Are All the Good Names Taken?
February 21, 2018

A recent article in the Harvard Law Review states that the universe of brand names is becoming finite. Others believe that "all the good names are gone." While these conclusions are debatable—the article glosses over important categories of names, such as compounds that combine known words (e.g., Facebook)—what Lexicon Branding sees as true is that it is far more difficult to create and protect a brand name than ever before.

Lexicon Branding, a leading brand development firm, estimates that over 300,000 new marks are filed for registration each year in the US alone. Furthermore, according to David Placek, Lexicon's founder and president, "names are not only more difficult to create, but they have to work all the harder to survive in today's digital world. They need to work across multiple media platforms, be accessible to diverse languages and cultures, and still be distinctive and competitive."

With over 35 years of experience, Placek offers a unique perspective. According to him, "since most product and service categories already have easily-differentiated names like Die Hard batteries or Mr. Clean, taking the traditional approach to name development is a march of folly. Part of the reason so many people think all the good names are taken is that most organizations haven't changed their philosophy to developing brand names."

According to published USPTO data, over 700,000 trademarks are registered in class 9 for software, hardware, and other "scientific apparatus." With these kinds of figures, Lexicon has moved from creating names that differentiate by feature or benefit to names that are driven by distinctiveness, accessibility, and noteworthiness.

"The most important thing to keep in mind," Placek states, "is that nothing will be used more often or for longer than the brand name. It must be created as a strategic marketing tool – not simply as a name or a label, but as a lasting competitive advantage."

To adjust to the challenge of creating what Placek describes as "high value and high impact brand names," Lexicon has over the last few years developed linguistic software, opened an office in Europe, and refined the company's creative structure. While Placek acknowledges that creating unique names is very challenging, he is confident that "with the right philosophy, talent, and approach, there is plenty of opportunity to create remarkable brand names for many years to come."