How to name a company

Brand name analysis can help you pick the perfect company name.

Your organization’s name matters.

It determines consumers’ first impressions of your organization. It influences your site’s performance in search engines. It impacts the way investors evaluate your business, and much more.

So how do you pick a name that performs the way you want?  Here are the 4 key steps for how to name a company successfully.

We can help you collect feedback on your options in as little as an hour so you can make an informed decision on time.

Your company name is your identity and reflects your unique brand. It shows how your company will be perceived by customers, competitors, and others in your industry. Your name is a key visual and audible part of your brand identity.

Your business name is the first thing customers see when they encounter your brand. It will be featured prominently in your advertising and marketing materials. Your brand name is what customers will type into search engines to find you online. Remember, your name is your first impression, and you only get one shot at it.

In a few words, your company name says everything about your business and your products. It can even be a deciding factor in a purchasing decision. That being said, your name doesn’t have to be a literal expression of your business. It needs to represent your brand identity and personality in a way that is totally unique.

An exceptional business name sets you apart from the competition. It shows your authority and encourages trust. Finding the right name is crucial to your success. The name you choose should fit with your brand identity, values, and attributes. 

A good company name is synonymous with your products and services. Consider Coca-Cola, Starbucks, and Apple. Their name and branding lead you to associate certain products and levels of customer service immediately. Make sure that your brand name is distinctive, authentic, memorable, enduring, and defensible. 

Along with branding, your name will become synonymous with your product or service. Some names even become synonymous with a certain product. For example, many people use the brand name Kleenex to describe facial tissue.

Your name should grab the attention of potential customers and pique their interest, leading them to want to find out more about your company. You may have already created buyer personas—what are they looking for in your industry? What would make them want to find out more about your brand?

A name that is easy to read and say is key to making it easy to remember and share with others. If your name is too complex, hard to spell or say, or confusing, it won’t pop into your potential customers’ minds when they need what you provide.

Choose a scalable name. It might be tempting to name your business after your initial product line, but leave room for your business to expand into new avenues in the future. For example, you may only sell books now but may expand to gift items in the future, so naming your business Just Books would be very limiting.

Are you ready to figure out how to come up with a company name? Let’s break down the process for finding your ideal brand name.

We’ve laid it out in four easy-to-follow steps:

Here are a few tips and tricks that can help your team brainstorm potential names:

  • Think broadly. What problem does your product solve at a high level? Thinking through its general value propositions is a helpful exercise for identifying good company names and also helps you pick one that’s immune to changes in your product or product portfolio.  
  • Consider blending relevant words. This can be a good way to give people an impression of what you do, without competing for popular trademarks or domains. You often see this play out in the real world: Evernote mixes “forever” and “note”; Netflix puts “internet” and “flicks” together; and Groupon fuses “group” and “coupon.” 
  • Take a global approach. Aligning yourself with a historical or national landmark that symbolizes the value your organization offers can be just as effective as using words that are directly related to your organization. For instance, the tech giant, Amazon, named itself after the rainforest to communicate the scale of its business.  
  • Work in your founder’s name. You can get creative by combining them, shortening them, using their nickname, or adopting a mix of these tactics. Case in point: Adidas’ founder, Adolf Dassler, named the company by merging his nickname, “Adi,” with the first part of his last name, “Das.” 
  • Review your competitor’s names so you know what to avoid. If you have a name that’s similar to a rival, it can confuse your target audience and prove difficult to trademark. You can check to see if a name is already trademarked or overlaps with a rival’s by searching it on the United States Patent and Trademark Office site.

