Descriptive vs. Evocative Brand Names: Finding the Right Balance

Brand Names
Brand Names

A brand name uniquely identifies your product or business. It helps people remember your product whenever they ‘see’ or ‘hear’ your brand name. Brand names are not just fancy labels but powerful marketing tools. It also serves as an effective advertising strategy.

Brand names uniquely identify products or services to make them distinguishable from competitors. A well-established brand name fosters trust and loyalty among consumers. Moreover, it conveys essential information about the product’s benefits, quality, and value proposition.

Types of Brand Names

Brand names are a crucial element in the identity and perception of a company. They serve as a primary touchpoint for customers and can significantly influence a brand’s success in the market. Over time, various types of brand names have been identified, each with its unique characteristics and strategic implications. Here is an overview of the different types of brand names:

  • Descriptive: Names that describe the product or service directly (e.g., General Electric).
  • Acronyms: Names formed from the initial letters of a longer name or phrase (e.g., IBM for International Business Machines).
  • Founders’ Names: Names that use the name of the founder(s) (e.g., Ford from Henry Ford).
  • Invented: Completely made-up or coined names with no inherent meaning (e.g., Kodak).
  • Evocative: Names that evoke a feeling, association, or experience related to the brand (e.g., Amazon).
  • Geographical: Names that are derived from locations or landmarks (e.g., American Airlines).
  • Compound Words: Names created by combining two words (e.g., Facebook).
  • Historical: Names that reference historical figures, places, or events (e.g., Tesla, named after Nikola Tesla).
  • Lexical: Names that play with words, using puns, alliteration, or other linguistic devices (e.g., Dunkin’ Donuts).
  • Misspelled: Deliberately misspelled names (e.g., Lyft).
  • Real-word: Names that use real, existing words with meanings not directly related to the brand (e.g., Apple).
  • Arbitrary: Names that use common words in an unrelated context (e.g., Shell).
  • Metaphorical: Names that use metaphors to convey the brand’s attributes or values (e.g., Jaguar).
  • Portmanteaus: Names created by blending parts of two or more words (e.g., Pinterest from “pin” and “interest”).
  • Truncated: Names that are shortened forms of longer words (e.g., FedEx from Federal Express).
  • Fanciful: Imaginative or fantasy names that don’t have a specific meaning (e.g., Xerox).

Although these types illustrate the diversity in brand naming strategies, professionals often prefer a more refined method, like the two-axis chart, for categorization. This method likely assesses the dimensions of descriptiveness vs. abstractness and commonality vs. uniqueness, offering a nuanced and practical framework for categorizing and understanding brand names.

The Strength of Descriptive Names

Descriptive brand names are straightforward. They explicitly convey what a company does or the products and services it offers. This transparency can be immensely beneficial, especially for businesses entering competitive markets where clarity and immediate understanding can set a brand apart.

For instance, “Amazon” vividly suggests a vast marketplace, while “General Motors” leaves no room for ambiguity about its role in the automotive industry.

Pros of Descriptive Names

Clarity and Immediate Recognition: Descriptive names leave little to the imagination, ensuring that potential customers quickly understand the brand’s essence.

SEO Benefits: These names often align with relevant keywords, enhancing online discoverability and search engine rankings.

Establishing Trust: Clarity can build trust, as customers appreciate businesses that are straightforward about their offerings.

The Art of Evocative Names

Conversely, evocative names aim to create an emotional connection or paint a vivid picture without explicitly describing the product or service. Such names often trigger curiosity, leaving room for interpretation and engaging the audience’s imagination. For example, “Apple” doesn’t directly reveal the company’s line of products but fosters a sense of innovation and uniqueness.

Pros of Evocative Names

Emotional Resonance: Evocative names elicit emotions, facilitating a personal connection between customers and the brand.

Versatility and Expansion: These names provide flexibility for a brand to diversify its offerings without the constraints of a specific description.

Memorability: Evocative names tend to stick in the minds of consumers, fostering brand recall and recognition.

Finding the Right Balance

The challenge involves striking a balance between being overly descriptive, which might limit future growth, and excessively evocative, which could lead to confusion or alienation.Successful brands often blend both approaches to create a harmonious and impactful identity.

Define Brand Essence: Start by clearly understanding the core values, mission, and unique selling propositions of the brand. This foundation will guide the choice between a more descriptive or evocative name.

Consider Target Audience: Analyze the preferences and expectations of the target audience. Younger demographics might resonate more with evocative names, while older consumers may prefer straightforward, descriptive ones.

Industry and Competition Analysis: Evaluate the naming conventions within the industry and assess how competitors have positioned themselves. Strive to stand out while maintaining relevance.

Test and Iterate: Conduct market research and gather feedback on potential names. A/B testing can help gauge audience reactions and preferences.


In the intricate dance between descriptive and evocative brand names, finding the right balance is an ongoing process that requires strategic thinking, creativity, and a deep understanding of the brand’s identity and audience. A well-crafted name serves as a powerful tool, shaping perceptions, driving engagement, and propelling a brand towards enduring success in the competitive business landscape.


1: How do you come up with a brand name?

Brainstorm ideas reflecting your brand’s essence, utilize name generators for inspiration, and ensure the name is memorable, unique, and resonates with your target audience.

2: What are the 7 types of brand names?

The seven types are:

  • Descriptive (e.g., General Motors),
  • Evocative (e.g., Amazon),
  • Invented (e.g., Kodak),
  • Lexical (e.g., Dunkin’ Donuts),
  • Acronymic (e.g., IBM),
  • Geographical (e.g., Cisco), and
  • Founder’s Name (e.g., Ford).

3: What to consider when choosing a brand name/

When choosing a brand name, prioritize memorability and simplicity to ensure it’s easily recalled and pronounced. Ensure relevance to your brand’s core values and offerings, and uniqueness to stand out in the market. Check legal availability to avoid infringement issues, consider marketability for effective promotion, and ensure the name aligns with your brand’s identity and values for a cohesive brand image.

Leave a Comment