The decision to start a business can be really scary: you don’t know what you’ll really do, how you’ll do it, and you don’t even have a business name.
You know how important it is to present yourself in the best light and make a positive first impression. That’s why choosing your business name is so important.
It’s the way that customers will remember you, how they will find you, how they will match your business with their needs, and even decide if they like you or not.
Choosing your business name can then be quite a difficult task. There are lots of theories out there about the best ways to choose your perfect business name. However, we decided to ask some successful business owners about how they came up with their business name.
With these answers, we’re sure you’ll find the perfect way to create a catchy, lasting name and succeed in your new business.
Chris Abrams, Founder of Abrams Insurance Solutions
Coming up with my business name was fairly easy … I am an insurance agency that helps people across the country save money on life insurance. Starting with my last name (Abrams) and adding “Insurance” to it was easy. To register an insurance business in California, the name must include agency, solutions, etc so I used Solutions. My complete name is Abrams Insurance Solutions.
I then checked URLs for the domain name and abramsinsurancesolutions.com was available so I went with it. After a while, I realized the the URL was too long so I shortened it to abramsinc.com. The ‘inc’ is for incorporated.
Looking back, I wish I had used something more generic that wasn’t tied to my name. If I want to sell the business and/or website in the future, it would be easier if it was a more generic name such as Pinnacle Insurance Solutions. Also, I wish my URL had life insurance or at least insurance in it so it would help with SEO. Plus most people think there should be a ‘h’ in abrams.
Bottom Line: Plan ahead and use a generic URL, preferably including keywords, so it helps with SEO and will be easier to sell in the future.
James Kerr, Chief Geek at SuperGeek
When I started my IT company in 1998, I wanted a name that met three basic requirements:
- It said what we did
- It disarmed potential clients
- It was easy to say/here/remember
‘SuperGeeks’ was perfect. It was techy yet playful. Catchy enough for people to remember. And definitely fun enough to live the brand.
Securing the trade name was not easy. There was someone else who potentially had first use rights so we hired an IP attorney and bought the rights for $10K.
It was a winner. One in 3 prospects would choose us just because of the name. We now license it along with the business model.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, Founder of Falcon Valley Group
The name of my communication consulting firm is “Falcon Valley Group.” Consultants often name their business after themselves, as in “Jones and Associates.”
With a long and difficult last name like Falkenthal, I couldn’t possibly ask people to navigate it as a business name. My surname is German, and the English translation is “Falcon Valley.” Voila – Falcon Valley Group.
It took me 15 minutes to decide on this name. I never wavered. I had a talented graphic artist work with me on branding and a logo which reflected my brand and niche position. It has served me well without a single change for 13 years.
I invested well in professional services to translate my concepts into visual communication and it was worth every dime.
Sonia F. Lakhany, Attorney at Lakhany Law, PC
Our firm specializes in intellectual property law, specifically trademarks.
In advising businesses on how to name their companies, the most important step is clearing the potential name properly. This consists of thorough trademark clearance searches to ensure that the name isn’t already being used and that the entrepreneur is not accidentally infringing on someone else’s name.
This is totally different from purchasing a domain name or forming a company with the Secretary of State. Many of my clients are forced to re-brand and they regret not taking their time to clear the name from the outset.
Sarah Tippett, Editor of Homeschool Base
The naming process started with understanding our project’s goals, mission, and objective. Without a clear vision, we didn’t think we could create a name that would work. Once we identified the essence of what we ‘wanted to be,’ we started brainstorming. Our team jotted down every name we could think of that came to mind. We brainstormed abstract concepts, literal names, etc.
Of course, as everyone knows, almost all generic website names are taken. It was very important to us that we owned the URL for our business name. Therefore, there were hundreds of eliminations.
It took us about a month before we settled upon a name. We kept a ‘top list’ the entire time on a whiteboard and shared Google Docs. We were very harsh and purposefully tried to find reasons to eliminate names.
Jenny Kile, Founder of Kardtects
My main objective for crafting a business name was to come up with a name that not only would uniquely describe what my business is, but also encourage and describe the growing community behind the business which I was creating for.
