The idea of exactly what your business is is going to usually come 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.
We asked entrepreneurs and business owners how they came up with their business name.
#1- Suggestive and evocative name
In my field—online English language teaching—there are a lot of literal business names out there: Joe’s Internet English School, Learn English Online via Skype, etc. I didn’t want that. I also wanted to avoid the cool but too trendy approach of coining new words, like *Spotify* and *Venmo*. I wanted something suggestive and evocative. I went with *Ginseng* for three main reasons. First, ginseng root is a common remedy in eastern medicine with all kinds of positive connotations that I wanted to call to mind in our target demographic. Second, the -*eng* in *Ginseng* and the *Eng*- in *English* open up a world of possibilities in terms of creative wordplay and typography, like our hashtag, #ginsenglish. Finally—and this was actually a deciding factor—in anticipation of the trend toward short vanity URLs, we were able to acquire the domain ginse.ng cheap. At an entirely web-based business like ours, those concise, branded links are extremely valuable. We use them every day.
Thanks to Rob Sheppard, Ginseng English!
#2- After previous name dispute
It’s super important to deeply research the trademark before you pick the name. Originally our company was named Something Borrowed NY. Even though there was another trademark with Something Borrowed, they had a different business concept that we thought would be different enough. It turns out – it wasn’t and we were not able to use the name. Since our company rents bridal accessories to brides for their wedding day, we thought deeper about other wedding tropes and what would make sense for our concept. We landed on Happily Ever Borrowed, and have been successfully using the name for almost 7 years now! We continually get great feedback on how cute our name is!
Thanks to Brittany Finkle, Happily Ever Borrowed!
#3- Symbolise some fun and what we do
I knew I wanted the word miniatures in the business name–it lets people know exactly what we sell and is good for SEO. I also wanted the name to have a fun, playful vibe and to convey a feeling of intimacy in the sometimes impersonal world of ecommerce. I decided on Little Shop of Miniatures for three main reasons. First, it had the word miniatures in it. Second, it had the word shop, which connoted a feeling that this wasn’t just an impersonal website. And finally, it is a riff on Little Shop of Horrors, giving the name a delightful twist that helps convey the fun, playful vibe of the store.
Thanks to Amanda Austin, Little Shop of Miniatures!
#4- Our main focus
We knew that we wanted our new consulting firm to focused on improving customers top line revenue growth. At the time of its incorporation (2001), I had seen an article published by the University of Chicago showing that 82 % of CEOs had revenue growth as their #1 objective. So it was clear that we were focusing on a topic that had mass attention. In contemplating various names on a plane ride coming back to Chicago from Boston, we landed in a bad rain storm with the pilot’s forecast of the storm becoming much worst and that we were very lucky to have beat the severe storm. And taxing into the gate after a bumpy landing, it hit me! That’s it, let’s call our company Revenue Storm! That became our name with an appropriate tag line: The Businesss Rainmakers(tm). The name and the tagline says it all and is a perfect description of what we do.
Thanks to LaVon Koerner, Revenue Storm!
#5- Mastermind weekend
Every time I’ve come up with a business name, it’s been a process of thinking WAY TOO MUCH about what to name it, then it kind of appearing out of thin air. You Need a Shannon came from a mastermind weekend I participated in, where members of the group would be struggling with something, and (on more than one occasion) another member said, Sounds like you need a Shannon! In general, I think business names should be simple, easy to remember, and give someone an idea of what you do.
Thanks to Shannon Howard, You Need a Shannon!
#6- Domain availability
Make sure to choose a company name has the corresponding domain name available. The .com version of the domain. That eliminates a major potential hurdle down the road. For example, before we launched our appointment reminder app we made sure GoReminders.com was available and snapped it up right away. If you go with a company name that doesn’t have an available domain name you may think, “If we’re successful we’ll be able to afford to buy the domain from the current owner down the road.” At that point it will be too late. There are domain squatters waiting for people like you to start and grow successful businesses just so they can sell you a domain they’ve been sitting on, for a hefty price. At that point the only alternative might be to rebrand to a new company name — avoid that by picking a company name with an available domain name.
Thanks to Jonathan Zacks, GoReminders!
