Useful List: What makes a great brand name?

Search online for "what makes a great brand name" and you'll find plenty of strong opinions. Articles, agency blog posts, naming guides, and even books about naming often contain their own lists of qualities that make or break a brand name. Some lists are long, like Catchword's 10 Naming Criteria.  Other lists are simpler: a page on Novanym's site titled "What makes a great brand name?" contains just four bullet points. And some agencies insist it depends entirely on the underlying strategy—that there are no universal qualities of good brand names.

The list below compiles and organizes qualities ascribed to great brand names from a range of different sources:

This is not necessarily an exhaustive or perfect list of what makes a brand name great—decisions around whether to include and how to categorize items can always be debated. But we've done our best to make the list complete and avoid redundancies. And when we find new ideas and/or new, reputable sources to include, we'll add them to this list. We'd love to get your thoughts; feel free to comment, ask questions, or make suggestions below.

Sort a HTML Table Alphabetically
Quality Source(s) No. of sources
Distinctive
  • A Hundred Monkeys (Rarity)
  • The Brand Gap (Distinctiveness)
  • Catchword (Distinctiveness)
  • Eat My Words (Not a Copycat)
  • Franke+Fiorella (Ensuring distinctiveness)
  • Igor (Distinctive)
  • Laura Ries (Unique)
  • Zinzin* (Differentiation)
7
Easy to say
  • The Brand Gap (Easy Spelling and Pronunciation)
  • Catchword (Accessibility)
  • Eat My Words (Not Hard to say)
  • Laura Ries (Speakable)
  • Novanym (Easy to say)
  • Tanj (Easy to pronounce)
6
Easy to spell
  • The Brand Gap (Easy Spelling and Pronunciation)
  • Catchword (Accessibility)
  • Eat My Words (Not Spelling-challenged)
  • Laura Ries (Spellable)
  • Novanym (Easy to spell)
  • Tanj (Easy to write)
6
Exciting/creative
  • A Hundred Monkeys (Provocative)
  • The Brand Gap (Likability)
  • Catchword (Magnetism)
  • Eat My Words (Not Tame)
  • Igor (Energy)
  • Laura Ries (Shocking)
  • Zinzin* (Temperature)
6
Conveys/suggests key message(s)
  • Eat My Words (Suggestive)
  • Igor (Positioning)
  • Laura Ries (Suggestive of the category)
  • Tanj (Communicate key messages)
  • Zinzin* (Breadth)
4
Legally available
  • The Brand Gap (Protectability)
  • Catchword (Protectability)
  • Franke+Fiorella (Protecting your investment)
  • Igor (Trademark)
4
Matches the brand strategy
  • The Brand Gap (Appropriateness)
  • Catchword (Consistency and Brand fit)
  • Franke+Fiorella (Building off the strategy)
  • Tanj (On brief)
4
Can stretch
  • The Brand Gap (Extendibility)
  • Eat My Words (Legs, not Restrictive)
  • Novanym (Not blandly descriptive or made from generic key words)
3
Short
  • The Brand Gap (Brevity)
  • Catchword (Conciseness)
  • Laura Ries (Short)
3
Sounds good
  • Catchword (Euphony)
  • Igor (Sound)
  • Laura Ries (Alliterative)
  • Zinzin* (Voice)
3
Emotionally resonant
  • Eat My Words (Emotional)
  • Franke+Fiorella (Connecting emotionally)
2
Has personality
  • A Hundred Monkeys (Personality)
  • Igor (Humanity)
  • Zinzin* (Personality)
2
Linguistically viable
  • Catchword (Appropriateness)
  • Franke+Fiorella (Paying attention to linguistics and universal meaning)
2
Looks good
  • Eat My Words (Imagery)
  • Igor (Appearance)
  • Zinzin* (Visual)
2
Relevant to audience
  • Eat My Words (Meaningful, not Annoying, no "Curse of knowledge")
  • Tanj (Relevant to audience)
2
Timeless
  • Catchword (Longevity)
  • Business Insider ("Avoid trends")
2
Deep, with layers of meaning
  • Igor naming guide (Depth)
  • Zinzin naming guide* (Depth)
1
Domain name availability
  • Novanym (Original, with perfect .com name)
1
Eponymous
  • Laura Ries (Personal)
1
Focused
  • A Hundred Monkeys (Focus)
1
Memorable
  • Tanj(Easy to remember)
1
Mysterious
  • Igor (33)
  • Zinzin* (X-factor)
1
Simple
  • Laura Ries (Simple)
1
* The Zinzin naming guide is no longer counted in the "No. of sources" column because it lists qualities that are redundant with those listed in the Igor Naming Guide.

This Useful List will be updated periodically with new list items. Please share any suggested additions in the comments section.