Amati and Associates

The art of – and the science behind – Brand naming

The art of – and the science behind – Brand naming

How do you go about brand naming?

Brand naming is a very challenging process that is borderline art and science. It is an unbelievably important task, which requires creativity and a great dose of strategic thinking.


First and foremost, a brand naming exercise should deliver a brand name with 2+1 dimensions:

1) Promise: evoke and support the product/service benefits. A great example: ‘Intel.’

2) Personality/ character: is your brand a young and exuberant adult or a family friend in a moment of need? For example, the name says it all, for example, ‘Massimo Dutti’ stands for Italian style but does not sound super-premium. Classy but affordable.

3) (Performance): this is important for more functional brands, namely in consumer goods and services, where the emotional appeal plays a role later. ‘Apple’ has no performance relates innuendos, whereas ‘Head and Shoulders,’ ‘Duracell,’ ‘Energizer’ clearly do.

Delivering on the above dimensions requires a combination of semantics (e.g., Nike is the goddess of Victory in Greek mythology), phonetics (e.g., Pentium from Intel), and sound symbolism (e.g., Smirnoff, suggesting Russian origins). This is the part which I call Brand Mixology: as a great cocktail, it needs the right glass, the right color, and a perfect balance of taste. And, of course, the right quantity of ice and maybe a garnish.

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The process to select a Brand Name is as analytical as it can get.  First of all, it begins with defining a Long term strategy by developing a compelling brand architecture (e.g., Sub-names and positioning). Then you create a compelling and relevant story for your specific target group by defining a set of brand values and benefits and what makes your proposition believable. This stage is clearly not about the ‘brand naming’ process only, and it is about giving soul and flesh to your brand idea. An effective brand name is the first derivative of strong positioning and well-thought brand architecture second step is about generating Brand Name ideas: embrace creativity, go outside the box, go beyond the box and make sure you define several routes. While the previous step is about narrowing down the scope, this part heavily increases your viable alternative, which is why the next step is about validating the Customer/ Consumer promise. It is important at this stage to validate the ability of the brand names to evoke a response. The ones which do not should be screened out. Next is to validate for geographical boundaries. Once again, this step is about filtering out brand names that do not fit with our geographical strategy. Furthermore, you need to validate for internet domain availability before finally checking whether it can be trademarked.

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