Letters, words or groups of words, which can be written or spoken. Names can include a manufacturer's name in which the brand name is owned by the company making the individual branded product (e.g. Dulux, Persil, Maxwell House); a family brand name in which the brand is projected onto all products sold by the company (e.g. Microsoft, Kodak, Heinz, Campbell's); a category brand name for a range of products within the same category, such as household appliances (e.g. Hotpoint, Hoover, Whirlpool) or a specific product name combined with the company name (e.g. Mars Bar, Hershey Bar, Kellogg's Corn Flakes). A private label brand is one in which the company making the product does not have title to the brand name.
Most brand names are legally protected trademarks. One of the more famous brands, Coca-Cola, is fiercely protected, but it cannot have exclusive use of the second part of the name, cola, because this is viewed as a generic category name that is now used by many competitors. Generic names are difficult to protect because legal and regulatory authorities view them as being in the public domain. The same applies to names of cities, rivers, countries, and mountains.
Selection of new brand names has become increasingly complex. A new brand name with trademark now must also be registered for use as a website or domain name on the Internet. There are hundreds of millions of commercial domain names already registered on the Internet. This narrows the chances of creating a new name that is clear and descriptive of the product or service. As a result, new or rebranded companies often sport a range of fanciful or compound names with no direct relevance to the product or service delivered. See also logo; trademark.