Here are a few tips and tricks that can help your team brainstorm potential names:

  • Think broadly. What problem does your product solve for at a high level? Thinking through its general value propositions is not only a valuable exercise for identifying good company names, but it also helps you pick one that’s immune to changes in your product or product portfolio.  
  • Consider blending relevant words. This can be a good way to give people an impression of what you do, without competing for popular trademarks or domains. You often see this play out in the real world: Evernote mixes “forever” and “note”; Netflix puts “internet” and “flicks” together; and Groupon fuses “group” and “coupon.” 
  • Take a global approach. Aligning yourself with a historical or national landmark that symbolizes the value your organization offers can be just as effective as using words that are directly related to your organization. For instance, the tech giant, Amazon, named itself after the rainforest to communicate the scale of its business.  
  • Work in your founder’s name. You can get creative by combining them, shortening them, using their nickname, or adopting a mix of these tactics. Case in point: Adidas’ founder, Adolf Dassler, named the company by merging his nickname, “Adi,” with the first part of his last name, “Das.” 
  • Review your competitors’ names so you know what to avoid. If you have a name that’s similar to a rival, it can confuse your target audience and prove difficult to trademark. You can check to see if a name is already trademarked or overlaps with a rival’s by searching it on the United States Patent and Trademark Office site

The next step on how to name a company involves testing your options on your target audience. Their feedback will help determine the ones with potential for being good company names, as well as provide ideas on improving them. 

We’ll briefly cover each step of testing your names. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive breakdown on any part, check out this resource.

You’ll have two options to choose between: a monadic survey design—when you ask for feedback on a single name—and a sequential monadic survey design—when you ask for feedback on at least 2 names. 

Each of these designs have their own pros and cons, so take your time to pick on the one that’s best for your situation. This page explores the designs in-depth and can help you decide.

The metrics can include anything from appeal (how enticing the name sounds) to relevance (how well it captures what your audience is looking for). 

Once you’ve decided on the metrics to use, you can convert them into Likert scale questions—a question format that allows you to get a nuanced understanding of respondents’ opinions or attitudes on a topic. 

For instance, if your metric is relevance, your question can look like this:

How relevant is the company name to your wants and needs?

  1. Very relevant
  2. Somewhat relevant
  3. Neither relevant nor irrelevant
  4. Somewhat irrelevant
  5. Very irrelevant

Learn more about the different metrics you can measure by reading our guide to concept testing!

You can only pinpoint good company names once the right people have answered your questions. Here are your options for finding them and gathering their input:

Collect responses from a survey panel like SurveyMonkey Audience. Our platform lets you define your audience and gather feedback with a survey. This option is great when you’re looking to reach a big group of people and collect responses in a way that’s easy to organize and interpret.

A bar chart with a microscope in front.

Pro tip: Need help building your survey? Our Name Testing solution can help you get started! Simply edit the questions so they ask about your organization’s name instead of your product’s. 

Run focus groups or conduct individual interviews with people who fit your target audience criteria. Though this option is more expensive and time-consuming, you may be able to gather more in-depth answers and ask more questions.

Open-ended questions are those that ask for feedback in the respondents’ own words, and closed-ended questions are questions with included answer options. If you’ve run a survey, you can use word clouds from open-ended questions to pinpoint common themes for each name. And you can build charts from closed-ended questions to better interpret your quantitative results. Once you’ve analyzed both types of data, you’ll have a clear idea of what the best name is.

Pro tip: Take a closer look at your data by applying filters and compare rules. They allow you to look at particular groups of respondents so you can better understand and address them.

For interviews and focus groups, the process of reviewing your conversations may not be as simple. It will mostly involve looking back at your notes and comparing them with others who also ran interviews or focus groups. Ultimately, the decision will be more opinion-based than quantitatively-driven.

To recap the steps:

Each of the key steps for naming a company.

Before you start printing materials, see if the business name you’ve selected is being used by someone else. Business names are subject to trademark infringement suits, which are costly and time-consuming, so you must research your chosen name carefully before committing to it. 

If your goal is eventually to take your business global, perform a Google search to find out if any companies in other countries have trademarked the name you’ve chosen. Here are a few places to check for an existing business name: 

  • Domain availability: use a tool like Whois Lookup to determine if your desired business name is available for your website. Try to avoid numbers, dashes, or misspellings in your domain name. Keep it simple so people can easily type it in and share it. 
  • Trademark records: conduct a Federal Trademark Name Search to find out if anyone in the US has already trademarked the name you’ve chosen. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) provides a database for international trademark searches.
  • Social media accounts: social media is an essential tool in your marketing plan. The username you choose should include your brand name if at all possible. Claim your desired name if it’s available, so you have it when you’re ready to begin posting. If your name is not available, consider using your tagline or another form of your name, such as your name and industry.

