What is an invented brand name? The pros and cons of invented company names
Invented brand names are one of the most creative naming options for today’s businesses. Sometimes inspired by existing words, other languages, or simple linguistic elements, invented names aim to convey a unique emotion or experience using brand-new words.
Invented names are valuable for a host of reasons. These days, creating a unique brand name can be extremely difficult. After all, there are millions of companies around the world today, each trying to achieve a strong level of brand equity with their chosen moniker.
The chances are the majority of names your business comes up with will already be similar to something else on the market. You may even end up falling in love with a name already trademarked by another company.
Invented names offer an excellent way to stand out from the crowd.
Today, we’re going to explore the pros and cons of invented company names, and when you might consider using one for your own business.
What is an invented brand name?
Business names fall into a host of different categories. Some businesses choose to name their company something descriptive, using pre-existing words and terms.
For instance, there are names like Burger King, which immediately highlight the purpose and mission of the organization.
Other organizations experiment with compound words, like “Instagram”, or “Pinterest”, which combine multiple existing words into something new. Invented brand names take a different approach.
Though they may be inspired by existing words, the names created are entirely unique, with no prior meaning or dictionary entry. Think of brand names like Kodak, or Google.
The idea behind invented brand names is to build brand equity by choosing a title you can completely own and shape to suit your company. Because there’s no pre-existing meaning, you’re free to add your own purpose and emotion to the name.
Plus, there’s very little risk you’ll be competing with other companies for a similar title.
Invented names are often expressive and emotional. They attempt to convey a unique idea or meaning, without having a pre-existing definition.
Google, for example, is a completely made-up word, but it has associations with mathematics thanks to the word “Googol”, and its double “O” makes it sound fun and approachable.
What are the pros of invented brand names?
Invented names are creative and unique.
With invented company names, you’re free to imbue your business with any meaning and emotion you choose, provided you know how to develop the rest of your brand personality around the name.
The great thing about invented names is they’re completely made-up words, so you don’t have to worry about connecting your company to the wrong ideas or feelings.
While many made-up names begin sounding quite unusual, they can also become household words, like Tesco, or Google.
Some of the biggest benefits of invented names include:
If you’re able to find a word completely unique to your business, your ability to protect the term is much greater. It’s far easier to trademark and defend a word you’ve created yourself, compared to copywriting an existing word.
The name will also be specific to your business, with no similar titles to compete against.
When we encounter something new in the world, like a name or picture we’ve never seen before, it’s more likely to stick with us. We’re pre-disposed as humans to try and find meaning in everything we encounter.
A made up name can push customers to spend more time thinking about your business and what it stands for.
As your business grows and transforms, descriptive names can begin to feel less relevant. This isn’t the case with invented names because their meaning can easily adapt to suit your business. Your made-up name will be inherently flexible.
For instance, Nokia started life as a paper manufacturer and became a company selling mobile phones. However, their unique name meant they didn’t need to rebrand.
As mentioned above, invented names are completely unique to your business. There’s little chance of your customers stumbling across a competitor when they’re searching for your title online. You also don’t have to worry about sounding too much like another company.
You can set your business apart as being entirely unique.
Made-up names have inherent personality. They show the unique nature behind your brand and highlight your company as something fresh and new. Used correctly, they can be an excellent way to show the emotion behind your business.
What are the cons of an invented name?
Invented brand names can be an excellent choice for many businesses, in virtually any industry. However, they have their down sides too. The biggest challenge with invented names in most cases, is they’re a completely “blank slate”.
This means you won’t be able to convey what your business does to your customers instantly, which can cause confusion.
When naming a business with an invented word, companies need to put significant effort into building the brand surrounding their moniker. You’ll need to invest a significant amount of cash into marketing and ensure you’re making the right impression.
Some of the biggest downsides of invented names include:
Coming up with any brand name can be difficult. Finding a word no-one has ever used before is even more complicated. You need to think about everything from linguistics, to how the name is pronounces, to how it might affect different people.
An invented name is dependent on a strong marketing and branding strategy. You need to imbue the word with meaning yourself. This means spending significant time on developing your company’s identity and personality.