#7- Different from competitors
Choosing a business name was probably harder than choosing a name for my children. I felt like using my own name might be too narcissistic, and it didn’t really tell anyone what services I was offering. All the original names I came up with were either extremely silly or they completely fell flat with boredom. I wanted something catchy, playful and a little edgy because that’s my personality. But a lot of the names I gravitated toward were a little too edgy, and I was worried they’d be off-putting to older clients. I looked at the names of my competitors, then I asked myself “What makes me different?” I’d previously been the lead publicist at a very posh PR firm, and the running joke was that I was incredibly “off brand.” I wasn’t trendy or frilly, but I was good at my job — pitching stories to the media — so they tolerated my lack of fancy. One night I was running a long list of silly business names by my husband, and he playfully said “girl you’re such a basic bitch.” Basic Pitch struck me like lightning, and I knew that had to be it. It was funny enough that my younger clients would get it, but it was safe enough that my older clients wouldn’t balk. And really in PR, the best media coverage starts with the basic pitch.
Thanks to Crystal Henry, Basic Pitch!
#8- Attention grabbing
With a name like Peacock, people usually pay attention. When I launched my social media consultancy in 2010, I knew I wanted to incorporate my name. The Strategic Peacock embodies the scope of my services, while capturing my spirit and pluck. I help my clients ‘Shake Their Tail Feathers’ and challenge them to ‘Show Their True Colors’, because there is value in embracing your authenticity.
Thanks to Marisa Peacock, The Strategic Peacock!
#9- Vision for the company
I came up with the name Excel Global Partners for my corporate consulting firm because of the vision I had for the company. I wanted my company to provide fast-moving, problem-solving solutions at an affordable price to give small and medium businesses a chance to compete with large enterprises and corporations. So I thought up a name that uses three words to define that vision: Excel – I wanted my company to help SMEs excel to the point that they can compete with the big players. Global – I wanted my company to have a global reach. Partners – I didn’t want my company to simply work for its clients, I wanted it to work with its clients.
Thanks to James R. Nowlin, Excel Global Partners!
#10- Following a dream
My grandfather was the second of seven siblings born to immigrant parents from Budapest. He took his first job sweeping floors for a roofing company in 1924 when he was just 12. In 1968, he went on to follow his dream and own his own business, incorporating Kustom US. The name of our business is now an example of the hard work ethic my immigrant grandfather put into this company. It will forever stand as Kustom.
Thanks to Andrew Zavodney, Kustom US!
#11- Energy and passion
For the past 9 years, I worked with IMG/WME working on the Under Armour business and then began working with Venus Williams and her clothing line EleVen until I left to open my own PR business called NRGizedMedia. Why NRGized Media? Because I am the most passionte, driven, dedicated and enthusiastic person you will ever meet. The first thing people say to me is How do you have so much energy? and its because I LOVE what I do. ALWAYS follow that passion.
Thanks to Marlon LeWinter, NRGized Media!
#12- Designers signature
When my partner and I decided to start our design business in 2008, we weren’t sure what to name it. Design is such a metaskill — a mindset and process that can be applied to almost anything. How could we name our business in a way that captures the breadth of what we can do with design? Of course, it also had to be memorable and unique. I had recently finished the book Atlas Shrugged, and there was one line that always stood out to me: “All work is an act of philosophy.” To me, it means that one’s work is an extension of who they are and what they believe. That’s an empowering concept, especially to a young entrepreneur. We started using that phrase as our colophon (a type of signature that designers traditionally put on their work), and from that the name Philosophie emerged.
Thanks to Skot Carruth, Philosophie Group, Inc!
#13- America’s rust belt
My partner and I started Rust Built, Inc. in 2017. She’s in Detroit, and I’m in Buffalo: two cities known for being in America’s Rust Belt. Because we acquire and build products and services, we changed Belt to Built – a simple play on words – to come up with Rust Built.
Thanks to Eric Nagel, Rust Built, Inc!
#14- Name synonymous with my brand
As a new entrepreneur, new to the business world, it was crucial that my business name really covered the breadth & scope of my offerings. As a Professional Organizer, I work with both families and small business owners. I wanted my name to be synonymous with the brand, so it was essential that “ Carrie” was part of it. But Professional Organizer, my profession, my title, simply did not cover the importance of my work to those I help. So that’s where Essential Services came into play. I am Essential to all of my clients, in every aspect of their lives, beyond the tasks – organizing, packing for a move, paperwork organizing, putting systems together but also to everyday functioning, flow, productivity, and happiness in their home & business. It’s been 6yrs now and everyone knows that Carrie’s Services are Essential to their life…at home & in the office.
