Best Ways to Come Up with a Catchy and Creative Business Name

As a future-but-not-yet hugely successful startup, you want a business name that grabs the attention of all who hear it and holds on with a tight grip. But choosing a company name is a common obstacle for new entrepreneurs.

In this article, we’ll show you how to come up with the perfect catchy name for your new venture by brainstorming and making sure your name is:

  • Original
  • Future-proof
  • User-friendly
  • Available (in some form)
  • Lovable

Ready? Let’s delve into these qualities and look at tips to get you through the business name creation process.

1. Make it original

A gazillion apps have names like Tinder, Grindr, Flickr, and Tumblr, so accept that your Stark-family-themed Game of Thrones app called Wintr will only get lost in the shuffle.

As a new startup, your name needs to compel people to sit up and take notice rather than look up, look down, and forget you ever existed.

To generate a boatload of options to work with, don’t edit yourself during the brainstorming process — it’s all about a free flow of ideas and imagination.

  • Explore keywords. Twinword has an awesome free keyword tool that can help you find inspiration for your name. If you type a keyword related to your business into its search field, it’ll give you a graph of all of the other words related to it. Fire away!
  • Consult books. Use a hard copy of a dictionary for inspiration, or even one of your favourite novels. Flip through the pages and write down words that resonate with you, even if they’re not directly related to your business.
  • Play it up. Another way to achieve originality is with some deliciously fun wordplay. Have a look at these examples of companies with clever titles and think about what you could come up with for your brand identity. It’s a good idea starter! Examples: Melon Cauli (fruit and vegetable store), Sole Man (shoe repairs), Spoon Me (frozen yogurt brand), and Sensibill (receipt management software).

2. Make it future-proof

Let’s say, for instance, that your company makes women’s shoes, but you think you’ll eventually try to crack the male market. Having a name like Goddess Heels by Fiona wouldn’t be helpful.

One way to future-proof your name — and get out of the singular “this is the product we make or thing we offer” headspace — is to think about your company’s story, values, and key differentiators as you brainstorm.

  • Get reflective. How would you describe your company to others? What are you trying to accomplish? What feelings do you want to evoke in your customers? Do certain adjectives come to mind when you think about your business? What do you do differently? Grab a piece of paper and a pen and start writing it all down.
  • Consider your offering. If you’re a service-based business, having your service offering in the name can be helpful as a suffix (e.g. Scaling Upward Design).
  • Keep it simple. A business name shouldn’t be a mashup of words trying to accomplish too many things — it needs to feel good and evoke positive emotions and associations in you and your future customers.
  • Aim for easy spelling. Simple brand names are easier to spell — a huge plus when relying on online customers to remember your business and look you up or refer you!

3. Make it user-friendly

Many people aren’t great spellers, and as of the time of writing this post, there’s no “Did you mean to write this?” system in place for mistyped URLs in browser windows.

Choosing a name that helps people find you quickly can put you ahead of the game. And remember: if customers can’t find you, they’ll end up finding someone else!

  • Impose creative constraints. As you get deeper into brainstorming, limit yourself to coming up with names with only one word or two syllables — it’ll help you focus on coming up with punchier name ideas. Other constraints to try? Coming up with only alliterative names (hello, Squarespace and PayPal), or only ones that begin with verbs (e.g. Dropbox, Shopify).
  • Test in different mediums. To see how your name ideas look and sound, put them into a logo design, say them out loud in a conversation (or to yourself in the mirror), and draft them in an email signature. Making your ideas feel real will help you determine if they connect!
  • Get feedback. Ask a few trusted friends or family members to weigh in on your name ideas. If you say a name and they immediately look confused or barrage you with questions, you may want to rethink its user-friendliness.
  • Check for language translation. The last thing you want is to name your business something that translates poorly in another language. Do a quick Google search to make sure you aren’t naming your brand after a body part or something crude.

4. Make sure it’s available (in some form)

If not, you can choose from about a hundred options from .net to to .tv — but again, a .com URL can give your business an air of legitimacy and bring in more traffic.

The good news? Being creative will pay dividends because the more original your name, the more likely it is to be available as a web address.

  • Check it. GoDaddy is a go-to tool for checking domain availability and letting you see your .com alternatives. Type your ideas in, hold your breath, and see if the names are taken (we hope not!). If they are, see what businesses or pages are at those addresses and take note. You can also do a trademark search — here are the resources for the U.S., Canada, and the U.K
  • Don’t give up. If the domain is unavailable, you still have options. You can add a word at the start or end of your name — popular ones include “app,” “get,” and “hello.” If you’re a service-based industry, you can try adding your offering in the name.
  • Look at social handles. After checking the domain name, take a look at Namechk to see if the name you want is taken in social handles, particularly on the channels you plan to use to build your business.

5. Make sure you LOVE it

The last thing to remember: Companies rebrand all the time, but doing so costs time and money. Try your best to get the name right on the first attempt to ensure your business is off to a great start.

What makes a good business name?

  • Evokes a feeling: Pottery Barn conveys its rustic curation of furniture through its name alone. Try to create a feeling through the use of imaginative and highly visual words.
  • Sounds good: A good business name has a ring to it. Some names mix constants and vowels like Aritzia while others use rhythm to create a sense of flow like Flora and Fauna. Before finalizing your brand name, say it out loud and use it in conversation and listen to how it rolls off the tongue. Aim for under 5 syllables if you can!
  • Speaks to your audience: A strong company name will resonate with its market. If you own a tech company, you might want to play off of words in your industry. BitBucket, 1Password, and CodeCov are all great examples of this.
  • Memorable: In the world of infinite scrolling, you can have a memorable product or flashy ad, but it won’t help your customer if they can’t remember your brand name when they try to look you up later. What makes a business name memorable? It has rhythm or repetition, it’s a little abstract or quirky, it’s not too long, and of course — it looks good in a logo

5 Types of business names to choose from

1. Acronyms & abbreviations

In 1963, CVS was founded as “Consumer Value Store” and was later abbreviated. When brainstorming, look for some obvious names and words either about you or your product/service and see if they form any interesting acronyms.

2. Real names

Using your name as a business name is a great option for consultants and contractors. But it has its cons as well. Doing this insists that you are the face of your brand at least for the first few years while getting started. It might also limit how you expand your business down the road.

3. Matter of fact

This is a great option for entrepreneurs who aim for simplicity when naming their business. And while they’re not exactly the most exciting or eye-catching, their staying power is undeniable.

4. Compounds

5. Made up word

Making up a word provides you the opportunity to create a fun and out of the box business name that is both memorable and unique. Consider your audience when making up a word as your business name. You want it to sound like something they’d be intrigued by and opt to learn more about.

p.s. Want to know more about building a brand? Check out our brand identity guide!

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