Naming a company is strenuous for it will define your organization for as long as it runs. It may bring the company to success or not as it bears the name that you have trademarked for it. It is always helpful though to have some sort of help or a simple guide when it comes to deciding the lasting name you should give for your entire business.
Seeing the different brand names that are everywhere in the world, there are five categories that those names fall into. When this is considered, it will be easier to decide in which type you’d want your company to fall into as you think creatively along the lines of that certain category.
Types of brand names and their meanings
The first and considered to be the weakest in the list is a generic brand name that cannot be trademarked. This kind of brand name basically distinguishes an entire group of products, such as “Bread”, “Dog Food”, “Cold Beer”, “Hotels.com”, “Business.com”. Although these are legally impossible to be protected by a trademark, they can still be used at a person’s own risk.
It does have an appeal in the sense that it is simple and easy to remember, practically describing what your business is all about without saying another word, but it is difficult for businesses with a brand name like this to establish its own identity as the word or words used have been used and heard by people probably a hundred of times every day.
Just like generic brand names, descriptive names are difficult or even ineligible for trademark protection since it only adds one or more adjective before a word. Although a descriptive brand name is true to its name in describing exactly what your business is all about, it could be that when, for an example, you branded your new t-shirt business as “Unique Shirts” that your product will get lost in the middle of searches and other products and services that are connected to “Unique Shirts”. It is indeed a risk to go for this kind of brand name since there is basically nothing that can hold back your competitors from making a claim for the same descriptive brand name.
However, there are well-known companies with descriptive brand names that have earned trademark protection, namely Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut, and Burger King. There are cases that descriptive brand names could work when customers start to link their brand name to the product they’re offering only and nothing else. If that sticks in the minds of the consumers, like the above-mentioned companies, it could work.
In using suggestive brand names, there is a better chance in having it protected with trademark. This kind of names plays on metaphor and analogy for the purpose of creating an association of their products in the consumers’ minds. Amazon, Greyhound, or Chicken of the Sea are examples of suggestive brand names. Even if they are correlated with other things, it is more likely to be sustainable in the industry. Suggestive brand names are more difficult to create but easier to legally protect although they are also more challenging to market than the previous categories.
Known as either coined or fanciful, these are the brand names that are considered to be the easiest to trademark because of its uniqueness since it’s simply created. Some instances of this kind of brand name include Google, Twitter, Microsoft, etc.
Coined names are made to have no meaning at all just like Kodak or completely structured from Greek, Latin, or other words that are mostly not known to some (Xerox, Volkswagen, Sony).
This is considered to have double-edged sword effect because the name is a made-up word so the consumers wouldn’t figure out in a snap of a finger what your business is about and what you are offering exactly. On the other hand, you can have a good control on what you want people to associate to your brand, and it is favourable on your side when you register for a domain name.
Therefore, this requires a business with a coined brand name to put more effort into marketing to establish with the people what products and services are being offered and to associate the brand name with possitivity.
The last one in the list is arbitrary names. This kind of brand names seems generic but it can be legally protected because of their out-of-context use. Some of the examples of this is “Shell” and “Apple,” two big companies that are not using their names to sell sea shells and a certain fruit, respectively.
More often than not, arbitrary names are used to suggest qualities that a business wishes to kindle in people’s minds. In choosing to have your brand names to be arbitrary ones, a huge amount of time in building your brand would be needed. People’s association with the original concept of the arbitrary name should be broken for you to insert your own connection to your business.
In truth of it all, there are certain pros and cons in any categories above. Choosing a brand name requires a huge amount of time and a lot of considerations for it will be for a long-term use. The key to picking a brand name lies on which category best suits with your marketing strategies and objectives. You can hire a trademark attorney to choose and register a trademark internationally.