My name is May but it is pronounced ‘My’. It’s pronounced this way because I am Norwegian. My surname, Sivertsen, is even trickier to pronounce. Hence my name breaks the first rule of naming a business, namely that it is easy to pronounce!
Naming your business is the most challenging process of branding. Millions of names have already been registered by hundreds of thousands of businesses across the globe so finding, generating, choosing and purchasing the ‘right’ name is difficult. Very difficult. But it is critical.
The sound and feel of your business name should suggest what your business is all about. It should reflect the character of your business. How do you want people to feel when they read or hear this name for the first time?
Your business name needs to be unique and memorable and it should be easy to say. The shorter, the better. You should also make sure that the name doesn’t translate into something inappropriate in a different language.
There’s plenty of ways to go about developing a name for your business.
Here’s 10 ideas and some successful examples.
Use the founder’s name
Hewlett-Packard (David Packard and William Redington Hewlett), Marks & Spencer (Michael Marks and Thomas Spencer), Boots (John Boot) and IKEA are a few examples. Ikea is named after the initials of its founder, Ingvar Kamprad, the farm where he grew up called Elmtaryd and Agunnaryd, the nearby village.
Describe what it does
Create a name that describes what the business does. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer is a perfect example of a descriptive name. Consumers use it to explore the Internet.
Describe what it is
Mark Zuckerberg originally wrote Facebook as a social network for the student community in Harvard where he himself was studying at the time. A face book is a printed or online directory found at American universities consisting of individuals’ photographs and names, helping students get to know each other.
Make up a word
The name Google came about by accident. Whilst trying to think up a good name, something that related to the indexing of an immense amount of data the words “googolplex,” and “googol” were suggested. Both words refer to specific large numbers. When they did a search of the domain name registry to see if Googol.com was still available they made the mistake of searching for the name spelled as “google.com ” instead.
Pick a geographic origin
Jeff Preston Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, picked up a dictionary and scanned word after word until he discovered the word “Amazon”. He liked this name for two reasons. In the past, websites were listed alphabetically, which meant Amazon would always be higher on the page, giving a slight competitive advantage. And secondly, he picked the largest river in the world to communicate Amazon’s vast selection of books.
Add a Prefix or Suffix
You can turn a common word into a product name simply by adding a prefix or suffix to it. An example is Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iMac. BMW 2, 5, 7 series and Audi 2, 3, 4 and 6 series are examples of similar ‘naming systems’.
Flickr and Liquid-Plumr use real words that are misspelled. It’s creative and helps when the name you want is already trademarked or the related domain names are already taken.
Take a word out of context
The name Matrix Electronics didn’t cut it. Apple Computer was named so after Steve Jobs’ visit to a commune he called an ‘apple orchard: “Partly because I like apples a lot and partially because Apple is ahead of Atari in the phone book and I used to work at Atari.” Siri was also named by an Apple employee. Dag Kittalaus, the Norwegian co-creator of the voice-activated assistant had actually planned to name his daughter Siri, which means “beautiful woman who leads you to victory” in Norwegian. Until he had a son.
Use a Verb
You can use a verb as your product name, like Bounce dryer sheets or Apple’s iPod Shuffle. Some examples of brand names that have turned in to generic verbs are Skype, Hoover, Photoshop, Tipp-Ex and Google.
Make an acronym
Richard Saul Wurman created TED to inspire greater communication between emerging industries. “It occurred to me during frequent airplane flights in 1982 that the only interesting conversations I was having were with people in the technology business, the entertainment industry and the design professions.” Two years later, he planned the first TED conference in California and invited leaders of the technology, entertainment, and design (TED) industries to attend.
I hope some of these ideas has inspired you to come up with a name for your business.
The idea behind my business name Trumpet is that if you have a business, you need to let people know about it.
You have to blow your own trumpet;-)
Do you have other ideas for naming a business? If so, I would love to hear from you. (No need to fill in website or email if you do not wish to do so...)