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15 Entrepreneurs Explain How They Came Up With Their Business Name

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The idea of exactly what your business is going to be usually comes first. Secondly, most often, is giving a title to your idea. What exactly is going to be the name of your business? Some people turn to their childhood for inspiration or a beloved family pet. It could be a made up word you dream of one night and feel it has the right ring to it. Even still there are some people who study foreign words for the perfect meaning behind their chosen business. Whatever the inspiration or relation may be, the naming of your business is one of the most important parts of becoming a CEO. Having a brand behind a strong title can make all the difference in the world.

#1 – Modern Warriors

Photo Credit: Jeremy Knauff

Photo Credit: Jeremy Knauff

Spartan Media is a web design and online marketing firm that was named after a historical group of warriors, the Spartans, which you probably remember from the movie 300. This is a reference to the founder and CEO, Jeremy Knauff’s background in an infantry unit as a United States Marine. It’s a company that was founded by, and employs modern warriors—US veterans, to help them to return to civilian life and become productive members of society again. In addition, we contribute to the veterans community both through financial contributions, and pro bono services to various organizations.

Thanks to Jeremy Knauff, Spartan Media

#2 – What We Do

Photo Credit: Alex Haimann

Photo Credit: Alex Haimann

When brainstorming a name for a new venture, zero in on the promise you want to make to your customers. When we started, we had a few requirements for our name. We wanted it to be memorable and easy to spell (even if that meant having a long name). But most importantly, we wanted it to immediately convey our promise to our customers. When customers hear a made up word or a generic business buzzword, they don’t know what to think. So we wanted to stand out by saying exactly what it is that we do in no uncertain terms. It also seemed appropriate to inject a bit of our own personality into the name, and we don’t like to take ourselves too seriously. When people hear our name for the first time, the most common reaction is, wait, is that seriously your name? That’s hilarious.

Thanks to Alex Haimann, Less Annoying CRM

#3 – Out of the Box

Photo Credit: Paul Manwaring

Photo Credit: Paul Manwaring

For me it was a good week of brainstorming and scribbling. I know that I firstly had to find a brand name that was available in the ..com extension. This coupled with trying to find a short, memorable brand made it even harder. My process was as follows: I jotted down what I wanted my name to represent, for this I thought of areas that my business specialise in. So for Outsprung we specialise in helping companies grow. I then researched as many words that related to growth or moving upwards. Thesaurus.com is your best friend here. The idea of breaking out of a box came to mind. Businesses come to us with a problem (usually they are lacking sales or traffic). This problem is them stuck in a box. So the idea is that we help them spring out of the box and onwards to growth. Hopefully that explains the name Outsprung and also explains the logo design. Namemesh.com was a super helpful tool that I used to make finding a .com extension much quicker.

Thanks to Paul Manwaring, Outsprung

#4 – The Culinary Spirit

Photo Credit: Gary Li

Photo Credit: Gary Li

FortheChef.com is an eCommerce store that offers a tremendous array of kitchen and tabletop products for the home and professional chef, baker, or entertainer. At first, we threw around a lot of different names but ultimately settled on one that was simple, succinct, and direct. But why did we choose the word chef? Our belief is that everyone can be a chef, from someone who has never cooked before (what we call Kitchen Newcomers); to the Culinary Artist who is a whiz in his or her home kitchen and DVRs cooking shows on the regular; to the Professional Chef who owns the popular bakery on Main Street. What these people share in common is a need for the right tools to help them achieve their cooking, baking, and entertaining goals. We strive to spark the culinary spirit in everyone and to liven up kitchens and tabletops everywhere.

