Brand Name

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms - Definition and Examples

View of a city street with many brand names on signs.


Dong Wenjie / Getty Images

A brand name is a name (usually a proper noun) applied by a manufacturer or organization to a particular product or service.

Brand names are usually capitalized. In recent years bicapitalized names (such as eBay and iPod) have become popular. 

A brand name may be used and protected as a trademark. In writing, however, it's not usually necessary to identify trademarks with the letters TM.

Examples and Observations

  • "Jacuzzi is a commercial brand, hot tub is the generic term; i.e., all Jacuzzis are hot tubs, but not all hot tubs are Jacuzzis."
    (Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper in "The Toast Derivation." The Big Bang Theory, 2011)
  • "Computer users searching online for information say they are 'Googling.' Commercials running in states like Michigan and Ohio suggest that shoppers go 'Krogering.' But what will investors make of a campaign that proposes they start 'Vanguarding'?
    "The campaign, scheduled to begin this week, turns the Vanguard brand name into a verb, the better to help potential customers remember the company’s mutual funds and other investment products."
    (Stuart Elliott, "The Verb Treatment for an Investment House." The New York Times, March 14, 2010)

Key Attributes of a Brand Name

  • "According to Kapferer (2000, p. 112), 'the brand's name is often revealing of the brand's intentions.' It is a powerful source of identity and helps to project the intended image of the product against the competition and in the process of positioning a brand in the minds of the target audience (Ries and Trout 1980). In overcrowded markets with narrower segments, brand names play a crucial role. Susannah Hart (1998, p. 34) of Interbrand suggests that the key attributes of a brand name are: A name itself need not necessarily convey objectives or associations. Freestanding names like Shell, Kodak and Sony don't actually suggest any attribute or benefit, whereas associative names like Pampers, Visa and Comfort do."
    (Micael Dahlén, Fredrik Lange, and Terry Smith, Marketing Communications: A Brand Narrative Approach. Wiley, 2010)
    • allows brands to become part of everyday life by enabling consumers to specify, reject or recommend brands;
    • can communicate overtly (e.g., Rentokil) or subconsciously; and
    • can become a valuable asset as it functions as a legal device.

    Background of Brand Naming

    • "Brand naming has existed for centuries. Italians made watermarks on paper in the twelve-hundreds, During the industrial revolution, companies sought to inspire consumer confidence with names borrowed from their owners’ families: Singer sewing machines, Fuller brushes, Hoover vacuums--all names that are still in use. Before the First World War, there was a wave of abstract names ending in 'o' (like Brillo and Brasso), followed, in the nineteen-twenties, by one of 'ex' names: Pyrex, Cutex, Windex. But, according to Eric Yorkston, a marketing professor at Texas Christian University, modern brand naming--with its sophisticated focus groups and its linguistic and psychological analysis--began in the years after the Second World War, when the explosion of similar products from competing companies made imaginative naming an increasing necessity."
      (John Colapinto, "Famous Names." The New Yorker, October 3, 2011)

    Brand Names and Logos

    • "Australia is to become the world’s first country to ban logos and branding on cigarette packets, in a move tobacco companies say will increase the black market trade. . . .
      "Plain packaging, which will be introduced from July 1st, 2012, will mean cigarette packets will all be the same color and carry large, graphic health warnings. The brand name will appear in a small font. The font style and size and the position of the brand will be uniform."​
      (Padraig Collins, "Australia Will Be First Country to Ban Logos on Cigarette Packets." The Irish Times, March 24, 2010)

    Brand Names and Language Differences

    • "The impact of language differences must be understood if a brand name is to be successfully transferred since key elements of the marketing communication mix used to sell products, like brand names or advertising campaigns, are language based.
      " . . . [W]e propose that when entering the Chinese market, three decision rules should be followed in order to successfully transfer a brand name to China: First, the brand name should accurately reflect the 'unique selling proposition' or the 'basis of sustainable competitive advantage' of the product/brand. Second, a successfully transferred brand name has a 'symbolic' as well as a literal meaning: one that induces positive associations between the transferred brand and the preferred cultural practices or personal goals. Third, a successfully transferred brand name should be memorable; it should enter the evoked set with top of the mind recall."
      (Julie Mo, Jason McNicol, and Lance Eliot Brouthers, "What Is in a Name? Transferring Brands to China." Marketing in the 21st Century: New World Marketing, Vol. One, ed. by T. J. Wilkinson and A.R. Thomas. Greenwood, 2007)

      Also Known As: trade name