Thanks to Carrie Kauffman, Carrie’s Essential Services!
#15- Pairing words with different suffixes
It took me almost 90 days to come up with the name Yippitee for my line of kids birthday shirts. I had gotten to the point when I thought I would have to settle for one of the many many other names I liked but didn’t love before inspiration struck. I wanted my name to evoke the same excitement as opening a present so I started by brainstorming words like fun, skip, hooray, etc. The thesaurus was my biggest help as well as an excel file I created where I paired root words (like yippee and hooray) with
different suffixes (such as ly, ling, and ish) to make up new words. Yippee-ty became Yippitee!
Thanks to Peggy Keefe-Lopez, Yippitee!
#16- My location and our reach
To be completely honest, I had quite a hard time coming up with my business name. I had a lot of ideas in my head, but I realized that the name should perfectly describe my company and my love for computers. So, since I live in Phoenix, I named the business after my location, and also since the business is currently going global we named it global IT services, because of the far reach our business has.
Thanks to Ian McClarty, PhoenixNAP!
#17- Simple way
I’d like to say that every time I’ve chosen a business name, the perfect name just effortlessly sprung to mind. Sadly, that hasn’t been the case for me. Sometimes, choosing a business name has taken me days or weeks to get right. So how do I deal with choosing one when inspiration is hard to come by? I start by writing down a bunch of words that represent the core values of the company. Then I use a thesaurus and copy my favorite synonyms into a spreadsheet. Last but not least, I look around at competitors and pick and choose the words, structures, etc that seem to really get it right. When I’ve got that spreadsheet all filled out, I just start experimenting with various combinations, intentional misspellings, and word orders. Eventually, I end up with something that feels like it hits the nail on the head! It’s actually a pretty simple process to get the creative juices flowing.
Thanks to Sam Warren, RankPay!
#18- Last two words of my book
In 1994, as an Internet dating pioneer and technology executive, I came up with the title of a book called, “The Perils of Cyber-Dating: Confessions of a Hopeful Romantic Looking for Love Online,” which was a memoir of my online dating experiences. At the time I was writing my first book, the online dating industry was still in its infancy, and there was a stigma associated with finding love online and in chat rooms, so I put the book on hold, while I continued to coach and collect my stories and those of others. In 2008, when the industry caught up and became hugely popular, I decided to write and publish the book and registered the domain name of perilsofcyberdating.com, matching my book title. In conjunction with that decision, I realized I needed to create a corporation for my growing business as an online dating expert and coach, so I checked to see if the domain name of cyberdatingexpert.com was available, as lucky for me, it was. I used the last two words of the book title for the name of my business, built a website and blog to market the business and brand, and registered and secured the trademark for Cyber-Dating Expert. Today, a search of the term of “online dating expert” usually results with the Cyber-Dating Expert ranking at the top.
Thanks to Julie Spira, Cyber-Dating Expert!
#19-Out of a bad competitor experience
Back then, around 1998, I had a small graphic design firm and I brokered printing for my clients. Here’s the story… I decided to send out postcards to market my services. One printer was offering 5,000 postcards for $425. That was a STEAL back in the day! Everything seemed fine… until I got my proof back from the printer (on a CD from FedEx because the internet wasn’t a thing yet). I was horrified. This company put THEIR phone number on MY postcard. Here I was, the owner of a tiny graphic design firm that also brokered printing, and then this printer put their phone number on my postcard — without my permission — so they could market their services to MY list. Obviously, this was a huge conflict of interest, because now my potential leads would see their phone numbering call them instead. So I called them immediately and demanded they remove their phone number from my postcard. After going back and forth with my customer service rep and then the manager, I finally got their phone number off my postcard without being charged. However: they warned me that next time it would be $50to remove their number! I hung up the phone, and decided right then and there: I’m going to start my OWN postcard company, we’re going to call it PostcardMania, and we won’t put our phone number on our clients’ postcards and then make them pay to take it off! I pulled it right out of thin air, and it stuck. Twenty years and $49 million in annual revenue later, it turned out to be a pretty good idea!
Thanks to Joy Gendusa, PostcardMania!
