Last updated on February 11th, 2023
What’s in a name? A lot! A name has power. A name has integrity. It’s a blueprint of any character, thing, or even a brand. Next time, don’t dwell on Shakespeare’s quote just like that. And, if you’re trying to find the perfect name for your new business, you’ve come to the right place.
This article contains 15 ways on how to come up with a great business name. So, you don’t need to waste hours wading through a mind-numbing list of gibberish. Take your 10-min read to get your answers.
Picking a great name for your business can be a challenging, and often frustrating experience.
Whether you’re faced with too few or too many options, the process can be overwhelming either way. But, there are ways you can use to help you come up with the perfect moniker for your new business.
Below, we take a look at 15 ways to come up with a business name that will help make the entire process much easier for you.
Why Your Business Name Matters?
Some founders and investors believe the name of the company doesn’t matter, while others believe what you call your company is more important than its function.
No matter if your business is on the web or if it’s a typical brick and mortar store, a good name that works with your business model tends to be more successful.
Having a great business name isn’t a guarantee of success, but it can have a significant impact on your company’s growth, company perception, and the direction it takes.
In other words, your business name can build your company up or tear it down.
It’s all psychological, and the name you choose can create a particular first impression and set expectations of your business in a split second.
For instance, do you want your customers to perceive your business as friendly, trustworthy, strong, or elite?
The name you choose will evoke some emotion in your customers, which can either be positive or negative, as evidenced by the three examples below:
Example #1: Bodega
This company was buried in a controversy that made it abundantly clear how important the name can be after they faced blowback against their name (as well as the product and messaging) with accusations of whitewashing and cultural appropriation.
Example #2: Twitter
One of the major reasons for the company’s success has to do with the name, Twitter, as well as the conventions of the language of “tweets”, “tweeting”, and so on, which turned out to be a huge asset that helped propel the company to its success.
Looking back at how far Twitter has come, the founders must be glad they didn’t call it “Jitter” or “Twitch” as was suggested during the name brainstorming session.
Example #3: Yahoo
This is a company whose success many believe is attributed to the fact that they nailed the name. Yahoo’s value reached $120 billion while its closest competitor InfoSeek (the first search engine, which happened to have a superior product at the time) was sold for a mere $72 million.
The list goes on:
All these companies have one thing in common: a unique name that is memorable and easy to search and is, therefore, a massive asset to the company.
From these examples, it’s evident that your business name matters – a lot.
And that the companies that choose the stronger name will have better odds of overtaking their competitors.
15 Ways To Come Up With A Business Name That Stands Out
There have been countless play books written on ways to come up with a business name that will set you apart from the rest.
Here Are Some Of The Most Effective Ways You Can Use To Help You Settle On The Perfect Name For Your Company
01. Relate It To Your Product
Your company name is often your unique take on your industry, so one of the first considerations to make when naming your company is to relate it to your product. Thinking about what your company is good at, and the things you specialize in could be the core of name ideas.
Great Real-World Examples Of This Are:
- Whole Foods (sells food)
- Vitamin Water
02. Review Other Languages
Using a word that relates to your business from a foreign language can help your business stand out or be viewed as “exotic”.
But, if you go this route, significant research should be conducted to ensure that using the word won’t be offensive to people from the culture where the word originates.
Be sure that you completely understand the meaning and implications behind the word in order to avoid situations like the Bodega controversy.
Examples Of Such Names Include:
- Vasque is a European-sounding brand from US Company Red Wing Shoes.
- Kan-Tong is an Asian-sounding name for sauces made by Masterfoods, an Australian-based company.
- Rykä is a Finnish-looking name, but it’s an American company.
03. Use Acronyms
Many companies use acronyms in place of the full names. This is particularly helpful as acronyms are easier to remember. If a company like IBM went by its full name, International Business Machines, you can see how this might prove problematic for them in the long run.
So, for instance, if your business is named Proctor Marketing Agency, you might consider going by the acronym PMA.
Examples Of Names That Use Acronyms Include:
- BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation)
- AOL (America Online)
- CNN (Cable News Network)
04. Try A Name Generator
A name generator is a tool that helps you find the perfect name for any occasion. When it comes to naming your company, business name generators, in particular, can help you find the perfect name for your new company.
Even if you don’t ultimately go with any of the names provided by the tool, you will find that the options provided give you tons of inspiration and new business ideas to work with during your brainstorming sessions.
Designhill has one of the best business name generators on the market, and a suite of tools that also allows you to create unique logos quickly and easily.
05. Use Your Name or Combine Names
Businesses often use the names of their founder(s) or combine the names of some of the people behind the company or product.
Some even use geographical or historical monikers that speak to either the origin or the historical attribute of the product or company. This is a great way to create identity and memorability for your company.
Here Are Examples Of Companies That Use Founders’ Names or A Combination Of Names:
- Walt Disney
- JP Morgan
- Goldman Sachs
06. Get Inspired by Literature
Literature and mythology can be great resources for generating interesting name ideas. Such a name can make a company seem a little mysterious and it’s definitely a great way to help you stand apart from the competition.
For instance, you might tap into Greek mythology and name your fragrance Aphrodite, after the Greek goddess of beauty (or Athena, after the Greek goddess of war – depending on who you are marketing it to…)
Here Are Some Examples Of Brands With Names Inspired by Literature:
- Nike, one of the most iconic brands, is named after Greek mythology’s goddess of victory.
