What’s in a name? Would a rose called by any other name sell just as well? Coming up with a name for your business is just as important as the business idea itself. A name not only identifies you, but it can also serve to set you apart from your competitors and reflect your values. We asked some CEOs, Entrepreneurs, and Business owners about how they named their company and this is what they had to say.
1) An Acronym
The PEOPLE Academy name came from an internationally trademarked acronym based on the word PEOPLE. The acronym stands for Performance, Efficacy, Ownership, Possibilities, Linkage and Evidence. These six words form everything we do whether it is work or life. The PEOPLE Chronicles is the same – these are stories that people are telling that impact their performance, their efficacy, their ownership in their story, what’s possible for them, how they link their stories to their daily lives and the evidence they need to see to know that everything is working. That’s how we can up with the PEOPLE Academy and The PEOPLE Chronicles.
Thanks to Toni Reece, The PEOPLE Academy!
2) The Opposite
I actually had a law firm partner tell me just after opening my business that I named it after the deja vu strip club in a neighboring town. I didn’t. Here is how I named my law business. Vujà Dé is the opposite of déjà vu and means to see life from a new perspective. Prior to opening my law business, I worked in a collegiate trademark licensing firm. I gave a presentation once to the partners as the company was on the brink of making a number of serious changes. My idea was to have them table the “but we’ve always done it this way” for the duration of the presentation — hence vujà dé perspective. Fast forward five years when I was wracking my brain trying to brand and name my law business I woke up at 2am with vujà dé in my brain and immediately knew that was the name! It means to see a situation from a fresh perspective and that was at the core of what I was creating.
Thanks to Tamsen Horton, Vuja de Law!
3) Derivative of our Products
For Vint & York, choosing the name was a derivative of our own products: Vintage inspired eyewear designed in New York. Each piece of eyewear with the Vint & York name is designed in New York and inspired by the 1920s, a time when artistic exploration was celebrated and individuals knew how to carry themselves.
Thanks to Alexandra, Vint & York!
4) I Don’t Know Where to Start
I had started and sold a few businesses, and everyone would always tell me how they would love to start a business. When I asked them why they didn’t, the common answer was ‘I just don’t know where to start.’ I decided to start a business that would help people start and grow their own businesses, and the obvious name (that luckily was available), was ‘The Starters Club.’
Thanks to Erin Smith, The Starters Club!
5) A, B or C
As a direct sales company we knew we were going to be on an alphabetized list and wanted to be on the top of that list. Our intention was to start our business name with an A, B, or C. Our company sells organizing products and products that simplify your life. We share many different uses for one product which is very “clever.” Hence the name Clever Container was born!
Thanks to Karen Eschebach, Clever Container!
6) Custom Application
We started with a list of keywords (including “transparency” and “product information” from our mission statement). Then we actually built a custom application that pulled hundreds of related words from Google’s n-gram database. Once the program generated 2-word names, it checked them for domain availability. We fell in love with the name “OpenLabel” as soon as we saw it, and ended up sticking with that, despite that we could not get the domain.
Thanks to Scott Kennedy, OpenLabel!
7) Strategic Process
Coming up with Ardour as our business name was a strategic process. We wanted our name to express the reason why we started our online boutique. We also wanted it to be a symbol of inspiration for our customers. Once we established what our brand would represent we started brainstorming words that delivered the message. Ardour is defined as enthusiasm, passion, intense devotion, all of which fuel our fire to do what we love everyday.
Thanks to Suzie Chudzik, Ardour!
8) Creative Spelling
It’s not easy coming up with an interesting company name that is unique, will express the feel you desire, and will also be memorable. We are a company founded by women for women. Our clients are reconnecting to themselves and life. We wanted our name to imply movement, forward certainly, but other directions or ways to move, as well. During our brainstorming we kept coming back to dancing, stepping, moving. During this process we were actually having fun one day with putting names of our siblings (there are six of us) together. Through this idea we tried fusing our first names. We are Stephanie and Danette. Sisters and founders of DanStep. The name also gave us the tagline for how we move women through the process of Deciding on a goal and taking Action to achieve it, which then allows them to take their Next STEP.
Thanks to Danette Marie, DanStep!
