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Copyright 2006
Cornell University.
All rights reserved.


Choosing a Brand Name

Your brand can be the name of your company or you may have several brands within your company. Entrepreneurs often begin with a single product and name it for its function. For example, Jogbra (now Champion Jogbra) developed the first bra for women to wear when jogging.

When the company grew and wanted to offer other women's products and men's wear as well, the trademarked name was a problem.

It excluded other women's apparel and men's wear by its use of the word bra. The company started using JBI (JogBra International) instead of Jogbra. Eventually the company was sold and now Champion Jogbra is the brand name.

You should ask five initial questions about potential brand names you are considering.

Choosing a brand name
  1. Does the brand name indicate something about the core benefits?
  2. Does it indicate product qualities such as warmth, fashion, or color?
  3. Is it easy to pronounce, recognize, and remember?
  4. Is it distinctive?
  5. Does it have negative meanings in some subcultures, countries, or languages?

Many entrepreneurs use their own names as their company name and/or brand name. This certainly establishes a unique identity and one connected directly to the designer/entrepreneur (unless you share a name with a famous or infamous person such as Colin Powell or Julia Childs or George Clooney).

Using your name connects the value of the design with you.

However, you do need to consider:

  • How long will it take for people to recognize the core benefit of the product or service if your name is not well known?
  • Will it be easy to find suitable names for brand extensions and enough of them? Think: Liz Claiborne, Elizabeth, Liz Sport, etc.
  • What if your product or service is not successful? Will your name be ruined along with your unsuccessful business venture?
  • What if you want to sell your company in the future? Will you be selling your name as well?


1. Consider how well the five questions for naming brands were followed with well-known brand names (for example, Diesel, Vera Wang, L.L. Bean, Patagonia, others).

2. List some advantages and disadvantages for a new apparel business to use the following brand names: Softly Technical, Kazamento, United Colors, and your own name.






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