types of brand names

5 Core Types of Brand Names

There are many types of brand name, but most fall within 5 core types. Ranging from totally abstract names, to descriptive names. But the right name always has a reason behind it. Either to make it stick in a customers mind, stand out from the crowd or simply communicate clearly.

The right approach depends on the product or service offered, in conjunction with the target audience that it should resonate with.

If you get this right, in years to come your name could even take on the very meaning it was designed to communicate.

Descriptive Names

These are names which describe exactly what a company does such as “British Airways” or “Pizza Hut”. These types of brand names are especially useful for online use, taking a lot of work out of managing your SEO, such as hotels.com”. Another advantage of these types of names is that they instantly communicate to customers your purpose and offering.

The downside to a descriptive name is it can often pigeon-hole a brand into a specific offering and makes it hard to expand into other areas as a brand grows.

Real Words

These types of brand names take a real word and ‘own it’. Such as “Twitter”; a real word with the definition of “short bursts of inconsequential information“. A word which entirely summed up what the new platform offered. Or “Amazon”, chosen at a time when website listings were alphabetised. It was essential to them to have a name starting with an ‘A’. The word “Amazon” was selected as “the name of the largest river on the planet”. With the aim of creating a brand to become the largest bookstore on earth.

Founder Names

These are brands or companies named after their founder. A lot of very well known brands have been named this way. Bear in mind that it may take more marketing effort to build a new brand on this basis. Many of the well known brands have taken a long time to build, such as “Colgate” toothpaste named after William Colgate. Their toothpaste first went into production in 1896, becoming a house-hold name by the 1950’s. Today the name Colgate is synonymous with toothpaste, but it has taken over 100 years to get to this point. However in certain sectors such as fashion, founder names can work extremely well. Celebrity brands also fall into this category, but have the advantage of utilising an already established and famous persona.


These types of brand names have strong links with other types of name. Often a company name would be shortened to make it more snappy and easier to remember. Such as “IBM”; International Business Machines or “M&S”; Marks and Spencer. It could a little more inventive like “3M”, which stands for The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. Or even something more evocative such as “TGI Friday’s”, Thank God It’s Friday!

But be aware long acronyms can be very hard for audiences to remember.

Invented Names

These are names which are made-up, coined or fabricated. It may have relevance to the company or sometimes none at all. There are many types of Invented names, such as names inspired by other languages. Examples include “Etsy”; inspired by the Italian ‘eh, si’ (oh yes); or “Lego”; from the Danish phrase ‘Leg godt’ meaning play well. Invented names may also be entirely abstract. Such as “Starbucks” which originally had no relation to coffee. It is actually derived from the name of a character from the book Moby-Dick!

There are also compound names, created by joining two words together to form a new word. There are many good examples of this. Including “Netflix”; a clever combination of ‘net’, suggestive of the ‘internet’ and instant access, combined with ‘flix’ which strongly evokes thoughts of ‘films’ as well as ‘flicking’ through many programme options.

Getting it right

Those who get their approach right, may even become victims of their own success! (Nice problem to have though). Who would have thought when the name “Google” was launched in 1998, that due to its dominance and popularity, people would use it as a transitive verb! Another great, more historical example of this is the use of “hoover” instead of “vacuum cleaner”. Due to the popularity of the brand name “Hoover”, who actually make a range of appliances including vacuums.

If you need creative help with the name generation process for your brand or company, get in touch to see how we can help.