Storytelling

28 Entrepreneurs Explain How They Came Up With Their Business Names

The idea of exactly what your business 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.

#1- From what I do often

Photo Credit: Jon Stenstrom

I came up with my company name by asking myself, what will I be doing often? Since I started a fishing company, it came down to casting for fish from the shore and spearing them in the water. I naturally put these two activities together to form Cast & Spear. Unfortunately, any time you have a name with an and, things can get tricky. Do you spell it out, use an & or a +, and the list goes on. Branding wise I decided to go with & for anything logo related and use and for anything involving SEO.One thing I learned is that your name is the least of your concerns when starting your business. Just make sure you’re happy hearing and typing it because it’ll be with you for a long time.

Thanks to Jon Stenstrom, Cast & Spear!


#2- As described by my mum

Photo Credit: Hannah Mia Attewell

With my first business I didn’t give naming much thought at all, I just used my own name. In fact it was a domain name I bought as a hobbyist that I carried on into my professional life. So this time around, when I had more choice I decided to follow the lead of my younger self. I didn’t give it too much thought and just went with my gut. My Mum described me as a, “force of nature,” when we were chatting and I went and bought the domain name later that day. What I’ve learnt from working with imperfect business names is that as long as the branding and messaging is strong and supports the business name, the name itself isn’t worth stressing over. In reality, I could very easily have spent months agonising over choosing the right name instead of using my energy to launch my business and get my (imperfect) name out there.

Thanks to Hannah Attewell, Force of Nature Coach!


#3- Used a few criteria

Photo Credit: Aaron Rubens

Kudoboard is an online group card that replaces the greeting card that’s passed around and signed. When I was naming it, I had a few criteria. First, it had to evoke the product use case in some way. Second, it had to be unique enough that I could get the domain and trademark without a problem. And third (perhaps most importantly), I had to feel proud/comfortable saying it again and again when I meet people. I actually started off calling it BlissWall, but that lasted about 2 days because I was so embarrassed to tell people that was our name. Thank goodness it didn’t stick- BlissWall sounds like some sort of rock climbing gym with a wellness twist!

Thanks to Aaron Rubens, Kudoboard!


#4- Irish word of the common values we share

Photo Credit: Dana Sullivan Kilroy

We’re about a year old and when we started the company we did a values exercise — as in, what are some values we have in common? One of the words that came up during a few conversations was true. The next step was finding an available domain — no easy feat! So we started looking for the word in other languages and discovered the word fior means true in Irish. It’s relatively pronounceable and easy to spell. And we all have some Irish ancestors so we settled on Fior Partners. We like to think we’re our clients true partners….

Thanks to Dana Sullivan Kilroy, Fior Partners!


#5- The concept of the momentum

Photo Credit: Lance Beaudry

My wife came up with our business name after a trip to Colorado to hike. The concept of the momentum that builds and moves so quickly from an avalanche inspired what we try to achieve for our clients. It’s also fitting that my first name is in the word avalanche if you drop the h.

Thanks to Lance Beaudry, Avalanche Creative!


#6- The place we wish we were at when we’re not

Photo Credit: Jeff Smith

When kicking around ideas for a name of our new insurance agency, one thing became clear…we wanted it to *mean* something. If not to the world, at least to us. Castaline is a family place we visit every summer. There is a river, ducks, deer, and geese. There is fishing, hiking, boating, and shooting. Life is slow. It’s our spot to unwind and unplug, to get away from the busy Southern California lifestyle. In short, it’s the place we wish we were at when we’re not. It’s our refuge. Castaline represents peace of mind for me and my family. And that is what we want Castaline to represent to our clients as well.

Thanks to Jeff Smith, Castaline Insurance Agency!


#7- Through personal and professional experiences

Photo Credit: Melissa Drake

My business name (Collaborative AF) evolved through personal and professional experiences that caused me to change my life and my work in very collaborative way. I summed up many of those experiences in a TEDx Talk I presented this spring. The original title of the TEDx Talk was Collaborative Abundant Futures–because I believe collaboration is the way to our abundant future. As the talk evolved, so did the title. However, the essence of it remained and became the basis for my brand. I like that the name is catchy, forward, and representative of a social theme I live by. We are Collaborative AF!

Thanks to Melissa Drake, Collaborative AF!


#8-Who are we? What do we do?

