Sportswear Brand Naming – Getting it right

When coming up with your brand identity, one of the first things you need to consider is the brand name and logo. With a large amount of sports brands out there, you need to ensure that your brand strategy connects with your target market and that it has a positive impact. This is your chance to differentiate yourself from your competitors and connect with your target audience so that you can be recognised and remembered as a quality brand.

You need to create a brand name, one that is memorable but for the right reasons and not the wrong ones. Your brand name needs to be easy to pronounce, so there is not the argument of Nike or Nikey or the other common sportswear brand pronunciation Adidas or Adeedas. Your potential customers need to have a clear perception of what your brand stands for from the beginning with your brand name and brand image for a good brand positioning.


Building a brand name needs to be something that is easy to spell and easy to remember, so think about a short name like Nike that is short and easy to remember. However, if we take a brand name like Gymshark that relates to the product and gives that clear initial image to the potential customer, this is one that the customer can connect with as it says something meaningful about the brand.


Your brand’s name should be your brand’s key objective, which is strongly founded on your brand promise, positioning, brand values and tailored to fit with your core customer mindset. An effective brand name is memorable and enables it to carry a hugely significant portion of your brand's recognition all on its own. It captures your target markets heart and brings them back to you when they are looking to purchase. On the other hand, a forgettable brand name forces you to work much harder to keep your brand visible or even memorable to your customers.


Try to think about the words and vocabulary that is specific to your sports area and the connections that those that have a passion for that sport will have for that name. If you are trying to build a brand identity that comes from a certain city or country, think about the names that you could use that everyone around the world will connect with on some level. If you have multiple potential names from different areas like these, you can use a name generator to combine your ideas and it will help you with potential other words that you could add. Don't think that all of those names and idea that you came up with were a waste of time, all of those ideas will help you cement a brand personality and will help you in the next step of coming up with a brand slogan and with your messaging to potential customers.


You'll want to find out more about your target market and what visual identity that they like and connect with, you will find Facebook groups for all the different sports and hobbies around sports, and these will help you to see what brands other people are following on social media. Being a member of these groups will also allow you to run Facebook surveys, so you can see which brand names your potential customers like the most as well.


Having a unique and brand name will help you rank better in Google searches and stand out from your market competitors. We recommend that you try to create something completely different to your nearest competitors so that there isn’t any confusion or association. This will make your brand positioning stronger and more confident.


Some key brand name creation ideas and examples;


  1. Founder/s name/s – Fila owned by the Fila brothers in Italy

  2. Descriptive name – Under Armour

  3. Geographic name – Patagonia

  4. Personification – Jack Wolfskin

  5. Evocative names - Lifeventure

  6. Alliteration or Rhyming names – Sweaty Betty

  7. Derivative names (comes from another source) – Osprey

  8. Neologisms (a newly coined word) – Clug

  9. Hybrid names – Weldtite

  10. Acronyms and initials - dhb


When creating a brand, think about multiple different options and run them past your friends and family to see what they think about when they hear your brand names. We recommend that you research brand names and work out if anything similar has been used previously to avoid having to change your brand name after you are up and running, as this will be very costly. Once you have started to find a brand name that you and your friends are liking, ensure that it doesn't translate into anything offensive in other languages, so you don’t lose a potential market.


There are several examples of brand names that don’t work with international audiences, one example is the brand PONY, known for making cheap sportswear in the 90s and sponsoring several football teams in the UK. This brand name didn’t work in the UK, due to the Cockney rhyming slang term “pony” which means £25. With all of their sportswear being recognised as a cheap brand “only worth a pony” this was not the go-to brand for those wishing not to be taken the mick out of whilst playing football with their friends and has since focussed its market in Asia due to being sold between companies several times.


Think about religious brand names and work out if this narrows your audience or could cause a negative opinion from those with religious backgrounds. For instance, we had an enquiry from one start-up that wanted to call their brand “Jesus Equestrian Wear”. This is fine if your target market has a strong religious belief towards Jesus, however, “Jesus Equestrian Wear” probably isn’t the right name, based on this being abbreviated as JEW, so this name won’t work for smaller items of clothing either due to it not being able to be abbreviated. The last thing you want to do is come up with your sportswear brand and start to raise brand awareness and then have to rebrand all of your sportswear due to your name having a negative translation.


Once you have your brand strategy finalised, it is time to ensure that you can apply a trademark to your business name, you don't want to run into issues once you have got the ball rolling. You'll also want to get your hands on a domain name that works with your brand name and is just as easy to remember as your brand name. It'll take a while for your website to rank well in Google search results, so you don't want to be losing customers with them trying to find your website via searching for the website when they could have just typed the web address in themselves.


Now that you have your brand name, it is now time to design a logo that works alongside the brand name. This is also the time to ensure that your brand logos stands out and doesn’t look similar to well-known brands like the Nike swoosh or Adidas three stripes and is called brand development. You can read how to design your logo in our blog post to help you get a solid brand identity.