Choosing Your Company’s Name

When you’re starting a business, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is your company name. You want something that’s easy to remember, catchy, and easy to pronounce. But with more companies crowding the marketplace, it can seem like every good name has already been taken. How can you possibly find one that will resonate with your clients, be available as a URL, and help brand your business?

Start by Brainstorming

Gather a few key employees and sit down to determine what you want to portray about your business. Make a list of words that describe your brand (or what you want it to be). Consider what types of names would help cement this as your brand. Do you want a name that is…

  • Serious
  • Professional
  • Whimsical
  • Made up
  • Foreign
  • Exotic
  • Reliable

Where to Find Ideas

You can go with real words, of course, though they tend to be overused. You can make up words, combine two words into one, or pull inspiration from a map, nature, other languages, or even child’s play.

Browse the dictionary or thesaurus. Pay attention to signs in your area. You’d be surprised where inspiration might strike.

Consider what a given name might portray. Would using your last name enhance the brand or make it seem stuffy? Your last name might work for a consulting firm, but may be less appropriate for a software company. Look at others in your industry and see how their names evoke certain responses about their brands.

What to Avoid

Unless you have a hip kids’ boutique, avoid cutesy, trendy names. Guy Kawasaki suggests using a word that starts with a letter early in the alphabet to avoid being at the bottom of a list at a trade show or other directory.

Don’t name your company something people will have trouble pronouncing or spelling. Keep it simple. And avoid names that others use regularly, like AAA Such and Such. You want to stand out and not be confused with other businesses.

Testing it Out

Once you have a few name possibilities, see how your employees, friends, and family like them. Listen to their input and be willing to change the name if it’s not doing what you want (piquing people’s curiosity).

Check the availability of your name as a URL. If you’re very lucky, it will be available, but more than likely you’ll have to get creative. Say you choose Pickles’ Boutique for your children’s clothing shop. If that isn’t available as a website domain, try something like PicklesClothes.com or PicklesKids.com as an alternative.

Photo: quinn.anya on Flickr

About Tom Blue

Tom Blue is the CEO of Lead411. He writes most of the posts on the Lead411 blog, but he is buried with work so much of the time that he doesn't get to write very much. You can find out more about him in the social profiles here... Google+ Linkedin Twitter