Catchword Branding

Award-winning brand naming and visual identity

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Catchword is a trusted leader in brand naming and logo design that’s been creating impactful identities for clients worldwide since 1998. From offices in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York, Catchword helps clients express who, what, and why they are. Industry-leading brands such as PwC, TikTok, Intel, Allergan, Boston Scientific, Starbucks, HBO, and VW turn to Catchword for creativity and strategic insight delivered with expert guidance.

Whether a quick-turnaround startup project or a Fortune 500 retainer, Catchword helps clients develop a timeless brand that resonates with target audiences.

Catchword has received more awards for naming work than any other agency, including Top Honors at the London International Awards and multiple awards from Transform Magazine, Hermes Creative, MarCom, C2A, and MUSE.

"The Catchword team members that I have worked with are truly experts in the field of naming and have a passion for linguistics, naming, and marketing that is evidenced by every interaction I have with them." – Corporate Marketing & Branding Director, Corning 

"What keeps us coming back to Catchword is the ease of working with them. … I wish I could have somebody at Catchword on call at all times.” Brand Director, PwC

"They provide incredible insights into the branding process. Instead of coming in with preconceived notions, they listened to what we wanted and took it to the next level." – Content Lead, Stanford Center for Global Health

NA
10 - 49
1998
Locations
United States
409 13th Street, 12th Floor, Tribune Tower, Oakland, California 94612
510.628.0080
United States
33 West 19th Street, 4th Floor, NYC, New York 10011
212.475.8936

Focus Areas

Service Focus

75%
25%
  • Advertising
  • Web Designing (UI/UX)

Client Focus

55%
35%
10%
  • Large Business
  • Medium Business
  • Small Business

Industry Focus

10%
10%
10%
10%
10%
50%
  • Business Services
  • Consumer Products
  • Financial & Payments

