How to Name Your Company

How to Name Your Company

How to name a company from scratch.

Is there a tried and true method to naming a company? A method that will get you measurable results after the brand has launched?

As marketers, we’re used to making informed decisions based on research and statistics. With all the data collection methods, case studies and history we have at our fingertips, you might think that there’s a scientific equation that will bring the perfect name into existence. We regret to inform you that naming a company is more of an art than a science.

However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider some important pieces of advice before getting started.

Compile a List of Potential Names

The brainstorming period is the most important, and arguably most fun, part of the naming process. Here’s where things get creative—and we really like to emphasize creative. Don’t keep yourself boxed in with names that you think are relevant to your product or service. Being creative means taking risks. What does ‘Google’ have to do with internet browsing? What does ‘Zillow’ have to do with apartment hunting? At first glance, not much. But these names do have a meaning—and they are also catchy, short and memorable. They have become part of the extensive fabric of what makes up their branding.

Your name will be one of the first elements of your branding that potential clients encounter. Consider it your first impression. If you already have a clever hole-in-one name picked out, great! You can begin researching it. If not, a simple way to get started is to compile a list of names for each of these three categories:

Descriptive

What it means: A name that directly implies what services or products a company provides.

Examples: Stanley Steemers; The Tile Shop; Smith Family Dental

Evocative

What it means: Singular/one word names that require more thought at first glance. There’s a big potential here for creating a truly meaningful brand that expands beyond the service or product offerings

Examples: Google; Amazon; Nike

Invented

What it means: A name that is created, such as from a mashup of words or root words.

Examples: Asus; Lego; Ikea

Don’t simply compile your list of potential names and choose at random. A lengthy period of trial and error is not only a good idea but an essential part of naming your brand. After all, it will be your company’s identity for years to come.

Trial and Error is Okay (and Encouraged!)

Companies starting out often go through long periods of trial and error before coming to a decision about brand name. Half of the branding battle is conducting the research: Is the name–or a variation–already taken in your industry? Does it give off the impression of your company that you desire–professional, serious, quirky, innovative or knowledge? In order to get your brand down pat, you must know your company’s voice and how it will relate to–and ultimately affect–your brand. 

Time Will Tell

When authors begin writing a story, they rarely come up with the title first. All information such as characters, setting and time period are required to develop and move along the story. Only when all the pieces are woven together does the author have an overview that allows them to make an intelligent decision regarding title. This strategy translates surprisingly well when it comes to branding. As mentioned above, once you know what your brand personality is, the colors, its voice and its purpose, a name will usually lend itself to you.

Your brand is an invaluable asset that can influence your company and make it a strong contender. But remember that it is the quality of your products/services, customer service, marketing messages and more that will reflect on your brand–so make it memorable!

As a last note, remember that brands aren’t forever: Business isn’t stagnant, so neither are brands! From expanded their product or service offerings to acquiring new assets, companies continue to evolve. Sometimes the evolution is too far from the original brand. If so, a re-branding (whether a little or lot) initiative is in order. 

Now let’s get to naming!

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