Few tasks in business are fraught with as much undo anxiety and emotion as naming your company. Choosing a name that will live on as the business grows seems of utmost importance – not unlike naming a child.  But what starts off as a fun brainstorming activity over a beer devolves into a long list of potential names and a big headache (not only from the beer).    Company naming success is truly a combination of left-brain (logic, process, discipline) and right-brain (creative, artistic, and linguistic) thinking.  After creating names for small companies and huge brands, I share with you a practical approach to conducting this exercise.  Naming is hard work, but is best done by following a simple process. 

The Objective of a Company Name – The objective of choosing a name is the same as the objective of any other business activity, to create value. A strong clear name uniquely identifies your firm’s line of business while projecting personality, interest and professionalism.   Names which are confusing, similar to others in an industry, silly or overly identified with an owner, are poor choices for adding value to a business. 

The Structure of a Company Name  – Good names will follow a patterned structure, have a formal name, descriptor,  and optional slogan.  The formal name is unique and will be remembered.  The descriptor identifies the industry or category of service.  The slogan can help identity the core benefit:

For example – here is a naming architecture for a fictitious outdoor store:

Formal Name:  Bridlewood Tackle

     Descriptor:   Equestrian and Outdoor Supplies  

            Slogan:  Best Selection in Eastern Pennsylvania

Bridlewood Tackle will, over time, come to be known simply as Bridlewood, but the other elements provide identification and credibility.


Practical Approach to Creating Company Name ideas

First, identify important categories for word-brainstorming.  These should be based on your business’s uniqueness and industry.  There are many categories but a good start would be the following:

  1. Location words – town, county, streets, etc. (these are surprisingly effective for company names)
  2. Ownership words – founders name
  3. Aspirational words – vision, what the finished job helps create, beauty, direction, etc
  4. Product or Service words – the product being offered, industry, or service area
  5. Technical terms –  suggesting unique development tools, novel approaches, industry tech terms
  6. Benefit words – price, customer service, reliability, honesty, etc.
  7. Now, have fun filling in the grid with at least 5 ideas per box as follows:  

Words for Company name ideas

The reference to Industry Tendency is a guide only

Synthesize for Company Name Ideas –Once you have the grid filled in, now us the time to be creative. Creativity here is really synthesis.  Take words from the grid and combine and mix words.  Look for combinations that have not been used but will be memorable if tied to your brand or company.  This is fun but can be hard work.   Look for any word fragments, combinations and interesting spellings.  It is very important not to be critical at this point.  If you can pronounce it, write it down. 

Creativity versus Synthesis  – Avoid whimsical or confusing names like Nike, Google,  etc.  While these are unique, small and mid-size companies will need to spend enormous advertising to build a functional and emotional meaning to the name.  As an example, Chester County Wealth Management Group may create a stronger business impact than a name like “Impedium”

Check for Availability of Company Name Ideas – this is the not-so-fun part.  Start with an on-line search of the name ideas to see which are taken in your industry only.  Be prepared to eliminate well over 60 % of words you like due to competitive use in your industry alone. Remember to search various spellings of each word to catch anyone who is using the name.  The more common the word,  phrase or family name, the more likely it is to be taken.  Look for different combinations, different spelling.  Check for the availability of a user friendly URL availability for a website.   Don’t get discouraged at this stage.  You will learn a lot about your competition in this search and it will help you unlock new ideas for names.   Take breaks and come back to this exercise with fresh eyes.  

Evaluation of Company Name Ideas  – Results should be rated against the following:

  1. Easy to pronounce  and spell
  2. Easy to remember
  3. Convey what product or service you provide
  4. Clear of other firms in your market
  5. You personally like the name (don’t hold too much weight to this as you will come to like most names over time)

Once you have selected Please be sure to consult a legal expert for final clearance and registration.  

Logo design and development will be the next to bring the idea to life visually. 

Have a great time!



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4 Responses to Creating Company Name Ideas – A Practical Approach

  1. Jim Matorin says:

    Interesting piece of wisdom. The practical approach that worked for me was I was drinking some wine in the South of France when I decided to go into business for myself back in 1994, a food marketing outsource company, decided to combine the words smart marketing which at the time was open space. Came back to the states, bounced the idea off my mentor who said great don’t forget the T so my company’s name was born: SMARTKETING. Well to your point re: whimisical 18 plus years later, I have lost count of the number of logo changes we have gone through, people miss the T (conference badges) which is a soft T when I pronounce the name of my company. At this point I don’t care because people get it – Smart Marketing.

  2. Manoj Sharma says:

    Good Suggestions

  3. Douglas says:

    Great read. All good business names have certain elements, hope this helps http://oviah.com/blog/2015/10/28/ingredients-of-a-great-company-name/

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