#20- Acronyms to show tactics
I started my own company only a few months ago. Creating the name was cathartic & exciting! As a Consultant & Strategist in the Financial Services Industry, I have no product to sell. I sell my services, my experience and my knowledge. Many companies strive to create a name that describes what they sell, but for service driven industries – that’s tough. I decided to use an acronym for my company name RIA Oasis. RIA is a common industry acronym, identifying a Registered Investment Advisor. I then began to define my business service model, identifying the value I bring to clients & firms. After much thought and what felt like game show tactics, I came up with the acronym OASIS: Operation And Strategic Implementation Services. Thus – my company was born. My value, skillset and services were explained in detail, but could be simply marketed if needed.
Thanks to Kristen Schmidt, RIA Oasis!
#21- Motto of our brand and domain
The name Shinesty is a combination of the words Shine on (our slogan) and Dynasty. In today’s digital-first business world the availability of a domain name should be the first filter for determining whether a given name is a good choice for your business. We considered alternatives that included more common words but ended up inventing a word because all of our other options would have cost $3k-$10k to acquire the domain name. When coming up with the name we wanted something that was personal to us, and something that had the long /e/ sound in the word because it makes the word more memorable. Shine On was the motto of our brand (we sell weird outlandish fashions for parties and events) and dynasty seemed like a word that was both appropriate for our goals and catchy. And since we made up the word, the domain name was available for $9.
Thanks to Chris White, Shinesty!
#22- What we represent
The word ‘cloak’ implies secrecy, inspiring our concept of a social sphere humming beneath the levels of ordinary life. ‘Petal’ alludes to the Japanese tradition of ‘hanami,’ when family and friends gather under blooming cherry blossoms to savor food, drinks and fellowship. Enter our space and travel underground to décor reminiscent of an abandoned Tokyo subway, a stratum of society all its own, an artist’s dream. Cross the threshold into a mystically transformed Japanese social dining lounge which appears to be an outdoor seating area, similar to a waiting platform. Sit beneath a trellis of draping vines and teardrop lights in the intimate space we’ve thoughtfully created, and feast on authentic Japanese sushi, appetizers, small plates and drinks with family and friends. Travel deeper into secrecy through the passage of gates, and discover our formal dining space and Japanese whiskey and sake bar. Glazed brick and subway tiles, graffiti art and Japanese subway etiquette posters transport you to an underworld reminiscent of a place once forgotten, for an experience you’re sure to remember.
Thanks to Cesar Vallin, Cloak & Petal!
#23- The place it all started
Our business began on the island of Block Island, Rhode Island. The island sits 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island and is a little slice of paradise. The Nature Conservancy called it One of the last 12 great places in the western hemisphere. 40% of the island protected so at its core is a commitment to the environment and a celebration of life spent outdoors. Block Island is where it started for us and we strive to embody its values and that’s why we named our company Block Island Organics.
Thanks to Kelly Hsiao,Block Island Organics!
#24- I didn’t like the initial name
Before my company, Eezy, ever existed, I started with a single website with a silly name: Brusheezy. I almost called it Brushizzle, because I wanted something fun and different that could really stand out. The tag line was Stupid Name. Cool Brushes! Ultimately, I decided on Brusheezy, because I liked the idea of an easy-to-use site for Photoshop resources. I wasn’t in love with the name, but it’s grown on me. Brusheezy took off like a rocket and became the starting point for Eezy as a company. We’re now a business with several brands, and I feel great about Eezy as a brand name choice. Users should feel their experience with us is simple and stress-free. An easy experience for everyone.
Thanks to Shawn Rubel, Vecteezy!
#25- Help in leading to the right direction
I decided to go into business for myself as a direct response copywriter in 1989. Clients contact me because they are not writers and they’re struggling with how to transform their ideas into words that promote their product/service/program. Therefore, they *head in the right direction* by turning to a professional copywriter, like me, who can help them. My goal is help them communicate their marketing message in a way that captivates and converts their prospects into loyal raving fans. The copywriting service I provide helps them head in *The Write Direction* with their marketing message. Hence, that’s the name of my business.
Thanks to Debra Jason, The Write Direction!
#26- Initial thought of being a blogger
I actually bought the domain name with the initial idea of being a blogger. I had come up with ‘Wonder Curl’ through brainstorming, but knew it was a great name when a friend of mine was joking with me and told me that I was a wonder curl. He had no idea that I had just purchased the domain name. After deciding that I didn’t want to be a blogger, I started making my own products for curly hair and used the domain name.
Thanks to Scarlett Rocourt, Wonder Curl!