I feel I achieved this with Kardtects. This name represents Card Architects by combining those two words. Kardtects produces exclusive Building Cards for children to build amazing Card Houses with a new found ease.
Although I find myself still saying, Kardtects: AKA card architects, I feel creating a memorable, short, descriptive, customer inclusive name gives my growing business advantage by standing out. Plus, if the name is unique (made up, for instance, yet staying within accepted perimeters) then to file for Trademark is not a difficult process.
Your business is one of a kind. If possible, your name should be too.
Cassandra Droogan, Founder of PYSIS Overboots
Naming a business is a big undertaking. It ultimately took me MONTHS… and many revisions and false starts, before consulting my trademark lawyer and checking for domain names, etc.
In many ways, I love the brand name I chose. However, I would caution anyone to think twice and weigh the pros and cons of an “invented word” that is essentially the misspelling of an actual word. (ie: PYSIS/Pisces) Some of the best brand names contain this trait: Spanx, Froot Loops, Krispy Kreme, Tumblr… I imagine because they are easier to trademark. And some would argue that they’re more memorable.
But, when you’re first starting out, complications are abound. People may remember the name, but not the unique spelling. And TV and video spots are tough because if your brand name is spoken, but the spelling is not shown on the screen or verbally broken down, no one will actually wind up knowing the correct name of your company.
Chad Knutsen, Co-Founder of Cornucopia Group
I had a bit of a struggle at first coming up with a name that could be equally applicable and appropriate across such a wide spectrum of industries that my company covers. The theme that revealed itself to me was “From Waste, to Abundance”.
Our food waste technologies enable the sustainable conversion of food wastes into valuable commodities. Once I realized this, the name became clear: Cornucopia, a source of nourishment and abundance. Thus, Cornucopia Group was born.
I used a Latin word technically, so it is at least relatively familiar to many languages (at least the romantic ones). I mostly made sure not to select a name that meant something silly in another language. As we open regional subsidiaries, we will give them names that are as familiar to the local population as possible, to respect the local customs and languages.
Eagan Heath, Founder of Get Found Madison
I didn’t have an elaborate process to choose our name, but I devised a list and requested feedback on the options, like many people do.
Exact match domains can actually help with SEO, so I was tempted to include SEO directly in the name (like getfoundmadisonseo.com) so that when people searched for SEO companies in Madison, ours could come up sooner.
Even so, I wanted to leave the name open enough to go into other aspects of online marketing like Google AdWords, Facebook ads and whatever else arrives in the future. Plus, I knew the company would be targeting local business owners who may not have heard of SEO yet, so I wanted to convey the idea of being found in online searches simply without requiring people to know industry jargon.
We receive compliments regularly with people telling us the name captures this nicely and we can wait on our own SEO a little longer.
Cátia Silva, Founder of Bad Bad Maria
The process to select the name was very natural. Bad Bad Maria is a Portuguese idiom (Mau Mau Maria) used by all Portuguese, even if no one can explain exactly the source of its meaning.
It is used usually to alert the kids when they are being naughty. I used this expression a lot when I was a teacher, and when I started the company it was an expression that continued to bang in my head. I’ve shared it with my friends and they said it resonated inside their heads too and it looked like me.
I didn’t think twice, I didn’t make any revisions and I don’t regret it. Since my business is to communicate with Portuguese and English speakers, I have the Portuguese feeling in the English language. Perfect.
Lisa Marie Latino, Executive Producer at Long Shot Productions
One day, while brushing my teeth, the song “Lose Yourself” by Eminem floated inside my head. When he raps “You only get one shot” I stopped dead in my tracks…one shot. That reminded me of another song: “Long Shot” by one of my favorite artists, Kelly Clarkson. I immediately ran into my room and put the song on iTunes.
It was perfect. “Long Shot” is a type of camera shot, it’s got a sports and underdog connotation. It even begins with a L! Thus, Long Shot Productions was born. I have absolutely no regrets on the name, and I get many compliments on its catchy moniker.
My advice to people settling on a name- don’t put pressure on yourself to be “creative” or “catchy”. The name will hit you like a lightening bolt, and you will know it’s the right move!
