The Making of a Great Brand Name

Nonkosi Matrose

Monday, May 31, 2021

12 mins

A name. We all have one. It is what gives us a sense of who we are and the communities in which we belong. It is the very first way we introduce ourselves to the world, making the thought behind it significant.

Your name is your introduction

Much like your personal name, your brand's name is a critical part of its identity as it indicates what, and who you stand for in the market. By showing your products and services, depicting your business ethics, values, and goals — it communicates to customers how you see them and what value you can offer them (5).

As brand shapers, we understand how every single advantage a business can have in its field is beneficial to its success. Having a great name assures a good first impression and makes you more memorable — making it a profitable and prime marketing tool.

It’s often your business’s first introduction to the market, and you know what they say about first impressions, they can last a lifetime — you get one chance so you have to make it count. This month we delve into the success a great brand name can bring for your business and the process of generating one.

“First impressions are formed in the first 10 seconds, often less.”

- CourtneyM at Action Card

Great brand names start with a strategy

There are plenty of assertions as to what makes a brand name great. A 2010 University of Alberta study (2) found that people are likely to have a more positive reaction to repetitively structured names such as Coca-Cola, Pick ’n Pay, Kit-Kat etc. They are easier to say and use, and therefore more memorable.

While there are many examples of popular brands with repetitively structured names, what makes a great brand name is one that perfectly represents the brand while appealing to its target audience, and while standing out from competitors. Essentially, a great one encapsulates the entire ‘being’ of your business by being simple, distinct and meaningful.

The distinction of the name is carefully examined against certain requirements, ideally it should tick these boxes:

✓ Relevant — communicate the brand persona to its target audience 

✓ Distinctive — set you apart from your competitors by being unique and memorable 

✓ Clear — easily understood, pronounced, spelt and searchable online

✓ Visual — be translatable through design assets, such as logos, visual elements, colours etc

✓ Future-proof — must be able to grow with the company, maintain its relevancy and be adaptable

✓ Protectable — available trade mark and domain so it can legally belong to you 

Brand Name - client MOOV Fuel logo with registration mark
Figure 1: MOOV Fuel logo with registration mark, Erasmus Vervoer new name

Tasked with transforming a traditional fuel-delivery business into a world-class brand that is known for innovation, a transformation from Erasmus Petroleum to MOOV was made. The name MOOV is one that is geared towards future possibilities due to the aspirational association with motion. Naming a fuel and logistics company after a common word such as ‘move’ sets a hard-hitting and clear concept. After generating over 100 brand names, the name was selected based on its simplicity, impact, campaign-ability and relevance to the industry.

Brand name - client Lokkit Locksmith and Security, new logo and name
Figure 2: Lokkit Locksmith and Security, new logo and name

Formerly trading as Locksmith @Tzaneen, this locksmith and security company required a complete rebrand inclusive of a rename. They pride themselves on their 24/7 service offering and range of security products and services. And so the name Lokkit was born from a composite of the words Lock and It. 

Brand name - client Locksmith@Tzaneen, Lokkit Locksmith and Security previous name and logo
Figure 3: Locksmith@Tzaneen, Lokkit Locksmith and Security previous name and logo

The name can be categorised as descriptive as it details an experience and image associated with the brand. The name references the ease the business provides its clientele with and works as a vivid descriptor of what the business trades in. The ‘it’ component at the end of the name references the use of technology in the security industry (i.e smart homes).

To guarantee that your brand name will tick all these boxes hiring a professional may come in handy. Sure, with a decent process you can probably generate a decent brand name on your own. However, you may not have the adequate strategic means or craft to handle the task of creating a simple, distinct and meaningful name. This is where a brand agency comes into play. Hiring a professional to handle your name generation is an assurance that the process will be done swiftly and accurately.

“A great brand name is not just something that looks cool on your business card or is fun to say. And it isn’t great because you like it. It’s great because it communicates something to customers.”
- Katy French from Column Five Media

Who will do the job best

To decide whether you should hire someone you must consider the factors at stake — outlined are a couple of questions to help in your decision (1):

  • Can you trust your team’s creativity and objectivity?
  • Do you have enough time to devote to this project?
  • How will you rank in your market should your brand name not be up to standard?
  • Can you afford to hire someone?

