CRAFTING YOUR SIGNATURE
The biggest brand names are more universally recognized than even masterworks of art, world landmarks, or Hollywood celebrities. Effective brands are the stories of our culture, and brand names invite us to become part of that story. No other agency has as strong and diverse a track record for developing successful brand names as Catchword's. We’ve honed our process over a quarter century, and we'll create a name for you that authentically expresses your mythos, differentiating you from competitors and helping you develop a deep bond with your audience.
Product / Service Naming
Taglines (aka slogans) are those catchy phrases typically used to help contextualize a brand or introduce key messaging about the product or company. They range in style—from informative and practical to simply amusing and memorable—and can often achieve a level of recall equivalent to the brand itself (think “Just Do It” from Nike, “What’s in your wallet?” from Capital One, and “Eat fresh” from Subway).
Whether you’re naming (or renaming) a company or looking for the perfect product or service name, an exact dot-com domain may be high on your list of must-haves. Catchword is expert in creating names that are purchasable or available as domain names, and we work with one of the world’s leading domain brokers to help clients secure premium domains. As regular attendees of the industry’s top domain conference, we stay current on viable dot-com alternatives for certain clients, such as dot-io, dot-co, and dot-ai. And over the past two decades—through the course of creating and screening hundreds of thousands of names—we’ve acquired 2000 ultra-premium brandable domains, which are available for purchase via the Catchword Accelerator.
When you love what you do, it shows in the work.And people notice.
Clutch | 2017–2022
#1 Naming Agency Worldwide
MUSE Creative Awards | 2019–2022
Corporate Identity / Brand Naming
Transform Awards | 2018–2020
Hermes Creative Awards | 2019–2022
Excellence in Brand Naming
How can we
Developing a fantastic brand name is not easy, and not something most people—even seasoned marketing professionals—do very often. We’ve got you! Our two decades working and thinking about branding have yielded some wisdom, which we share below and in our Insights & Resources. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, reach out. We’re happy to chat.
A great name is engaging and memorable, distinctive, authentic to the brand, flexible and enduring, culturally sensitive, available and protectable, concise, easy to spell and pronounce by target audiences, natural sounding, and visually evocative.
We aren’t attorneys, but if your name is anything other than generically descriptive, we recommend you try to protect it. Registering your mark with the trademark office (as opposed to simply asserting trademark with a superscript ™), provides additional protection against imitators. Trademark registration is especially important in “first-to-file” jurisdictions where business owners can only obtain rights to their names by being the first to register them as trademarks. However, even in “first-to-use” jurisdictions such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, in which business owners obtain rights to their names by virtue of their use of the names in commerce, trademark registration can be very helpful—particularly, by establishing a concrete, definitive date when a trademark right is claimed.
Please consult a trademark attorney for more information.
Your company or product name and your domain name are different business assets, and they don’t have to be the same. If you discover that the corresponding .com domain for your business name is in use or unavailable for purchase, you can (1) choose a different domain name; (2) choose to add a descriptive term (we chose CatchwordBranding.com because Catchword.com was not available); (3) choose a creative domain name or expression that ties into your company name (Oscar Insurance picked HiOscar.com when Oscar.com was not available); or (4) choose another top-level domain extension (TLD), such as .net, .co, .io.
Product and company naming fees depend on the scope and complexity of the project as well as the level of client management and other considerations like accelerated timeline. There’s a huge difference between providing a creative blast of descriptive names for a low-fat version of an existing ice cream brand and naming a new semiconductor company for a global market, with multiple stakeholders and rounds of creative.
Contact us so we can scope out your project and provide you with an accurate estimate.
For a standalone naming project (not part of a complete brand package), the process includes
- Discovery (brand immersion through interviews and review of materials)
- Naming Parameters (defining the messages, name styles to explore, and other considerations)
- Name Creative (developing typically thousands of name candidates and working with client to get to a few finalists)
- Prescreening (preliminary screening for trademark, domain name, social media and other availability, optional linguistic & cultural screening)
The naming timeline varies depending on how much strategy work will be included beforehand, how crowded the marketspace is, what regions are involved, number of stakeholders (especially if they have limited availability), naming style preferences, and trademark and domain-name needs. We recommend at least 6–8 weeks, not including formal legal vetting and, if needed, customer research or global linguistic/cultural screening.
While naming a company is similar to naming a product, there are some important differences to keep in mind. To begin with, when naming a company, it’s essential to ensure that the name be broad enough to allow for expansion into other business spaces and shifts in product focus. Avoiding overly specific names will ensure your Radio Shack doesn’t need to become just a Shack and your Kentucky Fried Chicken a KFC. In addition, while product names typically need to appeal to one or two customer groups, company names often need to resonate with a larger number of target audiences, including not just customers, but corporate boards, shareholders, business partners, investment firms and the media. Also, while product names can be localized to suit different markets and cultures, company names typically need to “travel” internationally and resonate in all the markets in which they will exist. Lastly, while most product names don’t require a corresponding exact .com domain, company names often do.