- Mars also has a mythological name (the Roman god of war)
- Hermes is named after the ancient Greek God of wealth, trade, luck, travel, and a whole host of other things.
07. Brainstorm A Mashup
Creating mashups is yet another great way for you to come up with a great name for your new company. A mashup is simply a fusion or mixture of disparate name elements.
For instance, if you have a couple of words that are meaningful for your business or product, you can combine them in any way, either entirely or in pieces, to create a unique company name. Like, if you had a retail arbitrage company, you may call it ResellRetail, combining the words reselling with retail.
Real-World Examples Of Mashup Names Include:
- Trip Advisor (this one is self-explanatory)
- Netflix (internet and flicks)
- Evernote (from forever and note)
08. Get Inspired by Geography
Places and geographical features could serve as inspiration for a name. Simply scroll through a map to find ideas and inspiration from areas around the globe. Look at everything from countries and cities to landmarks, rivers, and so on.
You’re likely to find a name that truly resonates with you and can help create identity, memorability, and brand recall for your company.
Examples Of Companies That Use Geographic Locations As Names:
- Amazon (multinational e-commerce company)
- New York Life (insurance company)
- Columbia (outerwear company)
09. Make It Cleverly Descriptive
Another effective way for choosing the right name for your company is to make it cleverly descriptive by explaining the business product or model.
It’s important to note that this should be creative, and not excessively literal because it needs to be memorable. If you make it too literal, it could be boring.
If, for example, you have a company that sells handmade products on Etsy, you may call yourself Handmade Creations. Handmade illustrates the creation of the products and creations is broad enough to cover your product line.
When you go this route, make sure you consider trademarks. For instance, with an Etsy shop you might like a name like “Betteretsy Handmade Goods”, but keep in mind that you can’t keep brand names in your name.
Examples Of Companies With Cleverly Descriptive Names:
- Survey Monkey
10. Use Your Values
What your company believes in can make for a very inspirational name. For instance, if your business mission is something eco-friendly, then you could find a way to tie your theme into the name, as in [name] + “eco” or “green”, etc.
Here Are A Few Examples Of Businesses That Use Their Values In Their Names:
- Beyond Meat
- Green Toys
- Wipro EcoEnergy
11. Crack Open The Dictionary
If you still can’t find the name you like, why not do what Twitter did? Crack open a dictionary and simply pick a word from it.
According to dictionary experts, the average adult English speaker uses only 20,000 words and has a passive vocabulary of around 40,000 words. The Oxford dictionary has over 273,000 words!
It’s obvious that there are plenty of opportunities for you to find unique, interesting, and uncommon words to use as your business name.
Here Are Some Examples Of Businesses That Picked Names From The Dictionary:
- Twitter – Twitter’s product perfectly suited the dictionary definition of “chirps from birds”, and “a short burst of inconsequent information”.
- Kukkula winery takes its name from the Finnish Dictionary.
- Reebok is named after the type of antelope (although they did tweak the spelling – more on that below). The sporting goods brand was renamed after they found this name in a South African dictionary.
12. Mess With Word Spelling
A business can take any word they like that is related to their business and tweak the spelling to make it more unique and memorable. Think of brands like Flickr, Netflix, etc.
When going this route, you should keep in mind how easy the new word is to remember or spell. If you overcomplicate it, it could cause memory or searchability issues.
Brand Names With Tweaked Spellings Include:
- Flickr (the brand dropped the “e” to create an eye-catching name)
- Reebok (altered from rhebok)
- Tumblr (this brand also dropped the “e” to create an attention-grabbing name)
13. Create A Word Dump
A word dump is where you simply let your mind go wild for a while and jot down anything and everything that comes to mind during your business name brainstorming session.
To do this successfully, you need to set a specific time, ideally 1 to 2 minutes where you just set your intention and then make a note of every uncensored thought you get.
Write down everything that comes to mind whether it’s to do with feelings, verbs, people, aesthetics, etc. in relation to your business and product.
As an example, the website OneHourProfessor helps people make money blogging by teaching them how to create and grow online businesses. The domain name itself has the terms “One Hour”, indicating a quick time frame, and “Professor” indicating teaching.
This name was created by combining three different words that got the message across clearly.
14. Make A Mood Board
If you’ve tried some or all of the name generation methods outlined above and still can’t come up with a name for your business, then this could be exactly what you need to help you spark ideas.
A mood board is something that’s more visual and designed to appeal to your creative right-brain.
To make a mood board, simply get a stack of old magazines and catalogs. Cut out images, words, and colors, that resonate with you, your business, and your product, and paste them on aboard.
Alternatively, you can use a virtual mood board by creating a Pinterest mood board where you search for fun images, quotes, etc. that best represent your business and pin them on your board.
15. Hold A Focus Group
A focus group is where you come together with other minds to brainstorm ideas. Whether you meet in an office, a coffee shop, or even hold an online meeting, multiple sources of ideas are usually better than one.
A successful focus group needs to have diversity in its participants. So choose people from different genders, ages, career industries, ethnicities, personalities, etc.
When you have different viewpoints, you can bounce around ideas and narrow down your options if you already have some company names in mind. This is an effective way to generate interesting ideas for business names.
If what you’ve read here isn’t helpful enough, you can even go as far as taking a discounted Udemy course to help with the process. While I think that is a bit overkill, those that need a full course on the topic will be thankful I included it.
As you have seen from the points above, your company name sums up everything your business is about, and many factors go into choosing the right name. Follow the tips in this article to help you settle on a winning name that will be the wind to the back of your company.