Darren Green, Founder and CEO of Wooden Blinds Direct
We tried every method you could think of when it came to naming our brand. We brought in consultants and agencies to generate ideas for us; we asked our employees to get involved and make suggestions; we even ran a competition through universities, which didn’t bear fruitful results.
It took the best part of six months to decide upon our current name. The main problem was that we were over-complicating matters by trying to find something that was absolutely unique. Finally, we sat down around the boardroom table and asked ourselves some very simple but essential questions: ‘Who are we?’ ‘What are we?’ ‘What do we do?’ The answers were simple: we manufacture and dispatch quality wooden blinds, direct from us to our customers, with no middle man. From that, Wooden Blinds Direct was coined, and we have never looked back.
A perk of this name is that it is fantastic for SEO purposes, which is very important to us as an e-commerce business. We currently sit at the top of Google’s first page for our key search term, and generate over £15m a year.
Sherree Murray, Founder of Remarkable Spaces
I wanted the name to be personal to me. Somehow it needed to reflect who I am or share a personal story. So I reflected on when I was a teenager I babysat two young kids who couldn’t pronounce my name for the longest time but they could easily call me “Ree Ree.” I found it endearing and I grew fond of the nickname.
Then I married my husband Mark Murray in 2004. Knowing that “Ree Ree” and “Mark” were a part of who I am, the word “remarkable” flashed through my mind. It was as if I was combining both my husband and I into one word.
In 2013 I finally set off to create a side business that has become my full-time business. Knowing my passion for design and organization, I wanted to serve people through interior design, home staging and organizing for any space in the home or office.
. “Spaces” felt broad enough that it could apply to literally any space inside or outside a home such as a bedroom, closet, garage, patio, office, etc. So with that, the name was born, Remarkable Spaces.
Samson Adepoju, Founder & CEO of SalonYourWay
To craft our business name, we consulted with brand marketers in our circle to help visualize what we where trying to convey with the name. We wanted the name of the company to fully reflect what we do. We then took those ideas and further distilled them.
This took weeks. The next step was to take that final idea and create word diagrams. We wrote down every single word that we could think of that was related to the business of hair care. And then another with words relating to what people like about salons and more importantly, their frustrations. We then drew lines to connect the words that were related which allowed us to eliminate those that didn’t really work.
Using those connected words to form combinations, we came up with many names that could have worked. But one thing to keep in mind is that the URL has to be available. So you may come up with a great name that you find out later already exists. Or someone else owns the URL and isn’t using it.
We ended up with SalonYourWay because SalonYourWay was created as a vibrant, current way to deliver beauty services to the black woman of today.
Paige Arnof-Fenn, Founder & CEO of Mavens & Moguls
The name came to me when I referred to the women in the group as marketing mavens and the guys as marketing moguls, so for short I said mavens & moguls in all my early e-mails to the group and as we were forming, it stuck.
We tested it with others over an e-mail concept test and it was the clear winner. The URL was not taken so I scooped it up right away. It only took a few days to make the decision and send out the e-mail to confirm it. I get compliments on it all the time, it is a conversation starter.
We do a lot of naming work for our clients too and the first step is to create the committee or team in charge, identify who else should be involved in the process and then set the criteria. Here are some examples of possible criteria:
- has versatility (works in multiple ways from course name to concept to book)
- is “sexy” (catches fire/engaging)
- can be sustainable over time (longevity)
- looks good
- sounds good when spoken
- contains a playful element
- beginning of alphabet if possible
- URL available
Steve Benson, Founder and CEO of Badger Maps
The reason that we picked Badger Maps as our company name is because I like things that are memorable, and I think that common nouns, such as animals are really memorable.
I went to the University of Wisconsin, where the mascot is a Badger, so that was a perfect animal for us. But we just as easily could have been Rabbit Mapping or Beaver Mapping. I don’t have any regrets about this strategy, because I think that animals make natural mascots, and give the brand a lot of personality.
Michael Zimmerlich, President of 80/20 Records
My partner and I at the time were running an internet radio station website when we thought of the idea of starting an independent record label.. However I wanted to create something different than what was traditionally done.
So I proposed to offer 80% royalties to the artists we signed, where traditionally record labels take the majority share of sales. At first my partner thought I was crazy, but after he thought about it he said he loved it. The next step was coming up with a name. After bouncing at least a dozen ideas that neither of us felt was the right fit my partner exclaimed: “Why don’t we just call it 80/20 Records?”
Immediately the light bulb sparked in my head, it was perfect. The name literally displayed why we were different and rolled off the tongue nicely. Sometimes the simplest of names ends up being the best one.
Brian Sooy, Founder of Aespire
The idea for the name Aespire was inspired by another company I own, and the mission-driven organizations with which we work. I design typefaces (fonts) and release them through my type foundry, Altered Ego Fonts. The Altered Ego logo Includes the aesc character (æ, pronounced ‘ash’).
At some point I thought it would be interesting to have my marketing agency have a name that also included the AE glyph.The mission-driven organizations with which we work seek to create positive change and serve their communities through education, advocacy, and action.
The idea that we are helping our clients to achieve something greater led us to the word “aspire,” which means to “direct one’s hopes or ambitions toward achieving something of great value,” or to “rise up.”It seemed to be the perfect fit, and of course the next was to ensure that the domain name was available. Although it was not, I put a reserve on the name, and on Thanksgiving in 2011, I received notice that aespire.com was now ours.
It was at that point I began to craft the transition strategy from Sooy+Co. to Aespire, which took about 3 years overall.
Eduardo Alarcon, Founder of StartupsAgency
Being in internet age, I always look for names and domain availability at the same time. My process is very simple, first I do a list of names short names related to the product/service that I wanted to create.
I just sit down and brainstorm for 10-15 minutes and I write down whatever comes up, usually 5-10 names. Then out of that list, I reorganize and prioritize by the quality of each name and select the top 3.
I then go online to search for .com domain availability (usually Godaddy or Google domains) and find which ones are available and purchase them. If there are no domains available, I repeat the exercise and use an online thesaurus to help me with new ideas and I also try different variations of my initial list. If again there are no domains to any my names on the list, I just wait a day or two to refresh my mind and start the process again.
I typically try to look for shorter names and domains with .com (still the most valuable domain extension), but sometimes you have to compromise a bit.
Dan Kopp, Owner of LetTheBigDogRun.com
I was excited to start a home business of some type but didn’t give enough thought to exactly what would be best for me. So I took a relatively non-specific path and decided to open a general store-front to sell a little bit of this and a little bit of that. My mentor then pointed out that I’d be in competition with a huge number of retailers who offered general items for sale and also large outlets like Walmart, Wayfair, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Macy’s, etc. After doing an extensive reconsideration, I landed on selling dog products.
So my first business name was and remains eConomic Enterprises …. something very generic that would allow me to move in various directions. The first domain name I secured was eshopnonstop.com, again along the lines of maximum flexibility. I then realize this all needed to be much more narrow in its appeal in order to minimize the competition.
So in selecting large dog merchandise as my new niche, I invented LetTheBigDogRun.com, found it available and purchased it. So I wasted some money and a fair amount of time chasing a general idea before taking the time to determine what really appealed to me and what might appeal to a much more narrow segment of the market.
Jason Parks, President of The Media Captain
We’re a digital marketing agency and I can remember hearing other agency names and constantly being confused by them. They also didn’t stand out to me, so I didn’t remember them.
When I founded The Media Captain, I wanted people to remember the brand name. I also wanted to stick with a generic term like “Media” so when we branched out to different divisions, such as social media or SEO, it would still resonate with the customer.
Of course, a captain is viewed as a leader and we view ourselves as leaders on the marketing front.
The $10 purchase from GoDaddy in 2010 for themediacaptain.com ended up being the best investment thus far in my business endeavor!
Jordan Wan, Founder & CEO of CloserIQ
We originally picked Marketir as our name because it was an inexpensive .com address that seemed to fit with our brand. It’s similar to the word “Marketeer” which means a seller of goods and services.