There are many qualities that characterize a good company name. In general, a good company name is one that is flexible enough to allow for expansion into other business spaces and shifts in product focus, and that doesn’t pigeonhole a business or impede its ability to grow (e.g. Google, Apple, Amazon). In addition, a good company name often provides a springboard for storytelling about the company, how it positions itself in the market, and why it’s unique (e.g., Red Bull, ASUS, Pandora). A good company name should also be easily pronounceable by speakers of different languages, particularly if the company does business in different international markets (e.g., Asana, Dell, Honda). And, while there are many extremely successful company names over 10 letters in length, it’s generally better to strive for brevity (e.g., Tesla, Zola, Stripe, Gap, Uber).
For more on what makes a name fantastic, check out Catchword’s 10 Qualities of Great Brand Names.
The hallmark of a great product name is engagement meets memorability. The two qualities go hand in hand: you are more likely to remember a name you can connect with, and you’re more likely to connect with a name you can remember. Great names may spark the imagination with timeless metaphor (like Vudu and Nest) or playfully telegraph what they offer (I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter).
A new product name should make sense with your existing product line and company brand. Ford won’t be adding an SUV called X450 or Zippy to its lineup of Escape, Expedition, and Explorer.
Another important quality is distinctiveness (unless you’re naming a private-label product and want to strongly recall a more premium competitor). Great product names stand out from the competition. Consider the stylistic differences among the toothpaste brands Aim (very short English word), Colgate (family name), and Pepsodent (coinage of pepsin, an ingredient, + dent, “tooth” in Latin).
Like all names, product names should be succinct and easy to say and spell. For more on what makes a fantastic brand name, check out Catchword’s 10 Qualities of Great Brand Names.
There is no single right or wrong answer here. Many successful companies rely primarily on a strong company name (think Oracle or Cisco), with use of descriptors for most products. This approach is known as “branded house,” and a benefit is that marketing spend serves to reinforce the equity of the master/corporate brand.
A company like Procter & Gamble, on the other hand, relies on a “house of brands” approach, with strong product brands like Charmin, Olay, and Bounty. This approach allows for much more targeted messaging for each product name. And if any of these products fails, there is no impact on the parent brand.
The choice of branded house or house-of-brands—or something in-between—depends on many factors, including number of anticipated products, target markets, and marketing budget.
Every company larger than a local mom-and-pop needs a website and an appropriate domain name for it to live at. So if you are naming or renaming a company, you will definitely need a domain name, though it doesn’t have to be the same as your company name.
Companies naming a new product or service can usually use their existing domain and just add a subpage (apple.com/iphone). The exception is when the product name rather than the company name is how you expect your audience to find you, as is often the case with consumer goods (we shop for Febreze, not Procter & Gamble products, so customers visit febreze.com for information about that product.)
The exact .com domain name is not a must these days unless you are an industry leader or blue-chip company (needing the stature of a .com), expect to do business primarily through online sales, or advertise a lot on TV or radio (where it may help to have a memorable address like shamwow.com). Most people will click a link or use search to get to your site rather than type in an address.
If the exact .com isn’t available, don’t panic! The truth is, most reasonably short domains have already been registered. Assuming you’re not able to negotiate a reasonable purchase price, there are several ways to create a great domain name.
Using a descriptor (a word that tells what you do) is a great way to find an available domain name. We did it (catchwordbranding.com), and it works perfectly for us. You can also use a call to action, tagline, search term, or other phrase for your website. For example, health-insurance company Oscar lives at hioscar.com, presumably because oscar.com is owned by the Academy Awards, and City National Bank uses bankatcity.com because a Canadian bank already had cnb.com and citynationalbank.com.
At the beginning of the name-development process, we determine whether an exact .com is a high priority for you. If it is, we recommend name styles that are more likely to be available, such as coinages or multi-word names, unless you have the budget, desire and grit to secure a real-word domain. Preliminary screening will provide an idea of what domains are available, and we will advise you accordingly.
If you absolutely need a .com, you may wish to turn to The Catchword Accelerator, our collection of premium brandable domains, perfect for new companies with a short timeline to market.
Catchword assembles a group of linguistic experts, three per language, who live in the target countries, speak the languages natively, and are also fluent in English. We present them with an objective survey about the name candidates, and then collate and analyze the data. The deliverable is an actionable report that allows you to quickly identify potential issues with names, along with our recommendation about which names are worth pursuing.
We can test in just about any country or language, and can provide lists of recommended languages. Depending on your target geographies, Catchword can recommend key languages, as well as important minority languages to consider. A good place to start is with the major languages of Europe (French, Italian, German, Spanish), and a selection of Asian languages (Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean). Remember, one country does not mean one language! China has hundreds of languages, some of which are not mutually intelligible.