What’s in a name?

You only have to look at the big corporates to know that all sorts of brand names make an impact, make money and stand the test of time. But where do these names begin? And what do they have in common?

Here at Ink, we’re often asked to develop names for brands, from new hotel groups to the latest life-changing gadget. We have our own tried and tested formula, but we also draw inspiration from some of the companies out there. Here’s what we can learn from some of our favourites:

Be first


In Branson’s early days, he embraced the fact his team were ‘virgins’ in business – but not afraid of doing things differently. The rest, as they say, is history.

Make up something original


After deciding a foreign sounding name would work best, its co-founders played around with the alphabet to create a new word that was 100% unique.

Run with a goddess


Its iconic ‘swoosh’ symbolises victory – so when it came to a new name, the brand turned to Greek mythology for inspiration: Nike, the Winged Goddess of Victory.

Mean something


Go deep into the dictionary’s 228,132* words to find the one that’s right. Then give it a twist. Google chose ‘googol’ – a huge number (specifically 10 to the power of 100) to indicate the sheer scale of data on the internet.

* Very, very approximately!

Think fresh


In the 1970s, Steve Jobs wanted a friendly name to attract ordinary people to a new personal computer. His stay at an Oregon commune, surrounded by apple trees, planted the seed for what is now the leader in consumer technology.

Get connected


The idea for Facebook came from the title of a directory that helped Harvard University freshmen students get to know each other better. It was conceived in 2003 by Mark Zuckerberg during his sophomore year – first as ‘Facemash’, then ‘The Face Book’. In 2005, the ‘the’ was dropped and this social networking website became the global giant we know today.

So what do great brand names like these have in common? Originality. Conviction. Confidence. Catchy – the four overriding attributes. But whatever their origins, from mythical symbols and straightforward associations to semantic twists on dictionary definitions, the most successful names tend to become inextricably linked to the original vision, values and purpose of the brand’s founder.