There are two categories of brand names. Each has it’s advantages and disadvantages.
Most brands we know are Proper Names which designate a particular being or thing.
Examples are Mercedes-Benz, Coca-Cola, Disney, Yahoo, Google, Amazon.com.
Proper name brands are easier to trademark, easier to create a unique brand identity, and allow more freedom to evolve your business over time. Traditional thinkers in marketing advocate choosing a brand name using a proper name. These are the brand names you see at the supermarket, department stores, and who spend big money on promoting and advertising their brand so you will remember it.
Common names brands are considered “generic” names because they describe any one of a class of beings or things.
Examples are Booking.com, Hotels.com, American Airlines, Apartments.com.
Common name brands are more descriptive about the nature of the business.
In the past common name brands were scoffed at by traditional marketers who declared you could never create a singular identity image in the mind of a consumer, when branding on a generic domain. If your brand was Cars.com, then every business using the word CARS as part of its name would share mindshare with every other business with a similar name – like CarStore.com, CarDealer.com, CarPlace.com.
Additionally you can not get trademark protection on most of the common name brands. For example, you could not block others from using the word “CARS” in their business name, as the common word is descriptive of the business they are in which makes it acceptable to use. Before a company invest in a big spending budget to promote their products or services, they want to gain some trademark protection so others do not directly benefit from their brand promotion.
However, common name brands have an advantage online due to the way search engines work. Current search engine algorithms favor websites where the keyword a user is searching with, is contained within the name of the business. Search engines are the primary method that internet users find websites, unless they know the brand name by memory. Since few businesses in the world have the budget to do TV advertisements, or other expensive advertisement mediums, most businesses depend upon search traffic for new customers.
Moral of the story is, if you are a startup with a limited budget to work with (like most startups), then selecting a quality common name brand will help you rank better in the search engines thus get more traffic to your website, and depend less on spending precious funds on marketing and advertising. Conversely if you are well funded, and want to put products on the shelf at stores, then look at branding a name that is unique and is not too descriptive about your product or company. You want to create the association of your brand to your product or company with your advertisement and marketing effort.