The type for you

There are categories when it comes to brand names, and they prove as a valuable method when developing one (2). Knowing the types that exist fosters the process as it orders thoughts more effectively and promotes further name generation. The types of brand names are:  

  • NAME: Named after someone, either the founder, someone associated with them, or a fictional character: Nelson Mandela University
  • DESCRIPTIVE: A name that details what you do: Longspan Gutters, Deeghuys, Rise Architects. Alternatively, an experience/image connected to you: MOOV
  • COMPOSITE: A name created from combining words together: ONELOGIX, Genwest
  • INVENTED: Creating a completely new name or word: ZÖLT Sports, DÜ Paint + Tool
  • METAPHOR: Named after a symbol that represents your brand: Débu Vocals
  • ACRONYM: A name that makes use of abbreviation: SKK Engineering

Name generation: One step at a time

A great brand name is the result of meticulous planning, in-depth research and fact-based name selection. To prove worthiness we put names through a number of steps, refining the list name by name until only one emerges victorious.

Step 1: Establishing the brand’s core

The first step before ideas fly from pen to paper is to understand your brand by identifying the following about the business (3):

  • PURPOSE: why you exist, what you do and how you do it
  • VISION: what are you trying to achieve 
  • TARGET MARKET: who do you exist for. Find your ideal customer by being as specific as possible. Data comes into play here to be able to flesh out your demographic information in terms of age, gender, location etc

Knowing who your audience is, what they are receptive to, what attracts them and what they want is integral to being able to communicate to them directly and most effectively. Identifying all of this first is valuable because it indicates who your brand specifically caters to.

“The need for good brand names originates with customers, and customers will always want convenient ways of identifying, remembering, discussing, and comparing brands. The right name can be a brand’s most valuable asset, driving differentiation and speeding acceptance.”

- Marty Neuemier in The Brand Gap

Step 2: Finding your persona

A brand’s persona is established by identifying the perfect example of the emotional connection you want your intended customers to have when they come across your company. To find this is to personify your brand through communicating specific brand values. What do you want customers to feel when interacting with your product/service, does luxury come to mind? or convenience? or perhaps innovation? (3).

Brand name - client ZÖLT Sports stacked logos with trade mark registration
Figure 4: ZÖLT Sports stacked logos with trade mark registration

The ZÖLT Sports app offers a new way to play sport. It is where the game which used to be played in the real world only, can now be played in the digital world too through an immersive social media experience fans and sportsmen alike can join in. The app provides an experience of the innovation of blockchain technology for crypto integration, where ZÖLT Sports is also the official currency of the game.

We were approached by the startup for a full-service offering, of course kicking off with the name… ZÖLT Sports was created. It originates from the word ‘salt’ — something you add to create flavour and intensity, it is also a characteristic of sweat as per the expression ‘blood, sweat and tears’. Secondly, salt was used as a currency before money, which links to the rewards one can earn on the app. Thirdly, ZÖLT is short for ‘exalt’ — meaning to raise up to a higher position, or to take a step up, much like players would go up in the rankings within the app — by training hard and playing even harder.

The name was generated by linking associative names from sports and research of the history of currency — creating a completely new name, making it both a metaphor and an invented brand name.

Brand name - client ZÖLT Sports social media post/brand image
Figure 5: Social media post/brand image

Step 3: Brainstorming

Finally, the most exciting part everyone wants to dive straight into — fortunately, that is the best way to get started with producing ideas. So it is best to let the creative juices flow at this step of the process. Ideally, dozens, or even hundreds of names come out of this step. They are then narrowed down to a few contenders through rounds of close and thorough inspection. 

Step 4: Putting it to the test

Creating and selecting the right name is a mix of creativity, meaning, impact and availability. Names that have made the cut then go through an availability check — this step is to ensure the name isn’t trade marked by another business and that its domain is obtainable. Research into all companies that could be trading under the same or similar name is conducted through an extensive search of all registered entities in the country.

Step 5: Protecting your name

The final step in generating a great brand name is to adequately secure it. This step is vital as should your business trade under a name that infringes on another’s trade mark, legal action could come into effect. Not protecting your business's name could be putting your business in jeopardy (1). By registering your name, you protect your sales by preventing consumer confusion. A trade marked name brands all of your products and services as yours exclusively — warding off future competitors from using it and shielding you from counterfeit products turning away revenue (5).

For a name that encapsulates the entire ‘being’ of your company, you can contact us to get a free quotation on brand name generation and legal protection of your trade mark.


  1. Marketing Mo 
  2. Katy French 
  3. Vincent Magaline
  4. Tasneem Baldiwala
  5. TRUIC 
  6. CourtneyM
  7. The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier