What’s in a Name?

With a multitude of new businesses starting up each year, unique brand names are becoming harder to come by. This means we must employ creative and thoughtful strategies to construct a memorable one that lasts.

What makes a good name? Generally speaking, a name should be unique, timeless, easy to say, and easy to remember. The first impression should work in concert with the persona of your brand, while being versatile enough to adapt to changes or expansions to your products or services.

In this article we’ll cover some common naming myths and key considerations in the process.

Naming Myths

1. Naming an organization is simple

  • Naming is a rigorous and exhaustive process. Frequently, dozens of names are reviewed prior to finding one that is available and works.

2. I will know it when I hear it

  • People often indicate they will be able to make a decision after hearing a name once, when in reality, names are highly strategic, need to be closely examined, tested, sold, and proven.

3. I need to love the name

  • There is no perfect name and it is rarely love at first sight.
  • The list of trademarked names gets longer each day, resulting in fewer and fewer memorable names.
  • Be ready to compromise.

Key Considerations

1. Subject matter

Immediately obvious tie-in to the product or service isn’t always necessary for successful brand-building (think Apple Inc. and computers). However, a name that retains similar characteristics of the product or service can inherently build intended associations in the minds of consumers. For example, think about Puma and running shoes: would your perception of their athletic shoes be affected if the brand was called Turtle?

2. Get all the ideas on the table

When picking a name, the ‘final option’ usually doesn’t just appear from the outset. It’s a journey to get to the best option and usually begins with inspiration sessions that include white-boarding adjectives that relate to the organization’s core identity, products/services, culture, and other things that engage the heart of the intended audience. This is a cursory exercise with further refinement to follow, so there are no wrong suggestions at this stage. Unusual ideas can be a springboard for others to build off!

3. Is it available?

Once the best options are vetted and a shortlist is produced, it’s important to ensure the names can be registered with the companies office in the regions business will be conducted ( and that web domain names are available. We usually recommend buying any other similar domains (.com, .ca) to protect from others reserving them in the future.

4. Legal name vs. brand

We’re often asked if marks like ‘Inc.’ and, ‘Ltd.’ are required. In short, ‘Inc.’ and ‘Ltd.’ are part of legally incorporating a company but are not required in logos and rarely serve a purpose for viewers in marketing communications.

There is no legal requirement to use trademarks (TM), service marks (SM) and the like, although it can be wise to do so. When you use the TM or SM, you notify the public of your claim of branding rights and dissuade others from adopting the same mark for similar products or services.1

One of our clients needed to re-invent the identity of their personal and professional coaching consultancy to better identify with their North American audience. Through this process we arrived at a name that met multiple criteria on the wish-list: uniqueness, concept tie-in to the subject matter of services, unisex appeal, relevant domain names available, coherent visual elements, and more.
We’re on a continual journey throughout our lives and Waypoint represents a guiding beacon where one can stop to experience healing and help with overcoming life’s obstacles.

What’s in Our Name?

We take a measured and thoughtful approach to everything we do. Here’s an example of the thought behind our name and logo:

Three-Six North Marketing

The name “Three-Six” is short for Three-Six Zero which means North on a compass heading. Three Hundred and Sixty Degrees = North. This is an aviation theme but also a navigational theme – we see it as heading straight north, on a true trajectory (honest, trustworthy), and heading up (like the north arrow), taking your organization to new heights.

Runways at airports around the world are named after their heading orientation. Three-Six is a common major runway at many airports, and provides the means to ‘take off’ and soar.

Finally, Three Hundred and Sixty Degrees represents a complete, all-encompassing circle – just like the complete full-service approach we take to partnering with our clients.

What about Print Studio One?

Print Studio One (PSO) traces its roots back to Martens Printing which was founded in Steinbach over 50 years ago. Today, Three-Six North and Print Studio One work together under one roof.

Golden ratio image
The Golden Ratio
Closely related to the Fibonacci Sequence, The Golden Ratio is the most appealing relationship between two or more objects. Its ubiquity in nature and astounding functionality suggests its importance as a fundamental characteristic of the universe. For ages, this ratio has been used in arts, architecture, and now graphic design.
The Parthenon in Greece, the Mona Lisa, and the Apple logo all use the Golden Ratio to ensure a pleasing appearance to the human eye. When something just ‘feels off’, the Golden Ratio can often restore order and create pleasing aesthetics to the viewer.

In part two of this article we’ll take a deeper dive into the specifics of naming, including the types and qualities of effective brand names. Stay tuned.


1Gunelius, Susan. “When and How Do I Have to Use Trademark Symbols”., 12 March 2014.

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