Over the last 25 years subspecies have become an important unit of bird conservation in Australia. Some have evocative common English names which have allowed the subspecies to be vested with meaning among conservation advocates, evoking feelings of concern, loyalty and affection. This suggests that providing subspecies with stable English names can allow development of a ‘brand’ among those in need of conservation action. Also, since scientific names often change with knowledge of taxonomic relationships among birds, a stable list of standardised English names for all species and subspecies can minimise confusion and ambiguity among the public and in legislation. Here we present the arguments for creating a standardised list of English names for Australian bird subspecies and set out principles for formulating subspecies names, along with a list of the names themselves, with the aim of building the general public’s attachment to subspecies, increasing interest in their conservation and as subjects of research.