Photo Credit: Barry & Catherine Cohen

As simple as our company name is, it took several years to get there. Our first company name was Fifth Tower Solutions, which meant nothing to anyone but us. No one understood what we did just by looking at our name. We needed something that said more about what we do. With the help experts, we came up with the new name, Business Solutions for Growth. It says what we do, sort of. But it is also very long. Web and email addresses need to be as short as possible, and this was the polar opposite of that rule. We lived with it for a while, but were never really fully on board with it. After some contemplation and brain-wracking, it hit us. Who are we? The Cohens. What do we do? Coach. Cohen Coaching! Simple and to the point. Add in our tagline, Attract your ideal client, and there is no question of who we are and what we do.

Thanks to Barry & Catherine Cohen, Cohen Coaching!


#9- The thought of how knowledge of a network can be used for your own career

Photo Credit: Tomás Uribe

Stereotheque is a cloud-based platform to empower young professionals and organizations of all disciplines in the Media and Entertainment Industries, to become more competitive, generate growth, and drive more business opportunities. The idea of the name came from thinking how knowledge of a network can be used for your own creative career. Where do you go to seek knowledge? Traditionally, the library. And ‘library’ in French and both its Latin and Greek roots is ‘bibliothèque’. In similar fashion, a lot of entertainment-related terms are associated to this, like discotheque, or phonotheque. The first portion, ‘stereo’, comes from the idea of natural innovation in audio. Back when we heard audio in mono, it wasn’t associated to our own anatomy (our left and right ears). So when stereophonic listening began in the 1970’s, it became the natural way of how we listen to things. Stereotheque of course is the result, and it resonates both with our values and with our users.

Thanks to Tomás Uribe, Stereotheque!


#10- Homage to Sesame Street

Photo Credit: Karine Bengualid

I am a francophone and learned to speak English when I was about 4 or 5years old, with the help of my older sister and watching Sesame Street. Now, I work/write exclusively in English. My business name — Brought to you by the letter K — is my homage to Sesame Street. Each episode was sponsored by letters and numbers, and at the end of each episode, one of the muppets would say, This episode has been brought to you by the letters __. And then they’d talk about the letter.

Thanks to Karine Bengualid, Brought to you by the letter K!


#11- From the original idea

Photo Credit: Luke Rosa

I was a high school history teacher and frustrated with the quality of documentary videos for social studies when I came up with my business name Students of History. Originally, the idea was to have students explaining key historical events in brief, engaging videos that teachers across the world could use on Youtube. However, I soon discovered a much larger market for teaching resources, not just videos. My business shifted into producing and marketing all forms of teaching resources and lesson plans for social studies teachers. However, the name still stuck!

Thanks to Luke Rosa, Students of History!


#12- Twofold

Photo Credit: Ruth Shin

Your home is like a nest. When you start putting your belongings in your home, you are essentially putting together your life, you’re “nesting”. PropertyNest is a nest for all real estate needs. We help New Yorkers fulfill their dream of finding the perfect property based on the features they want for their home and based on the property’s financial requirements. The criteria for choosing my company name was twofold. The name has to resonate, and it needs to be search-friendly. I tested several keywords to identify and validate that PropertyNest is the best name for this business.

Thanks to Ruth Shin, PropertyNest!


#13- As suggested by an undergraduate student

Photo Credit: Ashley Lim

As a Wharton graduate student, I had a unique opportunity to crowdsource company name ideas for Mansa Tea when the professor of my Brand Management class suggested using my startup as a classroom exercise. We received an interesting set of names, but it was an undergraduate student who recommended looking into the names of tea mountains given our company heavily focused on sourcing. Ruling out current geographical names, we chose Mansa, an ancient name for the famous Yiwu Mountain.

Thanks to Ashley Lim, Mansa Tea!


#14- Treated the naming like a tattoo

Photo Credit: Joe Martin

A lot of people don’t have easy last names. They can be long, complex, hard to say. But “Martin”. Maaaaan, Martin is simple. Straight-forward. Could be a first name or a last name. JUST common enough, but still not a Smith. So in naming my agency, I kind of treated it like a tattoo. Thinking about what I want to follow me around for life. And my last name….my last name was it. Then, to encapsulate everything I do, the word “Creative” summed it up pretty nicely. And there we have it. Martin Creative

Thanks to Joe Martin, Martin Creative!


#15- Held an employee contest

Photo Credit: Ryan Frandsen

As we developed the tools for an online web to print portal we wanted the name to be both easy for people to remember, and understand what it is was about. We held an employee contest offering $100 to the employee who came up with the winner. Even though many good names were suggested it came down to sticking to our primary objectives and finding a domain name that was available. We decided on AboutThePrint because that really what the service is all about. While the service launched primarily directed at the wedding industry other print products are in soon coming online.

