5 criteria of a breakthrough brand name

Whether on a billboard or a business card, on the store shelf or in a social media post, the name of your brand is often the first impression someone gets of your company or product. o you need a breakthrough brand name – a name that attracts attention, compels consideration, and eventually sticks.

How do you choose a breakthrough brand name? Don’t simply pick a name that you like or just go with your gut. The decision is too important to be made subjectively or left up to chance.

Learn in this video the five criteria you should use to select a name for your brand. The transcript is below for your convenience.


Selecting the right name is one of the most important decisions you can make about developing a new product or starting a new company. Instead of choosing a name based on what you like, consider the following five criteria of good brand names:

  1. A good brand name should be easy. The brand should be easy to pronounce, easy to understand, and easy to spell. You want your name to engender trust and be shareable, not to create uncertainty or confusion. Today’s customers are not going to spend their hard-earned money on products or services they don’t understand and they’re not going to spend their time trying to figure out a name.
  2. Your brand name should appeal to your core customer. A good brand name should be relevant and compelling to its specific target audience. If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll probably end up with a generic, unmemorable name, so be clear about the type of person your brand is for — and who it’s not for — and then decide on a name accordingly. For example a fun, clever name may be a real draw for creative people, but would turn off more a turn-off for more serious customers.
  3. A good name also should position your brand. The name doesn’t have to spell out the brand positioning or be a literal description of what you offer. “Fast Shoes,” for example, would have been a boring name when Phil Knight first started Nike. But by naming his company after the mythical goddess of strength, speed, and victory, Knight was suggesting what he was offering and its unique value.
  4. Criteria No. 4: Differentiate. This is related to the last point about positioning — a good name should differentiate your brand from competitors. Try not to use a common naming convention or a name that sounds similar to other choices your customers have. Most banks, for example, use geographic cues in their name like Northeast Bank so that they’re predictable, but Orange Bank is distinctive – and conveys some personality. Choose a name that stands out and is clearly memorable.
  5. And fifth, adapt. A good brand name should be adaptable to different applications. Consider how the name will work when it’s spoken aloud, printed in text, and rendered in a logo or other visual treatments. Also be aware of how the name translates into different regions or even languages if your business calls for it. And finally think about how adaptable the name may be over time if you think there’s a chance you’ll expand your brand into new products or categories.

In addition to these five criteria, there are also some practical considerations to keep in mind when selecting a name. For instance, it should be available for trademark registration and URL. And these days, since your name will likely be used in social and mobile applications, the shorter the name, the better.

Don’t worry if some people don’t like your name choice. Ten years ago, many people derided Apple’s choice of the name “iPad,” but look how well-known and established that brand is today. And, remember, whatever name you choose, selecting a brand name is only the first step. Then you must use it consistently and associate it with a unique and valuable experience. That’s how you create a breakthrough brand name.