“Not only is a good name catchy and memorable, it should help people understand what your business does. If your name reflects your products or services, you'll have a much better chance of being found [via Google search], so it's important to choose wisely.“
As someone who is currently looking into business names for different projects, I realized that it's hard to find the best method for coming up with good ideas that are catchy, creative, and keyword-rich.
It's also very difficult to find good names that aren't already taken or don't have super expensive domain costs.
After doing a lot of research, thinking about business names I like, and using my own experiences, here are what I believe are some of the best ways to come up with good business names:
Alliterations are when you have the same letter or letters that sound similar to start separate words that are used right after each other.
Here are some great business names out there that have used alliterations:
These make for some easy-to-remember, catchy names while using words that describe their businesses perfectly.
I think it's safe to say that when we hear words that rhyme, they just stick out more and are easier to remember.
Here are a few business names that use rhymes:
- GrubHub – Another food delivery app.
- StubHub – A site for buying tickets to events.
- 7-Eleven – A gas station convenience store.
I don't even use these services and yet, when I think of good business names, these companies usually come to mind.
3. Variation of a common phrase
There are all kinds of common idioms and phrases that we've heard before, like:
- “That was a piece of cake.”
- “Break a leg.”
- “Cut corners.”
You get the idea. I've heard some pretty interesting names come from these that were small businesses. They might be a funnier variation of the common phrase or one that is very similar to it.
Unfortunately, I can't remember a lot of them off the top of my head, but here are a few examples I've seen recently:
- Spoon Me – A frozen yogurt place.
- Wok & Roll – An Asian cuisine restaurant.
- Wichcraft – A sandwich restaurant.
Some of these can be really funny and hard to forget.
4. Multi-meaning words
I couldn't decide whether this was the same thing as #3 on the list or not, but I think there's a bit of a difference. Instead of using popular phrases, just use words with multiple meanings as your business name.
Here are two great examples:
- The Boring Company – Elon Musk's tunnel drilling company for minimizing urban traffic. Notice how boring has multiple meanings.
- LOWERCASE capital – A venture capital firm owned by Chris Sacca. And yes, they write the name with “lowercase” in all caps and “capital” all lowercase.
It's nice to know that some entrepreneurs have a good sense of humor.
5. Separate one word into multiple
I haven't seen a ton of examples like these, but you could separate a word into two words that have different meanings for your business name.
The main example that I remember is:
- Melon Cauli – A fruit and veggie store.
Maybe you'll get some inspiration from that. I thought it was pretty clever.
6. Use part of a bigger word
I don't know that it would classify as an abbreviation, but you can take a portion of a word and make that your name. You want to keep your name as short and sweet as possible so this is a great option.
Here's a pretty well-known example:
- Cisco – A multinational technology conglomerate. Their name is short for “San Francisco,” which is where the company started.
It's worked pretty well for them so far.
7. Combine words or parts of words
This is a more common way of naming businesses because their are so many options and it can be easier to describe what your company is about.
Here are a few examples:
- Pinterest – A social media platform. The name came from the combination of “pinning” and “interesting things”.
- Netflix – A movie/TV show streaming service. “Net” comes from internet, and “flix” is a variation or “flicks” which is another word people used for movies.
- UpWork – A freelance work website. It got it's name by combining “up” and “work” to describe their mission to uplift and improve freelance work.
Sometimes, you may have a difficult time getting a domain you want when there are only a handful of words that properly describe your business. In these instances, you might try the same words or meanings from different languages.
- Lego – A toy brand that makes little blocks for building just about anything. The name came from “leg godt,” which is Danish for “let's play.”
9. Member name(s)
If it's just you that is founding the company, you might name it after yourself, your child, etc. If you have a cofounder or many, you might combine all of your last names or something like that.
- Wendy's – A fast-food restaurant. The founder, Dave Thomas, named it after his daughter, who's nickname was “Wendy.”
- Ferrari – A high-end, Italian car company. The founder's name was Enzo Ferrari.
- Ford – An American, mainstream car company. The founder's name was Henry Ford.
You may even take it a different direction and use part of your name with a word that describes what your company does. An example of this would be Walmart, founded by Sam Walton.
This is another more obvious method, but it's worth including. You can just take the letters of what your company's full name or meaning is and create an abbreviation that's easier to remember.
Here are some famous examples:
- ESPN – A sports TV/media brand. The abbreviation stands for “Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.”
- EA – A video game company. EA stands for “Electronic Arts.”
For some brands, it is appropriate to use the location where you started as the name. Or, you could even use a location to symbolize the name because of a particular characteristic.
Here some different examples:
- Bethesda Softworks – A video game company. The founder lived in a town called, “Bethesda.”
- Adobe – A software company. The founder of the company lived close to the “Adobe Creek.”
- Amazon – A major online retailer and tech company. The name came from the Amazon River because of how vast it was and at that time, website listings were usually alphabetical.
A few more tips
Obviously, there are more ways to come up with names, but many of them are very related to the ones above. You could use symbolism, a single keyword (which would be very expensive), search words in the dictionary, etc.
Here are a few other tips for getting your brand name right:
- If the name you wan is taken or too expensive, try misspelling the word like Tumblr and Foundr Magazine did.
- Ask others what they think between a few choices.
- Make sure your name can't easily be confused with something bad. Amazon was going to originally be called “Cadabra,” but Bezos' lawyer thought he said “Cadaver” over the phone.
- Use DomainCheck and Trademark sites for your country to make sure you won't get in legal trouble for using that name before going forward with it. You may even talk to a lawyer.
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