What's in a name? Brand naming tips from Willow + Blake

30.11.21 | By Ellie Laffner | branding

What’s in a (brand) name?

Simple question, loaded answer.

What’s in a name? Simple question, loaded answer.

Naming seems simple at first. But if you’ve ever birthed a child - or a business - you’ll know the art of naming cannot be underestimated. 

Sure, sometimes you get lucky. A name is summoned to you by a higher power while you’re sitting on the toilet. But other times, some strategic and creative thinking is in order.

So what’s in a brand name, and why does it matter?

A brand name is not just about describing the product. Some of the most well-known brand names stand for a concept, which can then be translated back to an emotion, a belief, or an idea.

Nike. Translates to Victory. 

Uber? Excellence. 

Amazon. The largest river in the world.

Meta. Mark Zuckerberg taking over the world. 

But it’s 2021, and with side hustles brewing left, right and centre and the ‘Great Resignation’ upon us, the first few names you think of will most likely (definitely) be taken. As if times weren’t tough enough. 

So without naming names, these are our top tips for embarking on a naming journey.

Keep it simple. 

Have you ever met someone with a name you couldn’t pronounce, so you avoided saying it all together? Simplicity is key. Try to avoid tongue-twisters; unless you're a challenger lollipop brand. In which case, you’re on the money. 

Here’s a simple checklist when ideating names:

  • Is it easy to pronounce?

  • Is it easy to write?

  • What is the meaning/translation, and can it be linked back to the brand?

Sound it out.

Be aware of word associations and the mouth feel. Every word and letter has a different kick to it; some are soft and circular sounding, others are rough with a spike to it.

You’ll notice many bedding companies have a soft name: Plush, Sealy, Slumberland. Whereby energy drinks crack more of a whip; think Coca Cola or Monster. 

It’s good practice to think: does the sound correspond with the feeling of the product? 


Consistency is vital. Patterns, repetition and logic equal brand recognition and loyalty. Case and point: iPad, iPod, iPhone. Need i say more. 

Make stuff up.

That’s the beauty of creativity. Rules are made to be bent out of shape. 

Don’t be afraid to coin your own words, make hyphens your friend and create your own grammar rules. Experimenting with spelling can be a clever way to get the word you want, while still standing out. It can also go very wrong, so coin carefully. See: Dribbble, CUUP, Grindr, LNDR, Plenaire. Familiar words, made ownable with a little finessing. 

Check the URL and Instagram handle. 

You’ve made it all the way here. Well done. Your favourite name is free of trademarks and that baby (or baybee?) is all yours. Before we congratulate you, check those goddamn URLs. Because there’s nothing more frustrating than creating an epic name, only to realise some person with 0 followers, 2 creepy pictures and an inactive account has taken that name before you. 

If it’s taken, it’s not a tragedy. It’s just good to be aware of it so you can get creative from the outset.

Naming is a carefully curated art form - and it’s the first point of reference for audiences when discovering your brand. Give it the thought it deserves. The time it warrants. And the oomph that’ll help take your brand all the way.

Need help with naming? We can do that.

Need help with creating strategy? We can do that, too.

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