Instead of trying to defy convention and position yourself as revolutionary, it’s best to embrace your category and let it facilitate the brand naming process.
The 5 Brand Personalities Defined
Your brand personality isn’t just a sticker you slap onto your business to sell products and services to the masses; it’s a tool to help you refine your understanding of your values, your mission, and your unique market proposition. In order to understand your brand personality, and consequently what brand name style works for your business, you need to know what qualities describe each style:
- Sincerity: wholesomeness, integrity, warmth, honesty
- Excitement: youthfulness, energy, creativity, cheekiness, playfulness
- Competence: reliability, skillfulness, intelligence, dexterity
- Sophistication: elegance, luxuriousness, exclusivity, gracefulness
- Ruggedness: outdoorsiness, toughness, adventurousness
Check out our portfolio, which features an array of brand and product names befitting each category.
5 Company Name Styles That Work with Different Brand Personalities
Once you’ve established your brand personality, it’s time to figure out what name style you like best. The easiest way to do this is to find examples of brand and company names that you like and dislike. Look at your top competitors in the business. While it may seem like their names have a special je ne sais quoi factor that would be difficult to imitate, the truth is that they probably knew what they wanted and had a methodical process for arriving at their brand names.
Achieving the result you want is a matter of approaching the process with specific goals, gathering information, doing your research, and testing to make sure your audience responds. Here are five popular brand name styles that can help you create a blueprint for the process.
Evocative names rely on our existing emotional association with certain words or sounds, even associations we don’t understand or immediately recognize. They can be entirely unfamiliar, as long as they make people feel something. Nike and Target are examples of names that have pre-existing associations. Both of these brands used those associations to their advantage. Yahoo is an example of an evocative brand name that’s more instinctual than learned; Yahoo isn’t a real word, and yet it evokes the sound of celebration of success.
Evocative names can work for all five brand personalities, as long as you match the emotion you’re attempting to evoke with the brand — you wouldn’t want a Yahoo-like name for a business projecting sincerity, for example.
Descriptive is the opposite of evocative. Descriptive names tend to be literal, without much room for playfulness, such as International Business Machines or Bank of America. This straightforwardness often suits sincere and competent brands, but even they need to tread carefully to avoid names that are boring and unmemorable. Descriptive names can be dicey, but there are many that work well.
Play on words
These types of names apply puns and double meanings, often experimenting with root words in romance languages or combining existing English words to create something both new and familiar. Examples include ModCloth, Freshly, and SimpliSafe. As you can see, most brand name types have the luxury of wordsmithing and combining different words, as long as the end result matches the brand’s personality.
While many successful companies’ names are acronyms (ESPN, IBM, CVS), we don’t recommend going for this style of brand name. Unless your acronym spells out a recognizable word that suits your brand personality, your target is going to have a hard time recalling the alphabet soup of random letters. Taking into account that most three- and four-letter words are already trademarked, there isn’t much potential in names that are acronyms functioning as words — but never say never! Sometimes a brilliant idea can surprise even the naming experts.
Personal and geographical names can be limiting, but they work for certain industries and brand personalities. Consider brands like Gucci, Hilton, Adidas, and J.P. Morgan — sophistication and sincerity tend to pair well with personal names. Geographical names can make future expansion difficult, but they work well for certain regional brands.
Like the brand personalities, these different types of name styles are often combined. A descriptive name can become an acronym for brevity’s sake (take IBM, for example), or a personal name can become a play on words (e.g., WalMart). Our experts at NameStormers are passionate about finding a name style or combination of style that works perfectly for your brand.
Work with NameStormers
For nearly 30 years, NameStormers has been working as a brand name consultant with brands of all shapes and sizes. We come up with perfect-fit names that communicate a brand’s values and offerings to the world while appealing to its target audience. Our seven-step process produces viable, memorable, and original names, and our additional services like name testing and linguistic testing ensure that no stone is left unturned. Get in touch with us today to get started on creating your unique brand name.