There’s no guarantee the meaning you want to convey with your invented name will immediately come across correctly to your target audience. The market may need some time to develop an understanding of what your business stands for.
Because you’re not using the pre-existing words customers might be searching for online, there’s a good chance customers will struggle to find you. Until people become familiar with your name, you may not have a strong presence on the search engines.
It can be difficult to know how to pronounce and spell an invented name. This makes it harder for your customers and community to promote your business through word of mouth. You may end up seeing a lot of different spellings online.
Famous invented brand names
Invented brand names are powerful, but complicated. Used correctly, they can quickly become a well-known household term. However, choose the wrong selection of letters or sounds, and you risk alienating your target audience and making your business impossible to find.
If you’re thinking of using an invented brand name yourself, you might find its helpful to learn from some of the experts in this field.
Here are some famous invented company names to inspire you…
One of the most famous examples of invented brand names, Haagen Dazs actually has no underlying meaning. According to the people behind the business, they simply wanted a name which felt exotic and luxurious.
This meant using a title with accents and a unique sound.
The name gives the business a European vibe, which was frequently associated with class and sophistication when the company was first starting. The result is a name capable of leaving a lasting impression on its audience and making an emotional connection.
Highlighting the unique nature of a company selling professional services and information technology can be easier said than done. Accenture started life with a completely different name, but eventually decided to transform its identity with something new.
Accenture was derived from the phrase “accent on the future” and aimed to highlight the focus of the business on new and upcoming technology. The term rolls off the tongue and sounds distinctly modern, making it ideal for the company’s identity.
By jumbling the letters of his own name together, the sports industry legend was able to create something entirely unique. The name is fun and punchy, and short enough to be a relatively memorable word in the modern landscape.
First launched in 1986, Pixar has become one of the most popular animation studios in the world. The subsidiary of Walt Disney Studios has created some of the globe’s best-known animated movies, including Toy Story, and the Incredibles.
The name was conceived as a fake Spanish name intended to refer to the process of making pictures. The sound “Pix” in this title directly connects our minds to the animated movies the business is best-known for.
Like many of the best invented brand names, Pixar is also short, compelling and easy to remember.
One of the most commonly referenced examples of invented names in the modern world, Kodak is the title for a photography and technology company. Kodak was first launched in 1892, by a man named George Eastman.
When coming up with a moniker for his business, Eastman wanted something simple and unique, so it was easy to trademark.
Eastman liked the sound of the letter “K” and felt it was a powerful addition to his business name, so he placed it at both the front and end of the new word. The sound of the name is fantastic, as it reminds us of the clicking sound of a camera shutter.
Originally launched in 1911 as the “Standard Oil of New Jersey”, Exxon has evolved quite a few times over the years. It first embraced the name “Exxon” in 1973. The word used by the company is entirely unique to the brand and was intended to convey its futuristic nature.
The use of a double “X” is very unusual in the branding world, so it’s excellent for setting the company apart from its competitors. The letter “E” also refers to the brand outlets owned by the business, Enco, and Esso.
If you’re familiar with the design and creative world, you’re probably aware of the company “Pantone”. This limited liability company is best-known for creating a color matching system for the creative world.
Pantone colors are used in a variety of industries, including graphic design and the printing landscape.
The name “Pantone”, is intended to reference the color-focused nature of the business. According to the company, the title comes from the words “pan”, meaning “all”, and “tone”, as an indicator of color.
It’s a fun and easy to remember name, ideal for differentiating the brand.
The Sony Company first launched in 1946, with a strong focus on the technology and digital landscape. Today, it’s one of the world’s largest manufacturers of electronic products and sound systems.
Sony’s name is entirely unique, and made up by the brand, but it has a lot of underlying meaning which makes it more memorable.
According to some experts, the word is a reference to the term “Sonus”, which is the Latin term for sound. However, it’s also connected to the slang term for a young man, “Sonny”.
Simple and easy to pronounce, “Sony’s” name has become a household word for many customers.
