in Misc

How To Choose The Best Name For Your Brand

When The Home Depot was getting off the ground in 1979, its founders searched for just the right name. They rejected choices like MB’s Warehouse, Homeplace and Bad Bernie’s Buildall in favor of the name that is now synonymous with hardware. How did they do it?

An associate was driving past a restaurant made out of an old railroad car. She was looking for words that sounded good with “home” and The Home Depot was one of the choices that popped into her head. (source)

A study made by Interbrand on the world’s strongest brands, shows that in a top 3 of the most valuable ones, we can find Coca Cola ($70bn),IBM ($64bn) and Microsoft ($60bn). The result of this study (Best Global Brands 2010) can be seen here.

Even though the 100 brands list contains very different names(is very hard or impossible to define a general rule for creating a successful brand), we can do a name type classification depending on criteria like founder names (Merrill Lynch, Gucci, Chanel or Mercedes), suggestive names (Microsoft, Kleenex or Intel), initials (IBM, MTV or ING) or abstracts names (Nivea, Marlboro).

Founder name based brands

If we look at the overall classification, we can see that the most ones are those named after the founder, followed by the abstracts. This brands – the family names can be found in different areas like finance and banks (Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley), fashion (Armani, Gucci) or automotive (Mercedes Benz, Harley Davidson etc.).

Actually, these names can be found in all the industries where a strong human interaction or a “people to people” communication is needed. Also, these names can be translated into authenticity or the guarantee of success or quality, especially where innovative products are launched or in the industries where the activity must be assured through personal assurances, in order to gain the trust and confidence.

Suggestive brands

Identities like Microsoft or Intel offer a suggestive perspective over the brand. This brands are friendly because of the names they have and they are easy to promote because of their simplicity. In simplest terms, a suggestive name is allusive and are often formed by metaphors, allusions or simile.

Abstract brands

Abstract brands like Nivea or Marlboro are those without a descriptive power on the product or the service that they make. They are powerful brand through business association and they are easily to defend against name theft. The main inconvenient is that the consumer must be very well informed about what the brand name represent.


Brands like IBM or ING are powerful not trough their names, but trough the quality of their services and their marketing power. These are the “weapons” that big companies use to create their identities. Very few newly created companies afford the luxury to use a name based on initials because you need to have big marketing budget which must teach and help the consumer memorize the brand. IBM (International Business Machine) started to communicate it’s identity under initials long after they where a giant. Others like LG, ING or GE are in the same situation.

In conclusion

Which is the best strategy of creating a brand? Well, there isn’t a rule but the most important thing a brand creator must know is the balance between the consumer needs and the company values.



Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.