Catchword Branding Executive Interview

Maria Cypher
Maria Cypher
Co-Founder, Partner & Creative Lead
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Kindly share your feedback on how GoodFirms has been doing so far in increasing your visibility among potential clients.
We are delighted and proud to be the #1 listed agency for brand name development on GoodFirms. It’s a great resource for brands to find the right creative partner. The Catchword site has received many visitors from the platform over the years, and we look forward to many more.
Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the organization.
Catchword is a global leader in creating impactful, inspiring, and strategic brands for clients across industries. Our services include company and product naming, brand strategy and positioning, and visual identity. I co-founded Catchword in 1998 and serve as the creative lead, overseeing name development and myself developing hundreds or even thousands of names on a weekly basis. I also manage much of the back-end of the business and conceive of and contribute to many internal initiatives that keep us innovating in the branding space.
What is the story behind starting this company?
We opened our doors during the Wild West of the Internet—1998 in Oakland, CA, near Silicon Valley. At the time, there were few specialized naming firms but a lot of need for creative names that were available as trademarks and domain names. From our initial focus on tech and startups—with clients like Intel, HP, Cisco, and Asana (which we named)—we expanded to consumer products, financial services, biotech and healthcare, automotive, and more. In the last few years, we’ve formally added brand strategy and visual identity to our array of services, providing clients with a soup-to-nuts menu of brand positioning, name development, logo/wordmark, and more.
What are your company’s business model—in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
We have a seasoned in-house team of branding experts as well as veteran partners who are ready to join projects when a larger team or additional skills would best serve client needs.
How does your company differentiate itself from the competition?
We have over 25 years in the business and are pioneers in the field of naming. Our internationally recognized work—we’ve received 83 awards and counting—includes the creation of brands that became household names such as Upwork, Vudu, and VW Atlas. We are creatively agnostic. That is, we don’t advocate a certain style or come in with one-size-fits-all ideas. Instead, we immerse ourselves in the client’s business and culture and customize our approach accordingly. We also pride ourselves on being open, transparent, and responsive, and we always overdeliver.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive? If yes, what ratio of clients has been repetitive to you?
We work across industries, including tech, finance, healthcare, CPG, and automotive. We have many repeat clients and retainer clients, and together they constitute about half of our business.
Please share some of the services that you offer for which clients approach you the most for.
Clients approach us the most for company naming and product naming, but we also offer brand strategy (including positioning, architecture, and messaging), visual identity (logos, wordmarks, identity systems, and templates and guides), taglines, domain name advice, and linguistic and cultural analysis.
What is your customer satisfaction rate according to you? What steps do you take to cater to your customer’s needs and requirements?
As I mentioned above, over-delivery is our mantra! We take pride in wowing our clients with creative and strategic options and receive consistently positive feedback that our process keeps clients’ needs and concerns at the fore. Our account team is as engaged and responsive as they come. We are the top-ranked naming/branding firm across numerous ranker platforms, for which customer satisfaction is a key metric—so I have to say that our customer satisfaction is very high!
What kind of support system do you offer to your clients for catering to their queries and issues?
We are in constant communication with clients and are highly responsive to their questions and concerns. As anyone in the business of creativity will tell you, ours is a subjective field for which there can be multiple right answers—meaning clients sometimes need more communication and reassurance. Our account team is never a black box, and our process has been well-honed for over a quarter century to anticipate and address client queries and issues.
What kind of payment structure do you follow to bill your clients? Is it Pay per Feature, Fixed Cost, Pay per Milestone (could be in phases, months, versions etc.)?
Our payment structure varies depending on the scope and duration of the project. Most of our engagements are discrete, with a fixed budget, but we also have retainer clients and other kinds of ongoing relationships.
Do you take in projects which meet your basic budget requirement? If yes, what is the minimum requirement? If no, on what minimum budget you have worked for?
We do our best to meet clients’ budget needs and can be quite creative in finding a solution that works for everyone. While there is no minimum budget per se, our process is comprehensive, and tailored to larger companies and funded startups requiring global trademark availability—and our budgets reflect that.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2022?
We work with a wide range of budgets and scopes, from a single “blast” of brand naming creative to comprehensive branding projects including strategy and positioning, brand name development, visual identity design, tagline, and more. Budgets also vary depending on geography, trademark considerations, and the number of stakeholders involved.
Where do you see your company in the next 10 years?
In the past few years alone, we’ve expanded from our roots in name development to encompass brand strategy and visual identity—and added two new offices! Competition for trademarks is greater than ever, meaning that developing brand names and visual marks that are creative, strategic, and available requires deep expertise like ours. And with all the change and disruption in the world, there will only be a greater need for brands that inspire and engender trust, so I’m sure we’ll continue to see increased demand for our services.

Catchword Branding Clients & Portfolios

Key Clients

  • Asana
  • Starbucks
  • VW
  • Allergan
  • UpWork
  • PwC
  • Intel
  • Fitbit
  • Vudu
  • Aetna
  • Thermo Fisher
  • Boston Scientific
  • HBO
  • Amazon
  • Corning
  • TikTok
  • Unilever
  • Indeed
  • Hitachi

Asana
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Asana
  • Asana screenshot 1
Not Disclosed
6 weeks
Productivity

A software company formed by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and programming whiz Justin Rosenstein is clearly not ordinary. So, the company’s name also needed to stand out from the IT herd.

Asana, a Sanskrit word conveying “yoga pose,” reflects the founders’ love of yoga and their quest for focus, flow, and clarity. It’s also an apt name for the company’s productivity platform, which enables team members to manage complex projects smoothly.

In 2015, Asana announced 100% year-on-year growth, with 140,000 companies using its platform to generate annual recurring revenue in the tens of millions. Namaste.