Thanks to Gary Li, FortheChef.com

#5 – Motley Crue

Photo Credit: Bryan and Jme

Photo Credit: Bryan and Jme

I always had a hobby of making up and noting really good business names. I also noted when they tried to be good and funny, but were terrible. When I started volunteering with some rescues as a foster parent, I couldn’t help but imagine what a rescue would be called if i started one myself. I wanted to have a variety of animals and not let our name limit us as some names out there did, specifying cats or dogs, or pets. I wanted to be able to include livestock, maybe exotics and whatever needed help. I also knew I did not want to name it furry 4 paws or jme’s rescue like every other group out there. To this day I cannot keep them all straight even when I KNOW them and have worked with them. You can only do so many plays on fur, paws and second chances! I also didn’t want the rescue to be MINE- I wanted it to be everyone’s. We, not me. My husband and I are also kind of unusual in our look and our backgrounds. I am an apparel designer and welder; He’s a tattoo artist and video game designer. We have both had crazy hair, we have tattoos and all that jazz. That’s where the rock and roll side comes out- and our love of music. plus the other people we worked with were all sorts of different types as well- a motley group. So, thinking of my favorite band, Motley Crue, and a colorful group of people and animals, I came up with motley zoo! Every time I said this to someone, they’d laugh. I thought, that’s not a bad start! I knew too when writing grants this would be an advantage. If there were 10 grants sitting on a grantee’s desk and they had to decide, I knew the name would be enough to get their attention- when they might otherwise not consider. When it came down to actually starting the group, we had a board of 6 who had to vote. I’d come up with other names, but deep down I was going to be terribly upset if Motley Zoo wasn’t chosen- but it was! And it’d been the best thing ever. Beyond the name and our rock and roll image, we actually name the animals after bands and bring the animals to meet the artists when they come to town. This has received world wide attention and everyone knows we’re the original rock and roll rescue! When it came down to naming the daycare- which is the first of it’s kind (a nonprofit rescue starting such an in depth business as a fundraiser), I knew it had to involve music or rock star in the name. all my brainstorming is done while driving and as usual quite suddenly the name rock star treatment popped into my head. It was a full 5 years before we actually started the daycare from the time I conceived it, but it is really happening now…and again our name and branding a huge success.

Thanks to Jme Thomas, Motley Zoo Animal Rescue

#6 – Bringing Clarity

Photo Credit: Beth Carter

Photo Credit: Beth Carter

Choosing the name for my new marketing agencies was much harder than I anticipated! Marketers are so incredibly creative, and it felt like all of the low-hanging fruit – anything obvious – was already taken. I soon realized I’d have to make up a new name. So I thought long and hard about the why behind why I wanted to start a new company. For nearly 15 years I had been working successfully as a freelance copywriter, but increasingly, I had been frustrated by a total lack of clarity on many of the projects I worked on. All too often, clients couldn’t tell me the goals behind their projects, and little to no measurement was taking place once a project was completed to determine whether we were effective or not. Rather than a clear strategy driving our work, it often felt like clients were just spraying and praying – and I was tired of that. I wanted to create an agency that would be a strategic partner to our clients, and most of all, I wanted to bring clarity to everything we did. That word clarity really stood out for me, and after playing around with it, I came up with Clariant … and my agency, Clariant Creative, was born.

Thanks to Beth Carter, Clariant Creative

#7 – Keywords

Photo Credit: Marissa Russell

Photo Credit: Marissa Russell

Initially I was going to fall into the trap of naming my business after myself for the sake of creating a legacy, ego and other things numerous business owners get caught up with. Then I came to my senses after I read somewhere that unless you are a celebrity, people are much more likely to search for keywords than your name, so it is best to have a company named after your keywords. After sorting through a few generic business names, a light bulb went off for me to name my business The High Achieving Woman. I liked the fact that the name did not give hints as to what industry it was in so it would be a mystery that people could only solve by clicking onto my website.

Thanks to Marissa Russell, The High Achieving Woman

#8 – A Younger Generation

Photo Credit: Jeremy Torgerson

Photo Credit: Jeremy Torgerson

For my current financial practice, I really struggled with naming it when I first left Edward Jones and went independent in 2011. (Now THAT’S an industry known for overusing a founder’s name.) I knew no one would pronounce Torgerson correctly, so I decided to abandon my name for something else. It really was a struggle. And one day, as I was driving past a national battlefield near our city – Palo Alto National Battlefield, I decided that Palo Alto was it, because loosely translated, it can mean the high place or the high ground, and that was the ethical feel I wanted for my practice. It remained Palo Alto Investments until October of last year, when in addition to removing all commissions and becoming a fee-only practice, I decided to improve upon the company name once more, …and make it something that would appeal more to a younger clientele: nVest Advisors. (I love my new company name, because of its simplicity and it’s clarity – you cannot see my business card and NOT know what it is I do.)

 Thanks to Jeremy Torgerson, nVest Advisors, LLC

#9 – Inspiration from Kids

Photo Credit: Katie Dagenais

Photo Credit: Katie Dagenais

I was a PR professional working for a large corporation and making plans to start my own PR company. I knew I wanted to launch my brand with a strong name. I wanted something short and catchy, something that would roll off the tongue and be memorable. But, something professional, something that could withstand the demands of a start up and hopefully life after in the competitive PR small business arena. After brainstorming with various initials and name combinations I just didn’t feel a connection to anything. I started to think about what I wanted my company to stand for – what it’s legacy would be – and I knew that I needed to pick something that years down the road would still have special meaning to me and hopefully to the company as a whole. My daughter is Jocelyn and my son is Luc. I tried out a couple of combinations, saying them out loud. As soon as I said JoLu, I knew that was it. JoLu Communications for Jocelyn and LUc. Even as a startup, my brand is catching on, it is already being abbreviated by clients and has it’s “second mention” – just “JoLu”. It has people talking about where the name came from, and when they find out it’s even more buzz – a PR dream.