It’s hard to write about some of the most famous invented brand names of all time without referencing Google. The world’s best-known search and technology company, Google has definitely achieved a status as a household name for most of the digital world.
Google’s name actually comes from a mistake. The company originally chose the name “Googol” as a reference to the extremely large number of search results it hoped to deliver. However, the application for the trademark was misspelled as “Google”.
The business decided to preserve the misspelling as it was unique, engaging, and modern.
An excellent insight into how business names can come from almost anywhere, IKEA is a fully made-up name. There are some hidden references behind the title too, however.
For instance, the first two letters of the moniker are the initials of the founder, Ingvar Kamprad. The second two letters refer to the Elmtaryd farm near Agunnaryd.
When it was first introduced, the name IKEA was completely meaningless. However, over time, it became a memorable and compelling choice for identifying the brand.
Today, IKEA is one of the better-known titles in the home and interior design space.
Tips for choosing an invented brand name
Invented brand names can have a lot of potential when used properly. They’re a unique opportunity to highlight the values and personality of your business using a combination of sounds. They’re also extremely difficult to construct on your own.
The key to choosing an effective invented brand name is time and focus. You’ll need to dedicate significant time to understanding how linguistics and different sounds can influence your customers.
If you want to use an invented name to bring your business to life, the following tips may be useful for you.
1. Seek professional assistance
The best invented brand names require expertise. As mentioned above, it’s not enough to simply combine a random selection of letters.
You need a deep understanding of language, linguistics, and human psychology. Not every business leader has the skills required to fabricate a name from scratch.
These companies have a strong understanding of how different sounds convey specific meaning. They can analyze the linguistic properties of a potential name and create focus groups to see what certain terms might convey.
2. Do your research
There are millions of words in different languages used all around the world. Even if you think your name is entirely new, there’s a chance even a segment of it could be a reference to something you’re not aware of.
With this in mind, it’s important to do your due diligence.
Research is a critical part of any brand naming process. You need to understand your audience, your competitors, and how certain words influence different customers.
Extensive research into sounds and syllables will help to ensure you don’t choose a name which has the wrong impression on your target audience.
A professional agency can also help with this.
3. Invest heavily in your brand identity
With an invented name, you can’t rely on your moniker alone to send all the right messages to your target audience. Your name isn’t going to mean anything at first, so it’s up to you to infuse it with the correct meaning.
Before you even start the naming process, it makes sense to sit down and create a clear set of brand guidelines. Decide what the values of your company are, what your personality is going to be like, and how you’re going to differentiate yourself from your competition.
This can help to inspire the naming process, while giving you a foundation you can use to build your brand.
4. Look for hidden meaning
An invented name shouldn’t be a random combination of letters or words. The key to a great business name is finding something which sounds great and resonates with your target audience. As such, there needs to be some meaning behind it, even if your name doesn’t have a specific definition.
Look at the examples of invented names mentioned above, for instance. Google is a reference to the word “Googol”, which is a mathematical measurement. Pixar reminds us of “pictures”, which draws attention to the animation landscape.
Think about what your name could be perceived to mean by someone interacting with it for the first time.
5. Always test the name
One of the biggest challenges with invented brand names, is you can’t always guarantee people are going to pronounce and understand the title straight away. With this in mind, it’s worth testing your title with your internal team, and any customers you may already have.
Present your title to a range of people and find out how they might say it, or spell it. Is it easy to remember, and does it roll off the tongue naturally? A name which is too complex will be difficult to remember, even if it’s unique.
During the testing process, you can also determine how your name makes other people feel.
Leveraging invented business names
Invented brand names have a lot of potential in the right circumstances. These creative titles are completely unique to your business, which makes them easy to trademark and own. They’re also fantastic for flexibility and growth.
However, creating a new word from scratch is no simple task. You’ll need a deep knowledge of language, an understanding of your audience, and a clear view of what you’re trying to create.
In most cases, you’ll find it’s helpful to seek out help from a professional.
We’ve made our name by naming other businesses. If you require a new name for your brand, product or service, let’s start a conversation…