5 EXAMPLES OF GREAT BRAND NAMES AND WHY THEY WORK
Whenever we speak about brand naming we always refer back to our 7 criteria for great brand names:
Easy spelling and pronunciation
If a brand name meets all or at the very least most of these criteria, it is certain to have great potential. All the 5 companies in this article have great brand names and we are going to explain why they work so well.
ASOS is a great name for a number of reasons. ASOS is an acronym standing for As Seen On Screen. Acronyms are useful when it comes to simplifying things. They have taken a longer name and made it into their own unique word which is far easier to say and pronounce than the full phrase.
The phrase in itself is incredibly appropriate as it alludes to the unique aspects of the company. One of the UPSs (Unique Selling Points) of the company is that it is online-only which allows for lower prices. It also refers to the quality of products and promises that consumers won't be misled as they will get what they order.
The fact that the name is an acronym but pronounced as a word allows it to be distinct as it is an invented word and it is not shared by any other good or service.
The name evokes the acronym ASAP meaning As Soon As Possible, planting a seed in the consumers' minds about quick delivery of products. This is often supported by next day delivery options.
Last but not least, the name simply has a good mouthfeel due to its brief nature and repetition of the 'S' noise.
Amazon did not always have such a great brand name. In fact, it was a pretty bad one. One of Jeff's names for his company prior to Amazon was Relentless which sounds more like a workout supplement than a book retailer. However, Jeff struck gold with Amazon. It is incredibly appropriate due to the company's book retailing roots. It evokes images of vast rainforests alluding not to the raw material but the quantity of stock.
Amazon, being a brief name that also shares a name with a famous geographical location is easy to spell and pronounce for most of the world. It has a great mouthfeel and rolls off the tongue.
The name has also proven to have legs. Amazon started as a book retailer but their name, although appropriate, did not force them to stay that way and allowed them to diversify into pretty much every product category you can think of.
Starbucks was another firm that didn't start off with an ideal name. Their original name, Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spices, was a bit of a mouthful. It didn't roll off the tongue and it wasn't particularly easy for any non-English speaking person to pronounce. Thankfully, all it took was trimming the fat in and keeping the distinct element of the name for it to grow into the household name that it is today.
Renaming the firm simply Starbucks bucked the trend with coffee shops at the time who often had overly specific names such as their old name or one of their competitors, Coffee Bean and Tea Leave. Rebranding to Starbucks provided the brand name with brevity, likability and distinctiveness that was much needed.
Absolut is a great brand name as it gets all the fundamentals right. Firstly, they ensured their name would be distinct and protectable when they took the word 'absolute' and dropped the e to make it their own. Secondly, the name is brief, it has a good mouthfeel, and is easy to pronounce and spell.
The name succeeds in evoking imagery of purity, suggesting that the spirit has not been tampered with or been padded with excess ingredients. The name has been shown to have legs with multiple flavours and ranges at various price points.
Absolut is an exceptional brand name ticking the boxes of our 7 criteria for a great brand name.
Nike is one of the world's most valuable and recognisable brands. A part of the company's huge success is undoubtedly down to its excellent brand name. It ticks the usual boxes of brevity, likability, easy spelling and pronunciation. It rolls off the tongue as well, in fact, it has been used as the chorus for popular RnB songs, such as this one:
The name also excels in being appropriate as it borrows its name from the Greek goddess of victory, a perfect association for a sportswear brand. The name has proven itself to be extendible as it has expanded worldwide with multiple products at varying price points. It even collaborated with brands outside the sports industry, such as the Dutch streetwear brand Patta.
These are just 5 examples of great brand names but there are plenty out there. The majority of successful brands will meet these 7 criteria either because they had a great name from the get-go or they found that they needed to improve on their journey to success. Think about some of the brands you are fond of and test how many of our criteria they meet!
What makes a great brand name is often unique to the product or service that is being provided. We picked these examples as they are embodiments of our 7 criteria for great brand names.
At Propel, we often run brand naming workshops for our clients who are looking to establish a strong brand that ticks all the boxes.
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About the author: Vincent Bissette is a freelance Brand Strategy and Design Consultant with over 30 years experience of branding and rebranding businesses and organisations, systematically, thoroughly and objectively. He has worked in major Design Consultancies as well as having run his own agency for 25 years, working with SMEs all over the UK to help them modernise their brand, grow their business, attract new customers, penetrate new markets and increase their sales, market share and profit. Throughout that time, there’s not much he hasn't done or many industries he hasn't worked in. He’s a creative, strategic thinker and problem solver with a wealth of experience in diagnosing trouble spots in brands and discovering their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Now based in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, he works throughout the entire UK.
Get in touch with him on Linkedin here