Keep in mind that your username should be the same across all social platforms so that your brand is easy to find on all of them. Search for your desired username on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and any other social channels you’ll be using in your marketing.

Once you have the winning name, you’re ready to make it your own by trademarking it.  

You do this by submitting an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). You’ll then either receive approval or get a letter that explains the issues you’d need to resolve by a certain date. Once approved, it’ll be published in the Official Gazette, which gives others a final chance to make their case against it before it’s officially trademarked.  

Looking for more information on naming your business? We’ve compiled a list of our five most informative tips for you. 

Read through these before you begin brainstorming:

Your potential customers will enter your business name into a search engine to find you online, whether for your website or social media. If they can’t spell your name, they will be turned off and may move to other options. 

As we mentioned earlier in this article, it’s essential for your business name to be scalable. As a startup, you may offer a singular product or service, but as you grow your business, you may have additional offerings. Naming your coffee shop Simply Coffee may seem like a unique and eye-catching idea at first, but when you expand to serve food items or other drinks, it’s not going to work as well for you.

Use wordplay, metaphors, or phrases that represent the meaning of your business. 

For example, Amazon, a company with an expansive range of products, is named after the largest river in the world. And Sofa So Good, a take on the phrase “so far, so good,” is a furniture store in Vancouver.

You don’t want to miss out on word-of-mouth referrals, so try saying your name out loud. Is it easy to pronounce? Show the name to people who haven’t heard you say it. Can they figure it out easily, or do they struggle? Ensure that your chosen name can be easily read and spoken aloud correctly.

Keep your name simple. Long business names are harder to say, type into the computer, and remember. One or two-word names will have the most impact.

Naming your business can be tricky. You’ll have improved success with your naming if you keep these common mistakes in mind: 

While a great name is incredibly important to your overall branding strategy, it can’t fix everything. Your brand name works in conjunction with your logo, graphics, marketing, brand identity, personality, products, and customer experience. Your name is just one piece of the puzzle.

No matter what name you come up with, not everyone will love it. Involve as many people as possible in brainstorming names. That will give you an idea of how yours will ultimately be received, but “liking” is subjective, and every person will have their own opinion. Find a name that the majority will like—because you won’t find one that appeals to everyone.

Another tempting route is to play it safe with your brand name. Avoid overused terms such as pinnacle, peak, summit, quality, tech, or quick. Your business won’t be memorable if its name is forgettable.

Don’t pick a name on your own. You may love it, but others might not feel the same way. Survey your target market with our name testing survey template and find out how potential customers feel about your name choices. Present your short list of names and logo ideas and gather feedback.

When you start your business, you’ll be tempted to think about your local audience, especially if you’re a service-based business. Additionally, it’s tempting to put your location in your business name, but don’t do it. You want to think globally when naming your business.  

Putting your location in the name may work out for you in the early stages, but as your business grows, you’ll lose out on customers who think your service isn’t available to them because of your location-based name. It’s costly and time-consuming to rebrand and change your business name, so go global from the start.

It’s a delicate balance between finding a name that allows your business to grow and choosing one that’s too generic to be memorable. For example, the name Total Home Services could be a realtor, roofer, contractor, handyman, or cleaning service.

Keep in mind that your domain name and URL will not have spaces in them and may leave you with an unintended interpretation or meaning. 

For example, the website Choose Spain uses its name in its URL: choosespain.net. Reading the URL, a person could misinterpret it to read Chooses Pain. Norwegian holiday resort, Osnes Hyttepark used its initials in its URL: oh.no—with the internet country code for Norway being .no, the URL seems to say oh no!

Use our guide, tips, and common pitfalls to help you find the perfect name for your business. Invest your time and thoughtful effort into finding the right name, and success is just around the corner. 

When you’re ready to test your new brand name, check out our Brand Name Analysis market research solution. Your future customers will provide invaluable insights into your naming decisions.

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