Md Toy Blog

Good brand names


How are you going to name your next company or brand?

Alexandra Watkins, famous author of the book "My Name is Awesome", came up with two very simple acronyms, SMILE and SCRATCH. If you understand how they work, you will quickly know how to evaluate your naming idea.

The acronyms

The concept is that a name should make you SMILE instead of making you SCRATCH your head.


  • S: Suggestive (not in a naughty way). Just suggests something about your brand. Don't make people guess.
  • M: Meaningful to your customers, not just to you or your engineers.
  • I: Imagery, people remember images much better than letters.
  • L: Legs, that let you extend your brand though a theme with which you can have a lot of fun.
  • E: Emotional, which is the most important, you have to make that emotional connection with people.


  • S: Spelling challenge. If siri doesn't know what you are talking about, question the name. If it has a weird spelling, it is frustrating. You want to be approachable and not have people say: "Whaaat?"
  • C: Copycat, don't copy others, be original!
  • R: Restriction, you need to look into the future and make sure your name is not going to restrict you in the future.
  • A: Annoying, for example when you spell your name backwards like "Xobni" for saying "inbox", that's annoying to have to calculate every time.
  • T: Tame, you don't want your name to tame into the woodwork, you want it to stand out!
  • C: Curse of knowledge, that's when only insiders get it. Oftentimes it's a foreign word, or some engineering term that engineers understand but not the customers.
  • H: Hard to pronounce. Make sure people don't have to break their tongue to speak out your brand.

Try with some brand name and count your score: for every thing you do right +1 and -1 for every wrong. Double it if you do extremely good or bad on one.

Put it to the test

For example: Meow LLC for a Software company.

  • Suggestive: Really bad, meow is about cats, not technology. So -2

  • Meaningful: Everyone knows what the sound of a cat is. +1

  • Imagery: A "meow" is instantly relatable to a cat. +1

  • Legs: Cats are fun, animals are fun, sounds are fun. +1

  • Emotional: Everyone loves cats. +1

  • Spelling challenge: If you speak english, easy, if you speak spanish / italian or french, you will have a harder time. 0

  • Copycat: Nobody is crazy enough to use the sound of a cat "meowing", so original. +1

  • Restriction: Will the cat restrict the company in the future? Did "apple inc" get restricted? +1

  • Annoying: Not so much, but maybe not professional enough. 0

  • Tame: It stands out a bunch. +1

  • Curse of knowledge: Not that technical, but for french speakers it is a curse to know that "meow" is not written like in french "miaou". +1

  • Hard to pronounce: Easy. +1

Results: 7 / 12 = 58%, not so good in non english speaking countries. If I use it in english speaking countries i get: 9 / 12 = 75%.

How much did yours score ?