Naming Your Business

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on February 15, 2007

When new ventures start, founders struggle to find an appropriate name for their business. Names are subjective and, as a result, a "right" answer does not necessarily exist. One thing that really helps a team select a good name is to think of naming as a process rather than a single event.

We went through the following seven-step process in naming our business, "PosiPeople."

1. List all of the words or phrases that describe your company and what it does.

2. Combine the words from your list to create "brand" new words.

3. Use literary techniques like alliteration, rhyme, and onomatopoeia to come up with catchy, memorable names.
• These names should have words with meanings that identify your business.
• Avoid using numbers or special characters in the name such as hyphens or periods, as this often confuses people when spelling the name of the company (i.e. do you spell "five" or just use the numeral "5"?)

4. Create a short list of names that are:
• Unique
• Easy to spell, say, and pronounce
• Short (approximately two to four syllables)

5. Make sure that the domain name is available (.com, .org, .net)
• Search ajaxwhois.com to see if the domain name is registered.

6. Ensure that the trademark for the name is available as well.
• Visit www.uspto.gov to do a search.

7. Pick the name that your team likes best, but remember, names are subjective, so it is likely that no one name will please everyone.

Through all of this, understand that though a company’s name helps define its public image, what is most important is still how you build and grow the business. So pick a name that works and move on.

Jonathan Chang
Babson College MBA Candidate, Class of 2007
Founder
PosiPeople
San Francisco

Reader Comments

Brad Suchy

February 19, 2007 2:15 PM

Something I learned the hard way is that when you search for names on sites that sell domain names, there are companies out there who have a way of gathering your search information and buying your domain name before you do, then offering to sell that name to you for extortionist prices. My suggestion is to be prepared to buy that name as soon as you find it. You may buy several before you decide on one, but it will save you a LOT of money in the long run.

David

April 5, 2007 10:24 AM

I just discovered a software that helped me to find a good name for my business. WordMaker has different methods that helps to combine words. Plus it has a built-in database of catchy words. I find it very useful.

Terry

January 18, 2008 1:58 PM

I'm considering selling my domain name/website.

My reseach says to leave it up to the professionals. Is it really that hard?

Any imput would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

Terry

bonnie

February 8, 2008 12:05 PM

Be sure to look at how the name looks in all upper case or lower case letters. Think about how the name will look on your fax line, web address, business cards or other promotional materials. Imagine you are hearing your company's name on TV or the radio; could reasonably literate listeners figure out how to spell the name after hearing it, so they could contact the company? Names that are in another language will be a challenge for listeners who only speak English.
Ask people in your industry about the name: can they pronounce it or "get it"? Ask people who are not in your industry what they think of when they see or hear it. What is obvious to you is not obvious to most others, even in your industry.

Eileen

February 9, 2008 12:28 PM

That's an interesting list, Jonathan. We used a professional company to name ours and they had us go through a very detailed process to develop our identity. I suppose that it depends on your level of confidence in your ability to both strategically name your business and build consensus among the team members. Stokefire did a good job for us, I think.

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