Top 5 ways to name your company

As any entrepreneur starting out knows, the name you apply to your business is a critical part of the startup process. Sure, you could change the name later, but you are probably going to invest in business cards, signs and a website based on the name you come up with for your company so you would prefer to do it right the first time.

Here are the top 5 ways to come up with name for your new company (in no particular order)….

1) Brainstorm associated words based on the vision you have for your company. This is a good exercise because it may also help you clarify your vision at the same time. Once you have a list of words associated with your vision of the company, you can brainstorm words associated with those words. The key is to not filter yourself prematurely… let the words flow because a poor word may lead you to a better word which might lead you to the perfect name for your company.

1a) Word combinations sometimes expand the possible name choices but try to stick to two word combinations at the most. Multiple words start to sound like a sentence and while that may make it easier to find a matching website name (longer names are less likely to be taken), it will sound less like a company and more like a tagline.

2) Naming Software is available that can help you generate name options. These are usually based on a powerful thesaurus and maybe even a search function to see if names have been taken. Examples include NameRazor, NameBuilder and others.

3) URL searches now include alternatives to your selected terms and they can offer ideas for alternative names. Since you will want to own the “dot com” web address for your company (and probably some of the variations on the main site’s name), it is good to do a quick search based on some of the words you came up with in your brainstorming sessions.

4) Umbrella vs. Specific Names sometimes trip up some companies. An umbrella name may sound “grandiose” or give the impression of a larger company than you really are (e.g. Worldwide Plumbing or Global Cleaners) but you should be careful not to confuse your customers, especially if your business will be local. Specific names can also limit you since they tie you into a specific location or product. If you name a shop “Nuts R Us”, it may be difficult to expand into other foods or hardware (depending on what types of nuts you are talking about). In general, I tend to lean toward the larger names as long as they give a good impression of the market you are trying to serve.

5) Focus Groups are another way that you can expand the possible name choices. These can be used to test possible names (if you have time) or they can be done informally to expand the brainstorming process. In any case, be aware that you are probably dealing with a very small subset of your customers or potential customers so there is a real chance that they may not represent the feelings of the majority of your customers. (Especially if your family is part of the group.) Be careful with Focus Groups!

In the end, it is your decision and it is one that you will probably have to live with … or at least pay for.

Nothing says that you can’t change the name of your company or create a new company but the effort that is put into getting a great name from the start makes the whole process of building your business that much more enjoyable.

Create a better world !


Additional Resources: (
This site also includes ideas for what to do once you have a name for your company.

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, 20th Anniversary Edition by Al Ries

Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer

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