The Essentials of a Company Name

The Essentials of a Company Name

The Essentials of a Company Name

Do you think Google™ would be the brand that it is today if it were still named Backrub? What if Facebook™ was still labeled The Facebook?

Old school businesses gurus have told me to choose a name quickly and change it later. Now with all of the different ways to spread your brand, changing your name isn’t an option.

To make sure you pick the right name for your company, use this 21-point checklist. Nine of them are absolutely essential.

What to Name a Company?

The Essentials of a Company Name

Interesting backstory?

One of the most popular questions you’ll get is, “how did you come up with the name?” If you have a cool, personal backstory behind it, this will be a chance pull in that customer with your story. Then they’ll remember it and tell other people. The story of Johnny Cupcakes is a good example.

Business name available?

In high school I tried to start a company named, “Mandles – Masculine Scented Candles.” But the Chia Pet people own the trademark so I couldn’t use it. Do a name availability search with your Secretary of State and a trademark search with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Domain available?

You want the .com because that’s the first thing people search for. If it’s not available, then .net, .org, and .co are acceptable.

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube available?

You should have your Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube usernames. Before I registered 14clicks.com, I didn’t check. So now all of my social media profiles end in 14clicksNick (facebook.com/14clicksNick, Twitter.com/14clicksNick, and YouTube.com/14clicksNick).

Easy to spell?

The easier it is to spell, the easier it’ll be to find you.

Smooth to say?

Whisper your business name. If it sounds good as a whisper, check this one off. Good examples are Google, Apple, and Macy’s.

Keywords?

Your website will rank higher in search engines if you can sneak keywords into your business name and domain. Plus, it’ll tell customers what you do. Don’t be boring though.

Brand infringement?

37signals was going to name their CRM platform “Sunrise” but Sun Microsystems trademarked the word “Sun” for anything related to software. So they renamed it “Highrise.” If it’s questionable, it’s best not to mess with the big guys. However, The South Butt did win their case against The North Face.

Brandable Company Names (B2C)

These factors mostly apply to companies that sell to everyday people. If that’s you, use a brandable business name.

Short?

Can you think of a company with more than ten letters in its name? The first one I thought of was Circuit City. Keep it short, sweetheart.

Memorable?

When you’re selling to consumers, they have to see your brand an average seven times before they’ll buy. This also means that they have to remember it six times before they hear it for the seventh. I’ve found that people remember “clicks” but they don’t always remember the number. What can I do to help you remember “14”?

Generic Company Names (B2B)

If you’re selling to other businesses, they tend to care less about the name of your business. The same applies for professional services like lawn mowing, plumbing, and law offices.

A turn off?

Lots of business-to-business companies don’t use MailChimp strictly because of the name. It’s comparable and, in some ways better than Aweber (aff link) or iContact (aff link). But businesses don’t want their clients to receive an email with a playful “MailChimp” logo in the footer.

Your name?

If you plan on keeping your business modest or closely tying it to your personality, drop your name in there. Good examples are PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and Ben & Jerry’s.

Bonuses of Company Name

Catchy?

Can you make an auto-tuned song out of it? We gon find you. We gon find you.

Metaphor?

One way to convey the benefits of your company is by using a metaphor in your company name. Lawyers do this a lot: “Franklin D. Azar – The Strong Arm” and “Brian ‘Bulldog’ Moore.”

Dual meaning?

Google is perhaps the most famous example. The word, “Google” is a misspelling of the word “googol”, the number one followed by 100 zeros. It signifies the vast amount of information that Google has indexed.

Wordplay?

You get two bonus points if you can pull this one off. Best Buy is the only one I can think of at the moment.

Animal?

Energizer has spent millions (maybe billions) to brand themselves with the iconic Energizer Bunny. People remember animals. And they’re more likely to remember your business if it’s associated with an animal.

Cool branding concepts?

Some company names give graphic designers the perfect opportunity to create a great brand. The hidden message in the Amazon logo is a good example.

Sound?

One of the reasons we settled on 14 Clicks is because Nick Scheidies brought up that “click” is a sound that can be used to brand audio and video files.

Alliteration, onomatopoeia, or an oxymoron?

Remember those literary elements you learned in 10th grade? Well, they’re used as pneumonic devices to help people remember things. So it’s good to have them in your business name.

Nicholas Tart
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