A beginner's guide to finding your unique company name

How to uncover a name that looks and sounds great, is unique, and reflects your brand.

Naming can really set business plans back if you hit a wall with it. Not only is it a creative challenge, but finding a name that hasn’t already been snapped up is not easy. Bear in mind there are those who do naming, and only naming, as a profession. It’s not an easy feat so give yourself a break.

To give you some inspiration, here are a few of the naming types that you could consider:

 

Heritage
Based on a name or place that is important to the business history. Adidas formed by abbreviating both the first and last names of the founder, Adolf (Adi) and Dassler (Das). Andrex takes its name from where it was first produced.
(Levi’s, Adidas, Andrex, M&S, Cadbury, Bourneville, Colgate) 

Descriptive
Does what it says on the tin. This gives a quick and easy understanding of what you do. The down-side is it doesn’t necessarily allow for business growth and expansion, if you branch off into other product or service areas.
(Rayban, Dairy Milk, Oral-B, Kickstarter, PayPal.)

Cultural
You don’t have to stick to your own language or culture. Explore other langauges for some inspiration, or latin terms for example. Nike is actually the “Greek winged goddess of victory”! Acer is the latin word for “sharp, acute, able and facile”. 
(Nike, Hovis, Nivea, Acer.)

Suggestive
Words that are suggestive of the style or personality of the brand, for example ‘Cheetah’ for a delivery company would imply speed is their strength. 
(Puma, Dove, Dulux, Amazon, After Eight, Charmin.)

Fabricated
Words that have been altered in order to be original, or perhaps two words combined. Lego derives from the Danish words “leg godt” meaning “play well”.
(Reebok, Accenture, Kleenex, Coca-Cola, Etsy, Microsoft, Sony, Duracell.) 

Arbitrary
These are seemingly random words. They may have something to do with your heritage, but they don’t appear to have any connection to your business at first glance. Apple was thought to sound “fun, spirited and not intimidating”. eBay was originally Echo Bay because they liked how it sounded. Due to another Echo Bay company existing, they went with eBay. Kodak was created as a random word from an anagram set (although it was also an existing word in other languages.)
(Etsy, Apple, Ebay, Kodak, Xerox, Häagen-Dazs.)

Acronyms, Initials & Abbreviations
The ‘Alfa’ part of Alfa Romeo is an acronym for Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili (“Anonymous Lombard Automobile Factory”). When Nicola Romeo bought ALFA in 1915 it became Alfa Romeo.

Amstrad (Alan Michael Sugar Trading).

ESSO is not only the initials of ‘Standard Oil’, but taken further to the enunciation of those initals.
(AT&T, BBC, DKNY, ESSO, Cisco, Amstrad, Alfa Romeo.) 

Numeric
Sometimes numbers may have some significance to your brand. Googol is the number 1 with 100 zeros, which led to ‘Google’, due to the vast number of results they can produce.
(3M, Chanel No.5, WD40,  

 

When you begin the ideation process for your company name, don’t judge or critique. Get as many names or words as possible into a spreadsheet or written on paper. It can take hundreds of bad ideas to lead to one great one. Let the words come from heritage, the service you offer, perhaps the personality of the company. You may find some words lead to a whole new category of words that you hadn’t considered before.

Only once you have exhausted all your ideas can you begin to analyse and critique. Try to form new words out of the ones you have written down. Consider alternative spellings, acronyms, combining words, latin meanings, metaphors. See how far you can take it!

 

Good luck! And here are a few tips to end this post, on what makes a good name:

  1. Does it feel nice to say?
  2. Does it look good on paper?
  3. Does it look good as a web address, and is it still clear once the spaces have been removed between the words? (e.g. www.everyear.com – ‘Ever Year’ or ‘Every Ear’??)
  4. Does it suit your brand personality? (For example ‘Spika’ perhaps isn’t a great name for a soft, natural hand soap.)
  5. Is it future-proof? Don’t box yourself in with a name that is so specific to your product that you could never stem into another product or service.
  6. Is it suitable and non-offensive in other languages and cultures?
  7. Is there a suitable web domain available? (try looking on www.godaddy.com)
  8. Is it available? (Do a Google search for competitors, check gov.uk for trademarks, and check Companies House for registered companies.)

Best of luck! Remember unleashing your creativity can take some time. If you hit a road block, try going for a walk, taking a shower, or sleeping on it.

Happy naming!