Tracing the Origin of Business Names: Different Types of Business Names

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Some brands seem to have more fascinating names than others. Some businesses are named after individuals who created the organization. In some cases, organizations got their name from their founders, while other business names emerged only by chance or artificially. There is a mesmerizing story behind every exceptional brand that makes the organization forge ahead of the competition and enjoy a broad fan base. There are numerous organizations in the world today. Each of them has a unique brand name that plays a crucial role in its success. According to Forbes, branding is the secret behind your business's success. Your prospective customers come across your brand name first, and often it successfully sets the mood and tone for future interactions. 

The objective of a brand is to have a unique name with a meaning. A meaningful brand relates to specific qualities and associations that enable seamless marketing and promotion and enjoy brand equity. 

A perfect name could be an advantage enjoyed by a start-up over any legacy brand. Millions of company or brand names may come under seven different groups. Here are the seven categories of business names: 

Descriptive: The name suggests what the organization is or does, like American Airlines.

Eponymous: The organization's name comes from the name of the founder, like Disney.

Acronymic: Letters or abbreviations used to effectively shorten an earlier title, like KFC.

Suggestive: Already existing or brand new words suggesting what the business fundamentally is or does like Pinterest.

Associative: Already existing or brand new words coming with positive associations, like Red Bull.

Non-English: These business names come from foreign language words like Lego.

Abstract: Using phonetics for generating brand new English-sounding words like Rolex.


Let us discuss some common categories in detail.


Descriptive Brand Names

Brand or business names that state or signify the organization's business or product come under descriptive names. If the brand name can convey what the organization is or what it stands for. Stating within the name what an organization provides can be helpful to consumers. You can guess effortlessly that Home Depot represents a huge space for home-associated products. Explaining what the company does within its name is best for start-ups with low to practically no brand recognition. Potential customers with no idea about the brand can instantaneously know what to expect when they hear the brand name.  

However, descriptive names may become unrecognizable, wordy, and often, legally indefensible. It is pretty challenging to describe the vision and everything about the business in just a few syllables. Since these names are not unique, they fail to become memorable brand names. You will find it difficult and nearly impossible to stop other businesses from using your name. Several organizations begin with a descriptive name, but gradually shift to acronyms.


Eponymous Brand Names

Businesses named after their founders or mythological or historical figures fall into this category. Company founders enjoy incredible adulation and attention. Their names appear in history books, magazines, and even in hospitals. They are found even in business or brand names. Disney got its name from its founder Walt Disney. Adidas got its name from Adi Dassler, the founder of the company. Some brands get their names from fictional characters and historical figures.


Acronymic Brand Names

These brand names are sets of letters taken from the first letter of each word in the phrase constituting the full name of the brand or the business. The acronymic name may not make a word that makes sense to the target audience but is generally the outcome of a long and descriptive name, which the business has outgrown. The acronymic name is usually more unique and snappy, helping it to be more memorable and usable. Some of the more famous acronymic names include IBM, which has replaced International Business Machines while General Electric is now more commonly known as GE. Most people perhaps don't know that 3M originally was Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company. In many cases, the adoption of the acronymic name is strategic because the customer preferences might have changed since the naming of the business, or the original name may prevent them from expanding their product lines. For example, realizing that modern customers were more health conscious, Kentucky Fried Chicken reinvented itself as KFC.


Suggestive Brand Names

Typically, architects of indicative brand names use or modify actual words to hint at what the product is, or what the business does without being descriptive. For example, the social media platform Pinterest has derived its unique name by combining ˜pin' and ˜interest', concepts central to its business. The advantage of suggestive brand names is the target audience gets to know the brand's meaning without the brand name being boringly explicit, and you can make it as catchy as you like. Most importantly, these names are easier to protect legally. A suggestive name may be composite, invented, or real. You can use a brand name generator to throw up ideas for suggestive brand names.

Composite names comprise two meaningful words placed together to form a unique and descriptive word. RayBan and Facebook are outstanding examples. Invented brand names comprise unique names made by manipulating real words by changing, adding, and subtracting letters. Real suggestive names are derived from existing words but may not be descriptive. Uber is a good example, but such names are hard to find as most of them are not available.


Associative Brand Names

Unlike suggestive brand names that indicate what a product or a business does, an associative brand name addresses the imagery, characteristics, and feelings the brand wants to evoke in its customers. Associative brand names try to reflect the emotions of their customers toward the brand. For example, Amazon, the world's leading e-commerce platform derives synergy from the longest river in the world to indicate the breadth of its product range. Similarly, Red Bull is a befitting name for an energy drink with its imagery of power and confidence.



There are other methods of naming creative marketers can use to make their brands distinctive, memorable, and reflect the brand properties. A common technique is to use words from languages other than English that take inspiration from other cultures. Increasing globalization has ensured many foreign words are easily understood. However, marketers must tread carefully as foreign cultures can be a minefield, and it is easy to cause unintended offense.

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