What's in a Name? Choosing the Perfect Moniker for Your Business

Your company's name is the most powerful piece of branding at your disposal. It's the first thing potential customers encounter, it's what existing customers associate with your products, and it's probably a word you'll be saying dozens of times each day. Better pick a good one.

There's no perfect formula when it comes to name selection, but this article will look at the naming traits which have helped successful companies stay memorable and relatable to their products.

1. Make it memorable.

The end goal of naming your company is to dream up a word or phrase that will stick in your customers' memory and roll off the tongue every time they need the services you offer. The best examples of this are brand names like Google and Hoover, which have replaced verbs in our everyday speech. 

The end goal of naming your company is to dream up a word or phrase that will stick in your customers' memory and roll off the tongue every time they need the services you offer.

There are many different strategies for creating a memorable name, but one of the most successful is a little out-of-the-box thinking. Try inventing a new word (e.g. Google), combining two words (e.g. Facebook), or even misspelling a word (e.g. Tumblr).

As David Placek, founder of brand-name consultancy Lexicon says: "Some words have characteristics that fire the imagination and generate interest."

2. Keep it short and sweet.

From Twitter to Disney to Dyson - short names have a way of sticking with us. Many successful companies these days have one-word names, and these words often contain only two syllables. While brevity does not automatically make for a memorable name, it doesn't hurt.

The trick with short names is to keep them simple. While a company called "Ooomf" might seem to fit the bill, as Kabir Chibber reported, its unintuitive spelling made the company impossible to find, necessitating a rebrand.

Of course, long names are not necessarily dead in the water, as Häagen-Dazs and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter prove. Sometimes a name that tells a story, carries a strong reputation, or includes a memorable pun will prove just as punchy as a name that's short and sweet.

3. Be brand conscious.

Your business name is a way to build your brand, so it's important that it reflects the attitude of your company. For example, Toys R Us captures the whimsy of a children's toy retailer, whereas you would be understandably hesitant to trust a language institute called Grammar R Us.

Hairy Pop Ins Web 3
A hilarious take on a modern classic can make for a great business name

Professional businesses like accountancy firms, consultancies, and manufacturing companies often see more success when they include their industry in their name - it informs customers upfront what their area of expertise is. On the other hands, niche services and restaurants often take creative rein or partake of a good pun. It's hard to imagine a better pet care company than Hairy Pop-Ins.

4. Don't forget the internet.

Owning your own domain name is critical for success, and some surprisingly great names have emerged from companies trying to secure a website. Flickr, for example, only emerged because the domain name flicker.com was taken and the owner refused to sell.

There's also Search Engine Optimization to consider - including a specific keyword (e.g. easyJet, Land Securities, etc.) in your business name will give you a leg up when you try to rank for that keyword later on. Industrial businesses tend to be especially good at building names for the digital age.

5. Stay adaptable.

Did you know... Google used to be called BackRub? Imagine BackRubbing instead of Googling!

Branding is tricky, so don't be afraid to refine your company's name over time. Some of the most successful companies have rebranded, such as eBay (formerly AuctionWeb), IBM (formerly Computing Tabulating Recording Corporation), and Nintendo (formerly Marafuku Company).

Sometimes you realize that your name no longer reflects the industry you operate in, which demands a rebrand. Apple, Inc - formerly Apple Computers - experienced this when they realized that their emphasis wasn't just on computers, but a wide range of electronics.

Other times, you realize that your first naming attempt was terrible. Imagine if Google had stuck with its original name: BackRub. It's unlikely we'd be "backrubbing" our search queries today.

In Conclusion

There's no one-size-fits-all naming strategy. After you've brainstormed company names and settled on some good ones, leave yourself time to reconsider and imagine new ones. Keep yourself open to rebranding and never stop looking for the name that perfectly captures your business's persona. It's never too late to discover the best name for your company.

Business insurance from Towergate

Whether you’re a large business, SME or sole trader, work from home or have a property empire - Towergate have got an insurance policy for you. For more information, visit our dedicated business insurance page.

About the author

Mike Stephens FCII is a respected senior industry professional and Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) with well over 40 years’ varied experience in the commercial insurance sector as a director, underwriter, and operational improvement manager.