9) Helpful Yet Authoritative
When I started my business, it was focused on editing and proofreading, so I wanted to call it The Grammar Nazi, in homage to Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. Alas, when I shared the thought with my Jewish friends, they vetoed it, stating there would be a shelf life on the pop-culture reference. My husband, a nurse, suggested The Grammar Doctors since doctors are helpful yet authoritative. It stuck — and I was able to create medical-themed promotions around it!
Thanks to Amanda Collins, The Grammar Doctors!
10) Play with Metaphors
In the early days of The Book Midwife, I used to explain how we got the book out of people and into reality. I tried ‘book coach’ but coaching was not so well understood in 2002. I found myself saying “Everyone has a book inside them. But sometimes they need a little help getting it out”. It usually led to a few questions, but one time I added “like a midwife!” and the person I was talking to really got it. He liked the metaphor so much, he signed up to get his book done, saying it was the only time he would have a midwife. He also helped me trademark the brand, which you always want to do when you hit on a good one!
Thanks to Mindy Gibbins-Klein, The Book Midwife!
11) Blank Sheet with 2 Columns
I’ve named several companies over the years and I always use the same process to develop a name that incorporates several ideas while still being short and sweet. For my design firm Pixelkeet, I wanted a name that was cute, quirky, and incorporated tech—something a girly nerd like me could relate to. So I got a blank sheet of paper and divided it into two columns. In the first column I made a list of words that were related to technology. Then in the second column I listed things that are cute or fun. When listing words, I write down everything I think of, even when they seem dumb or sound strange. I include everything because I don’t want to break my flow of coming up with words and because even if I don’t like a word in its entirety, I might use pieces of it to make a new word. Once I think I have enough words to work with, I start breaking them up and putting them back together in new ways. In the case of Pixelkeet, my cute/fun column included the word “parakeet” and my tech column included the word “pixel”. After trying a variety of combinations with the word “parakeet” (I really wanted to work parakeets into my company name) I came up with Pixelkeet and knew instantly that it was the right name for my company.
Thanks to Jessica Greenwalt, Pixelkeet!
12) Pretty & Well
I came up for my business name “Pretty Wellness” because I used to choose healthy habits in an effort to look “Pretty”, but now I make these changes in order to be “well.” My website and social media channels are about making small steps toward health, happiness and being beautiful organically. I gather tips and tales about healthy living including clean eating, active living and non-toxic living. I’m a 2x cancer survivor that embraces life and focuses on all the modalities to lie and thrive in life.
Thanks to Caryn Sullivan, Pretty Wellness!
13) Getting Creative
Our business is children’s decor and interiors related so we originally had our heart set on ‘Little Spaces’. However as the dot com was not available we had to get extra creative. As soon as ‘Lil’ came out of my mouth as a substitute for ‘Little’ we knew that was it and to our delight it was available. It is 100% in line with our original thought and to be honest we love it even more as ‘Lil’ adds the extra cuteness factor which is totally appropriate for our line of work
Thanks to Shah Bahpyu, Lil Spaces!
14) Award for Leadership
I named it Bronze Star Fitness because I was in the Army and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for leading troops in Afghanistan. Our specialization is boot camp classes so I wanted it to have something to do with the military. My college, Wellesley college, has an alumna Facebook group that i crowd sourced for which logo to use. It was great having everyone’s opinion.
Thanks to Courtney Wilson, Bronze Star Fitness!
15) Define What I Do
Since I am a botanical perfumer I choose the word “illuminated” to define what I do because of the reference to bringing to light how fragrances use to be made and 15th century illuminated manuscripts. I eventually added Roxana to make the name more authentic.
Thanks to Roxana Villa, Roxana Illuminated Perfume!
16) Easy Days
As a school teacher, I created a product that helps children have easier days, and so it was just natural to call my product and company Easy Daysies. Easy Daysies started off our kitchen table, launched two days after my third child was born. Easy Daysies is now available in over 1200 retail locations across North America and has won twelve awards, including inciting a bidding war between all five investors on a popular TV entrepreneur show.
Thanks to Elaine Tan Comeau, Easy Daysies Ltd.!
17) Descriptive Yet Creative
We manufacture an antimicrobial foot protective tape you wear wherever you’re barefoot or with sockless footwear. My business partner and I struggled for a long time trying to come up with a descriptive yet creative name. Finally, my partner came up with the name, Skindels, because our product is basically a skin-sandal. We knew that anyone who saw the name would immediately have a general idea of what our product is. This name also was creative and unique enough to differentiate us from similar products or companies.