Thanks to Katie Dagenais, JoLu Communications

#10 – Quick Brainstorming

Photo Credit: Sarah Bodner

Photo Credit: Sarah Bodner

I was at risk of overthinking the name of my business. So I set a timer for 10 minutes and brainstormed a massive list of possible names. When the timer went off, I took a break and rewarded myself with a glass of wine. I then reviewed my list and selected the name I felt was the best fit for my business ….. Featherstone Group. The name works for me because 1) it is general enough to not lock me into a particular market segment 2) it is connects to my Texas roots as Featherston (without the e) is a family name and 3) it is a metaphor for my services as I help companies become more agile while still grounded in systems & processes.

Thanks to Sarah Bodner, Featherstone Group

#11 – All About Confidence

Photo Credit: Jenny Hargrave

Photo Credit: Jenny Hargrave

InterviewFit was established in response to changes in the recruitment sector. Technology has reduced the need for intermediaries, traditionally provided by recruitment and executive search firms. Whilst companies have made huge savings to their hiring budgets using direct approach methods such as LinkedIn, this “new broom” has had an impact on candidates too and not always a positive one. They are, after all, the other important part in the process. A direct application puts the onus on candidates to guide themselves successfully through the job search and interview process. As a recruiter myself for many years, who had helped candidates prepare CVs, develop job search strategies and improve interview skills, I felt inspired to create InterviewFit. We wanted to choose a name that immediately conveyed what we deliver for clients and send a positive, feel good message. After all, being well prepared for an interview, looking your best and feeling confident provides a vitally important interview advantage! We help clients become interview ready, interview fit.

Thanks to Jenny Hargrave, InterviewFit

#12 – Portuguese Idiom

Photo Credit: Cátia Silva

Photo Credit: Cátia Silva

Bad Bad Maria! (Mau Mau Maria = Bad Bad Mary) is a Portuguese idiom. It is used by all Portuguese, even if no one can explain exactly the source of its meaning. It is used usually to alert the kids when they are being naughty. This expression was chosen by Cátia Silva, the mentor of the project BadBadMaria, because it’s a very Portuguese expression. The women in her life are named Maria” (Mary – A very common name in Portugal) . In fact, the company BadBadMaria is full of surprises, the good ones of course. Cátia gave a new meaning to this phrase and made it sweeter, smiling, positive and surprising!

Thanks to Cátia Silva, Bad Bad Maria

#13 – After a Hero

Photo Credit: Rodger Roeser

Photo Credit: Rodger Roeser

There is no one at our firm named Eisen, but it is named after my hero. When I was a teenager (I’m now in my 40s) I was in a little rock band in Cleveland, Ohio. We had to book our own gigs and promote the band, so we figured out at the ripe old age of 16 that we needed a professional manager. Obviously, no one would take us on, we were teenagers with far bigger dreams than talent, so that responsibility fell to me – booking gigs, promoting the band, managing the money and so forth. It became complicated to be the singer in the band, and also calling the clubs – so I invented my own management group and named it after my hero – Paul Stanley from KISS. His real name is Stan Eisen, so we adopted the last name and became Eisen Management Group. In 2001, when I decided to finally open my own PR Firm, I already owned the LLC and it was easy enough to simply call the firm Eisen Management Group. We later changed it Eisen Marketing Group so we could keep the same initials (EMG), and finally in 2010 we rebranded as The Eisen Agency.

Thanks to Rodger Roeser, The Eisen Agency

#14 – Sea Turtles

We design, manufacture and sell higher end solid wood desks and workspaces that manage technology. Caretta is the scientific name for a Loggerhead sea turtle. When we were developing the first line of products, we had a desk that included a compartment that securely locked up a laptop computer while it was running, and had a cooling unit that would sense and regulate the temperature inside the compartment so the heat would not hurt the electronics. The same way that the turtle was able to survive over the millennia by locking itself in its shell and regulating it’s body temperature, the desk could do the same for your sensitive electronics. Also, we make a green product by using eco-friendly materials, such as FSC Certified wood, and manufacturing processes that reduce waste. In addition, we continue to give back to sea turtle conservation, as with each desk that we sell, there is a contribution made to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Save the Sea Turtle fund.

Thanks to Andy Tracewell, Caretta Workspace

 #15 – The Queen

Photo Credit: Shakeema Bouyer

Photo Credit: Shakeema Bouyer

When choosing a name for my business it was a important for me to choose a name that emphasized how much words and word choice are important to my day to day activities. As a Publicist, it is our word choice in pitches to the media and brands that help our clients stories get noticed for placements and collaborations. I chose The Queen’s English as a play on the English accent used by the royal family and other notables to set themselves apart from those speaking the Kings English – the standard.

Thanks to Shakeema Bouyer, The Queen’s English PR

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