But many people were confused by the name’s pronunciation and close tie with marketing. Our company focuses on hiring sales and account management roles, so the name “Marketir” actually created a lot of confusion.
Choosing a new name was probably the hardest task we tackled in our first year. We used every resource available to generate new ideas, we even did a survey of 40+ sales leaders from the startup community..
Ultimately, we chose CloserIQ because it brings to mind someone who closes deals. IQ is important because sales has become a very technical field. We’re no longer living in an era where salespeople go door-to-door, sales reps need to be intelligent and tech savvy.
Trey Gordner, CEO of Koios
Our original name, Bibliotech, was just a placeholder while we gauged interest—it was never intended to be permanent. When we later rebranded, we challenged every member of the team to do his own research for a week, then bring back his 3 best ideas to the team.
To my surprise, the team took this mandate very seriously, guarding their ideas in secrecy until the next all-hands meeting. At that meeting, we announced every idea and allowed the creators to say a few words about their thought process. To our surprise, our salesperson had meticulously researched the entire Greek pantheon of gods, and discovered Koios: the titan of intellect and search. Our business is fundamentally intellectual—helping readers find the best books at their local library—and so, after a few rounds of voting, Koios found unanimous approval.
At times, we’ve discussed changing the name of the company to make it more easily said and spelled (it’s COY-ose), but ultimately the name has stuck. People mispronounce it sometimes, but that’s part of the appeal. Sometimes, I learn that I’ve been saying a word like “avaricious” totally wrong because I’ve never heard it said, but only seen it in books. Librarians and readers know that experience all too well, and welcome it as a sign of learning.
Jack Barmby, CEO & Founder of Gnatta
As everyone does, we really wanted to choose a name that people remembered. The difficulty as many businesses will tell you is domain availability.
You need a name that you can get the .com and local country code for, and that’s no small feat. We wanted something short, memorable and easy to spell, but to get that for your website, you’re going to have to make up a word.
Gnatta takes two aspects, first of all ‘to natter’ is British slang meaning ‘to talk to each other’, so it seemed fitting given that’s the bread and butter of what we do. The G is a play on words, a gnat being a small, zippy little creature that tied in nicely with the speed and agility of the system. It’s really tough to come up with a good name that has the domain available, but Gnatta is a memorable, true to our British roots memorable name, and that’s why we picked it.
Isaac Hammelburger, Founder of Fusia Foods
Our name took quite a while to come up with. We knew we wanted to focus on healthy foods with zero additives, yet tasted delicious, and we wanted a name that would showcase that.
The name Fusia came out of a brainstorming session where someone brought up the color Fuschia and mentioned the two contrasting colors and we thought that perfectly aligned with our seemingly confilcting values of health and good taste. We ended up choosing “Fusia’ just because the we liked how much easier it was to spell that Fuschia.
Joseph Liu, Founder of ILUMITY & Host of the Career Relaunch Podcast
My first step for my company name ILUMITY was to create a very clear brief that captured the mission, services, and brand personality of my business. I was also very clear about the parameters without being prescriptive. For example, the name had to be fewer than 10 characters, ideally an arbitrary or fanciful name. It couldn’t be a descriptive or suggestive name, to maximize chances of getting trademark protection, which was important to my business. I then ran a crowdsourced contest on crowdSpring to come up with ideas for the name.
It took two weeks from start to finish and I sifted through 400+ names from over 30 creatives in over 20 different countries. After settling on the idea of illumination and ilumity, we went through 2 revisions to pick the ideal spelling.
If I were do do this all again, I might pick a more straightforward name that’s suggestive rather than fanciful so it’s clearer what the business is about. However, there’s sometimes a tradeoff between the versatility of a name and its descriptiveness.
How to decide on your business name
We hope you’ve been inspired and motivated by these stories of how successful businesses came up with their business name. In order to get that, remember that it’s 2017. It’s very important to check domain names first and consider SEO as an integral part of the process.
Beyond that, just remember to get to the spirit of your product or service and be unique. Either that, or be direct so that your potential clients will know who you are and what you do.
Got any other great stories and ideas for coming up with a business name? Let us know in the comments below!