Thanks to Blake Ishmael, Skindels!
18) Chinese Foundation
I was starting a cash back, coupon and product comparison company. I wanted the logo to represent what we did and when somebody looked at the logo they would have an idea of what we did. I also wanted a symbol, feeling of making money that was somewhat universal and known and especially known in China, since China was a huge market I wanted to enter. So I came up with the name of CashBackCat.com and my logo represents the Asian Fortune Cat or maneki-neko (Japanese Fortune Cat), the Fortune Cat has been adopted in China and all of Asia. It is usually at the front door or near the cash register of Asian businesses. The Fortune Cat has a right arm the waves or beckons a customer to come in and shop or spend money. Without directly marketing to the Chinese market and only marketing in the United States, about half of my members are Chinese, which is proof my logo and name work.
Thanks to John Freeland, CashBackCat.com!
My husband and I spent almost a week in deciding for a company name. We came up with a list of almost 50 plus something names that we thought would sound good or would rank high up in the search engines for our business category which is website design and development. I met my husband two years ago online through a dating site. I am from Philippines and he is a dad of two from Latvia and here we are, married in UK. Anyway, we both have a strong inclination towards computer and we both love doing online tasks especially building creative websites. I am a nurse by profession but in my heart I always wanted to study computers. Luckily, I met a guy with the same passion as I have and that is how Magin Web Design came true. My husband used to have his own company which he called skAivars and having been married to me, we had to find something that will bind us together in business. We tried to combine our names Gette-var Ai-geo, Geo-var and every other possible variation but nothing really sound right. So finally we decided to use my husband’s surname which is now my surname of course. My maiden name was Lee and we all know that there are far too strong brands out there with my name so yeah, we choose my husband’s surname. Our business is called Magin which is my husband’s surname. We all know that a short, memorable name is one of the strongest characteristics a business name should have 🙂 We are still trying to compete with other people with that surname out there but when it comes to website design and development, we are getting there.
Thanks to Aivar Magin, Magin Webdesign!
20) Simple Contraction
The Vegg creates the only vegan (cholesterol-free/ fat-free) egg replacement products that actually tastes like egg. The name sprang from a simple contraction of “vegan” and “egg”…” The Vegg.”
Thanks to Rocky Shepheard, The Vegg!
21) Fluid Documents
Documents are normally very monolithic, fixed objects. Their pages are immutable and indivisibly; they come to you as a finished, solid, static product. I wanted to change that and make it possible to rearrange content, connect ideas, pull pieces apart, squish sections together. Basically, I wanted to make documents fluid, allowing the content to be rearranged and reshaped as the user desired. And I wanted the experience of interacting with content to flow naturally. What has a fluid and flowing feel? Liquid. Hence the name LiquidText for our multitouch document manipulation product.
Thanks to Craig Tashman, LiquidText!
22) My Love & Compatibility
I’ve always loved penguins, and have collected penguin figurines and ornaments since my teens. My fate with penguins was sealed when a friend told me a particular story many years ago. In the wild, he said, hungry penguins will push and gather around a hole in the ice, but being fearful of predators, they will not dive in until the first intrepid (or unfortunate) penguin either jumps, or is pushed, into the water. Then, if no blood rises to the surface, the others will know it’s safe and will themselves enter the water to go fishing. This may or may not be true, but he then told me, “Claire, YOU are always the penguin that either jumps or is pushed into the water! So, after many years of working in marketing and promotions of one sort or another, I was ready to “make the leap” and dive into the icy waters of the entrepreneurial sea … and of course, “penguins” simply had to be included. At first, I liked Fat Penguin as a business name, but at that time I planned to work with mainstream Country artists, and the urban slang “p-h-a-t” was prevalent, creating and imaging challenge for Fat Penguin. So, my attorney and I simply sat at her computer and plugged in possibilities until we found a fun combination. When we hit on ‘laughing,’ it seemed wonderfully compatible with my own nature … and Laughing Penguin Publicity & Consulting took flight. In 2015, we’re celebrating a decade in business, and still, some folks may forget my name, but I’m delighted to report that with a memorable business name, they always remember to refer “the penguin girl!”
Thanks to Claire Ratliff, Laughing Penguin Publicity!