5 steps to choosing a great brand name
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5 steps to choosing a great brand name

What’s in a name but your entire identity? When it comes to branding the name is pretty much the most important part of the step. More than being unique and having special meaning, it’s what sets you apart and sets the tone to your audience about what you do.

There’s no doubt that choosing the perfect brand name is one of the most exciting and important elements of building your brand, but it’s also one of the hardest. When you do get it right your name becomes interchangeable with the product like how ‘Colgate’ is synonymous with toothpaste in general or how ‘Stork’ is margarine. These brands did so well in their marketing and branding that they dominated their markets to the point where their brand became the product.

This is the first of a series to help you take over the African landscape with a killer brand name. It takes more than a logo and a great slogan to build a strong brand identity. And we have 5 simple steps to help you in the important process of picking and creating the perfect name for your brand. Today we look at one but stay in touch so as to collect all 5 points from this blog.


STEP 1. Define Your Ideal Consumer

Before you begin to even think of a name it’s super important that you identify the characteristics that the kind of person who is in need of your products and services has. And be as specific as possible because, if you don’t know who you’re creating your brand for, then you will never be able to find a name that appeals to your audience.

For Mawazo we knew that our ideal customer was either

  • an African marketing to fellow Africans or
  • someone looking to break into the African market.

In other words, our ideal customer needs someone who speaks, eats and breathes African.

Although it may seem tedious, knowing your customer from the beginning will help you when you are creating your marketing and business strategies. Like we said before, knowing your ideal customer is kinda, SUPER IMPORTANT! so it’s well worth the effort! By focusing on the finer details from the beginning your brand is much more well-defined when you do launch.

And don’t be shy to spy on your competition’s strategies, the content they share on their digital platforms, the people they speak to and how those people react. By identifying the strengths and flaws in your competition you can build a better brand that better understands what the customer wants.


STEP 2. Model your brand

Define as overtly as possible what your brand means or represents. This step will help you understand how to forge emotional connections with your ideal customer (whom you will understand intimately because you didn’t skip the first step…).

What brand values do you want to communicate? Would a pun be ideal for the image you are trying to build for your business? What are the feelings you want to invoke from the consumer, luxury, convenience or security?

Golden Rule: You want your brand name to speak more about who you are or what you do.

Mawazo means ideas or thought in Swahili.

  • Why ideas? Because its what we do best.
  • Why Swahili? Because we speak African.

Remember that our ideal customer is looking for an agency that understands the nuances of the African market? What better way to communicate this idea than using the widest spoken African language.

More examples:

MyDrive: an FBC Insurance product that allows the customer to pay only for the kilometres they drive not more, not less.

Nyaradzo: The word means memorial in shona. The event that people go to after the funeral of a person to gather together and comfort each other. The company provides funeral cover and policies that help subscribers to mourn in peace.


STEP 3. Generate brand name ideas

The next step in the process: Generate brand name ideas, which are loyal to both your brand model and your brand’s consumer. Here are some general principles that can help you out and remember to take it slow, the more detailed the process is, the more completely your brand name will define your brand.

  1. Keep your brand name simple

The perfect brand name will be short and easy to say. The less syllables you have the more memorable it is.

  1. Play around with word association games when brainstorming brand name ideas: write down all the words you think are associated with your brand as possible. Sift through an online thesaurus to find even more words you can attribute! Once you’re done narrow your pool down to a few words you think are best suited.
  2. Get feedback from people around you because although it is your brand that you’re building the brand name must appeal to outside consumers.
  3. Try inventing a completely new word or combining two words to form a new one – for example PicknPay (Pick-And-Pay).
  4. Consider using foreign language words.


STEP 4. Check if your brand name is still available

Once you have a list of possible brand names, make sure to double check that the name does not exist already and that should you do a website in the future, your domain is available.

A recent example of not checking for name availability is the new launch of Pepsi’s energy drink in Zimbabwe. Sting is also an alcoholic fruit cooler and the brand has been around in Zimbabwe for years, but due to the economic situation it was not on the shelves for a number of years. But despite its absence people still knew about the brand. When Pepsi launched their Sting, AFDIS relaunched the old Sting. Pepsi effectively gave AFDIS free marketing because people kept speculating if their Sting was the old Sting. But because the brand name was not trademarked, AFDIS could not legally challenge Pepsi for the right to use the name in Zimbabwe.

But in the case of the RG battle between the two cigarette brands, Rudland & George and Remington Gold, because Remington Gold had trademarked the RG brand for their sole use in Zimbabwe, Rudland & George had to rebrand.

So before settling on a name to make sure to check the name for use and trademark; a quick google search can help. Also visit the ARIPO offices to check if the name is trademarked. Also ensure that your chosen domain name is free using web portals such as GoDaddy. Don’t forget that searching possible social media handles is free and try to ensure that you have one handle across all platforms to keep your identity uniform.


STEP 5. Give your brand name a Test Run

Before choosing your final name test out the finalists to see which of brand names stands out and is most likely to be memorable to your potential customers. Make sure to conduct your research as objectively as you can, remember it about what the market is drawn to, not what you want that will make sales.

If you have existing customers for other products, conduct surveys online or in market. If you are a new startup, this actually becomes a part of your market research. You can include family, friends, colleagues, neighbors in your research, the goal is to find out which name sticks!

Once you’ve found the perfect name its time to start building your logo with colour and symbols that speak to your identity and values.

And once that’s done put yourself out there and be as loud as you can be! Have presence on all major social media platforms, make sure your website is up to date and vibrant and make use of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) to boost your visibility!



Your brand name will only be one (super important) part of the long-term development of your brand. Look at how Apple has grown to become one of the biggest brands in the world, meanwhile, the brand name is just a fruit but the brand identity is all about technology. Their growth was a process, and so will yours too. Your brand name and logo will only be a part of what your brand stands for.

Have you recently started your own business? Share the process you used to find the perfect brand name with us in the comments below.


Maka Maunganidze

Head Of Digital Marketing at MADX, the digital arm of Mawazo BranDevelopment