Guide for How to Name Your Company


The total number of small businesses in the U.S. increased 29% from 2002 to 2012. That is more than 5.1 million businesses considering 2013 and 2014’s contribution, and they all went through some process ro select a name. Here are a few tips from their experiences to get you started off right when selecting yours.

The Creation

“We had not idea the anxiety, the cost, the time we would invest in coming up with a name.”
– Alex Blumberg, StartUp Podcast, #5 How To Name Your Company

Set aside an appropriate amount of time.
Plan to spend at least a few weeks.
Pro firms can take up to 6 months.

5-10 RULE: Great companies throughout history have had five to ten letters in their name, had at least one hard consonant, and many had a repeating letter. For example: Mattel, Hasbro, Google, Yahoo, CitiBank, Starbucks, Honda, Apple, Exxon, Mobil, Cisco, Verizon.

Consider that your name needs to be easily recognizable in an email subject line and fit in a 140-character tweet.

The Icon Rule: More and more customers are making purchases through mobile devices. Consider how your name would look on a small square mobile app icon.

Avoid common pitfalls:

  • Strings of numbers or initials. (123ABC CO.)
  • Geographic names that limit your market areas. (Poudre Valley Laser)
  • Long or confusing names. (Destroensity Inc.)

Check the international implications: You don’t want to unknowingly name your company something negative or even obscene in another language. For Example: Bae Inc. sounds alright, but it wouldn’t be the best foot forward in Denmark.

Consider enlisting expert help: Firms know how to navigate trademark laws, but they can also be costly.

Lexicon charges up to $80,000 to develop a name, but spending money upfront for expert advice can save you money in the long run. Some of the names Lexicon has produced: Subaru Outback, Toyota Scion, Dasani Water, Embassy Suite Hotel, The Powerbook, The Blackberry Phone, The Intel Pentium.

The Legal Stuff

“This may sound obvious, but a miss here will cost you dearly.”
– Business Insider, “10 Ways to Come Up With a Killer Name For Your Company”

Check for trademark availability on sites like: TESS (Trademark Electronic Search System)

If you are having trouble with trademark, there are somethings you can do:

  • Invent A Name: Also referred to as “coined” names. Example: Sovo or Voke.
  • Add A Letter: Examples: Digg, Thinkk.
  • Drop A Letter: Examples: Flickr, Tumblr, Grindr, Blendr.
  • Add An “Ly” or “lfy”: Examples: Bitly, Optimizely, Swarmly, Postcardly, Buggify, Metafy, Spotify.

Pro Tip: If your name is already being used as a domain, use the word “GO” or “GET” in the domain like getpocket.com

The Jubilation

“Once your decision is made, start building enthusiasm for the new name immediately”
– Entrepreneur.com, “How to Name a Business”

Your name is your first step toward building a strong company identity, and getting the right name can make a difference. For Example: Xerox was originally called The Haloid Company. They became Haloid Xerox Inc. and later stuck with what resonated most; look where they are today.

Create a company email using the name, and make sure the name shows up in your email signatures.

And of course, don’t forget to register your domain name and social media accounts.

Source: How To Name Your Company