How To Name Your New Company

If you are picking a company name the old fashion way you are in trouble. You know what I am talking about — brainstorm names how customers can quickly figure out what you do. Oh yeah, and you better pick a name that starts with an “A” in it so you can get first spot in any list of competitors. Not. That old school approach to choosing a company name does not work anymore. Here’s the new way:

1. Third Grade Vocabulary

How To Choose Your Company Name: The first consideration about your company name must be the ease of finding it on the web. Even if you have the coolest company name in the world, if it is hard to spell, people won’t find you on the web or will give up trying. And if they can’t find you on the web, you are losing money. That’s NOT the way to get ahead in business.

The Right Way: Pick short, simple, and easy-to-spell names. Now, I know what you are thinking, “all the short domain names are all already taken.” But alas, they are not. Try an adjective and a noun combination and you open infinite possibilities. Like Red Hat or Blue Cross or… you get the idea.

2. Unexpectedly Visual

How To Choose Your Company Name: When you hear Monster, you think — wait for it — job searches. And what picture comes to mind? A cute monster, right? That is the power of being unexpectedly visual — you tie a common picture in with an unexpected association, and people remember. How about Proctor & Gamble? What picture comes to mind? Nothing really. Maybe a couple of old guys that smell funky, but that’s about it.

The Right Way: Pick a company name that can invoke a picture in your customer’s mind. Then make sure the connection is not obvious, but with a story that makes sense. Once they make the connection, the picture will stay with them for life and you will never be forgotten.

3. Think Globally

How To Choose Your Company Name: When American car manufacturer Chevy introduced the Nova, US consumers bought it in droves. But when the same car was introduced to Spanish speaking countries in South America, the car didn’t sell at all. Once Chevy realized “no va” in Spanish means, “it won’t go”, they quickly renamed the car to Caribe and, sure enough, sales took off.

The Right Way: Realize that the moment you open your doors for business, you are in an international market. Spend a little time researching how your company name will play out in different languages before you commit.

4. Taken

How To Choose Your Company Name: So you pass the first three qualifiers and you love your name. It sounds so great, you are amazed that no one else has thought of it. Think again. Just because you can’t find the name out there on the web, doesn’t mean someone else hasn’t already grabbed it.

The Right Way: A simple trademark search will identify if the name is already legally owned by someone else. And that is way better than the alternative method of finding out – a cease and desist letter. Then check the web to see if the domain is available (most common names are swallowed up already, so you may need to buy it from someone or find an alternative.)

5. Make It A Verb

How To Choose Your Company Name: There is a good chance you found my blog post by “googling” or “tweeting.” They are two examples of businesses that have made their company name into verbs. There is no sweeter music to an entrepreneur’s ears than having your company name become the activity itself.

The Right Way: If your company name ends in a noun (e.g. Toilet Paper Entrepreneur) it becomes much more difficult to become a verb, but it is still possible – especially through acronyms. For example, many readers of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur are “TPEing” their way to riches, and readers of The Pumpkin Plan are Pumpkin Planning their business.


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