Volkswagen Atlas
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Volkswagen Atlas
  • Volkswagen Atlas screenshot 1
Not Disclosed
8 weeks
Automotive

Volkswagen has some of the auto industry’s most iconic (and distinctive) cars and car names, from the Beetle to the Touareg. So we were excited when they called on us to name their sturdy 7-seat SUV, codenamed “CrossBlue.” Working with VW’s US, German and Chinese marketing teams, Catchword explored a broad range of messaging themes, and developed over 2500 name candidates. The global nature of the project meant we also carried out linguistic and cultural screening in 19 different languages, including Min Nan and Kejia Chinese. Atlas, the name VW decided to adopt, reinforces the vehicle’s size and strength and implies a titan among SUVs.

Fitbit
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Fitbit
  • Fitbit screenshot 1
Not Disclosed
8 weeks
Consumer Products

The margin for error was slim with these wireless fitness trackers. Successful names would have to be short enough to fit on the small devices, and match the snappiness of the mother brand. In addition, the names would need to fit within a larger portfolio of related products and still telegraph each product’s distinguishing features. For Fitbit’s entry-level device, Zip was in the zone, followed by One, which unifies data on exercise, calories burned, and sleep. Next came Flex, Fitbit’s first wristband, and finally Force, a fitness wristband to be reckoned with. All single syllable, all evocative, and all tied together by a common construction—a naming convention was born.

Vudu
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Vudu
  • Vudu screenshot 1
Not Disclosed
6 weeks
Media

From the moment we heard about this online movie service, it had us under its spell. Users can instantly stream an almost infinite library of HD movies on demand—as well as new releases—directly to their Xbox 360®, PlayStation® 3, Blu-ray™ player, HDTV, iPad®, or computer. And the crispness of the definition and richness of the surround sound makes Vudu little short of … well, voodoo.

Upwork
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Upwork
  • Upwork screenshot 1
Not Disclosed
8 weeks
Business Services

In 2014, Elance and oDesk, the two largest online platforms for connecting clients and freelance workers, decided to merge to better provide international services with their combined resources. They realized they could maximize impact by developing a new, unified brand. They called on Catchword to develop a new name that would capture their vision and inspire their global community of millions of independent professionals and the businesses hiring them. Upwork—the company’s new name as of May 2015—is as innovative and impactful as the company itself. The name invites you to reimagine how work happens today and suggests that the best talent is always up to the task.

NOTE: Upwork was named one of Inc. Magazine’s 10 best new company names of 2015! See here.

Ursa
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Ursa
  • Ursa screenshot 1
Not Disclosed
8 weeks
Media

While consumers have many options for streaming music nowadays, most subscription-based services are focused solely on delivering as much music as possible, and provide little opportunity for artists and fans to interact in truly meaningful ways. Ursa, the name Catchword developed for an exciting new music engagement “ecosystem,” speaks to a constellation of streaming services and connecting in countless ways (features, music, people, etc.). It also recalls the major and minor scales (Ursa Major and Ursa Minor), and evokes an otherworldly music streaming platform.

Catchword Branding Reviews

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Eric Seifert

What's In a Name?

Rating Breakdown

  • Quality
  • Schedule & Timing
  • Communication
  • Overall Rating

Project Detail

$10001 to $50000

Review Summary

I’m the founder and President of Good Hope Advisors, a specialized M&A firm providing prospecting, consulting, and process management support throughout the M&A lifecycle. My team and I engaged Catchword to assist with brand positioning and to help us identify a meaningful and compelling brand name for our firm. We decided to work with Catchword because of their stellar reputation in the space, and because we felt their process was more thorough and creative than other agencies we considered. The Catchword team did a fantastic job. Every aspect of the engagement was a success, from the creative name solutions they proposed to the friendly and effective project management. First rate naming agency and we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to any company looking for a new company name or in the process of renaming.

What service was provided as part of the project?

Advertising

What is it about the company that you appreciate the most?

After we initially decided to go with Catchword they had the ability to get the best out of us and then run with it. The result was just what we needed. Our team felt Catchword coupled a "get it done" attitude with a "this can also be a fun process" vibe.

What was it about the company that you didn't like which they should do better?

Nothing comes to mind. We were happy with all aspects.

Resources

How to Launch Your New Company Name
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