The smart way to name your business  

Company names: what separates the best from the rest?

Posted on February 09, 2016 by Vince Bridgman

What separates the best business names from the rest?

There are many ways to go about naming a business, and an almost infinite range of styles and types of business name.

Accepting that there’s more than one way to skin a rabbit, here we explore the common threads that separate the best names from the rest…

The best names are often meaningless

As well as demonstrating creativity and delivering differentiation, business names without meaning tend to be really flexible - allowing a business to change and develop over time. So focus on how a name feels, not what it means. For example, the name Farthingdale has a pleasingly old-school traditional feel, and a slightly hipster vibe. It would make a great name for a financial adviser, a creative consultancy, a coffee shop, or countless other business types. But Farthingdale doesn’t mean anything - and it doesn’t need to.

The best names have a perfect .com domain

People still debate over the importance of a domain, but the truth is clear cut: it’s really, REALLY important. And the .com is still the daddy where ‘top level domains’ are concerns. So if you come up with a great business name idea but can’t secure the .com domain, keep looking. If you don’t have a perfect .com domain, and your business goes on to succeed, you’ll regret it big time. Don’t compromise on the domain; it’s .com or nothing.

The best company names deliver very few search results

This underlines the benefit of owning a perfect, no-compromise .com domain. When you have a shortlist of name ideas, run them through Google / Bing and see what search results you get. Don’t expect no results at all; it’s a huge world out there, and 100% uniqueness is almost impossible to achieve these days. So if there’s another company with the same or similar name, but doing something different to yours, that’s OK. But if there appears to be a name clash with a relevant business, I’m afraid your name search isn’t over.

The best business names are made up

Some of the biggest brands in the world - like Xerox, Accenture, Kodak, and Häagen-Dazs - were invented names. Creating a name from scratch is tough, but the branding benefits of originality are significant. Pretty much every name here at Novanym is invented, so click here to see examples of what we mean by an invented brand name.

The best names obey language rules

Aiming for originality is a good thing, but not at the cost of legibility. So whilst a name like Flrimx might look unique and quirky, how the heck do you say it? And will anyone remember how to spell it? For a brand name to stick in customers’ minds, there has to have a certain logic and comfort in the way the letters work together. Be creative, but keep it real.

The best names are not descriptive

Far too many businesses try to explain what they do in their company name. For example, a personal trainer will be tempted to use ‘fitness’ in their company name. We understand why this is tempting, but it’s an approach that should be avoided. Why? Because a descriptive name paints a business into a corner. Every company will change over time - so the name that accurately described a business on day one can soon go out of date. It’s also worth bearing in mind that common descriptive words make a new business name nearly impossible to find online. And finally, it’s really boring and shows a lack of imagination.

The best names don’t use initials

Over the years there have been many global titans with names based on initials: IBM, DHL, ICI, KLM, etc. But these companies were born in a time where branding as we know it today was less important, and when international competition was low. And it was decades before the internet had even been dreamt of. Today, creating a business name using initials is like throwing an invisibility cloak over the company. In terms of branding, they’re dull, lifeless, lack any engagement, and it’s hard to believe anyone still uses a bunch of initial letters to name their business. But they do. Don’t be one of them.

The best names are emotional

Not emotional as in fluffy or ditzy, but emotional in the sense of having character. Names that contain a dash of personality have the potential to connect with people. This is known as brand engagement. Be aware that, because they’re more focused on emotional triggers that meaning, choosing names like this usually require a bit of bravery.

The best names don’t follow the herd

Every industry and sector has its own conventions for business names. One of the more recent trends in tech industry was to 'take inspiration' from Spotify (or Shopify) and create a name with an -ify suffix. Similarly, the .ly prefix started popping up in the names of web developers and the like. This sort of phenomenon always starts off looking cool …and ends up clichéd and embarrassing. Also, it’s not very helpful when scores of businesses in the same line of work have similar names. It’s good to be aware of any business naming trends in your own industry - and then avoid them like the plague.

The best brand names have a certain je ne sais quoi

When it comes to naming a business, I believe that people use too much logic and not enough instinct. It’s perfectly OK for a name to just feel right, without needing to explain exactly why. So, if you come across an idea for a company name that just seems to sum up the character of the business yet doesn’t make total sense, listen to your heart and go with it.

The bottom line is that the best name for your business is the one that, as well as ticking all the practicality boxes, simply feels right to you.

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