Thanks to Ryan Frandsen, AboutThePrint!


#16- Representation of our beliefs and values

Photo Credit: Jessi Honard

Our name is a core piece of our business. It’s a representation of our beliefs and our values. We believe every business has a north star — their core message. That north star guides them through the sometimes difficult, and often nuanced, decisions of running a business, guiding them to their goals. It’s the single most important takeaway from their business, and the one thing their audience will remember and cherish about them. As a messaging strategy firm, our goal is always to help our clients find and stay true to their own north star, and it’s reflected in everything we do, including our name.

Thanks to Jessi Honard, North Star Messaging + Strategy!


#17- After having a massive poll and domain check

Photo Credit: Sagar Kogekar

My stories of finding business names were rather short and instinctive. I started building an invoicing application in 2007 to help startups and freelancers to organize their billing, clients and most important automate reminders and recurring invoices. Back then even if the competition was quiet low, most domains were already reserved and finding a .com was like finding a needle in a hay stack.   I simply started throwing names such as Clearbill, instabill, billometer, etc. in the domain finder.. To my luck I did manage to find many of them available. I shared the idea with some of my friends to get some inputs and finally zeroed in on Billbooks dot com. I still don’t believe it was available back then. After having a massive poll we finalised Billbooks. Its simple, two words, short, easy to remember, represents the business and most importantly “available”! What else would you want more? Since then it has been on a uphill and anyone rarely forgets the name as its just bang on. After 10 years out of curiosity I was checking domain index and was valued at $10,000.

Thanks to Sagar Kogekar, Billbooks!


#18- Name that pays homage to my heritage

Photo Credit: Carmela Heintzelman

I come from a typical Sicilian Italian family and when I started my business, I wanted to pay homage to my heritage. I chose Fiore Press because I liked the way it sounded and I felt like it was easy to remember, and the rest is history!

Thanks to Carmela Heintzelman, Fiore Press!


#19- Used our business

Photo Credit: John Li

We used our own business (PickFu) to help choose our business name! We had just created our crowdsourced feedback service and brainstormed over two dozen names. We wanted the name to be short, reflective of the service, and available as a .com. We used our service to poll a panel of 50 unbiased respondents, and they told us that PickFu was evocative of choosing (helping people pick) and mastery (as in kung-fu). They also identified potentially negative connotations in other names we were considering. Eventually, other businesses started using PickFu to help with naming, so we created a guide on how to effectively choose a business name.

Thanks to John Li, PickFu!


#20- From a phonetic spelling

Photo Credit: Thomas Beattie

While I was transitioning into the CEO role, we brought on some experienced MBA students to accelerate our growth plans. They were not just talented, but pivotal as they represented our target demographic. The first news they brought to us was that our name didn’t resonate. We proceeded to embark on a rebranding exercise that allowed us the opportunity to engage with, and more deeply understand our target markets. While many options hit the cutting room floor, we landed with Voleo, a phonetic spelling of VOting portfoLIO. A perfect fit for our Investment Club App. As both continue to achieve amazing results in their career, we hope that leaving this mark on our company remains a highlight.

Thanks to Thomas Beattie, Voleo!


#21- Tempered our creative instincts with hard data

Photo Credit: Sam Orchard

People often go with gut instinct for their company name, but when choosing our company name, we made sure to temper our creative instincts with hard data. It’s actually a similar process to how we approach our design work, ensuring that we’re not just picking things we like, but deciding on something that speaks to our audience and inspires a reaction. We came up with a wide range of initial ideas, some clearly terrible – some really exciting. We researched to make sure they were all original, then narrowed the list down to 10 by taking out the ones that wouldn’t ever work. Then, we ran the options through Google Surveys to see what a selection of people thought about each name – what did it make them think of? Did it sound creative, authoritative, new, high-end? We looked at the results to decide which metrics had the most impact for us and how we want to come across, and we had a clear winner.

Thanks to Sam Orchard, Edge of the Web!


#22- Two-word Combo

Photo Credit: Denis Devigne

VidDay is a two-word combo, deriving from receiving a ‘video’ on your special ‘day’. Our company is centered around making video montages for any occasion, which is a relatively new concept for people to grasp. There’s a lot of education that goes into offering a new kind of service. For this reason, we thought that it was important to have our name be descriptive which helps our core customers share VidDay’s story. VidDay is the easiest way to make a video montage with a group to give as a gift for any special occasion.

Thanks to Denis Devigne, VidDay!


#23- An ode to my biggest hobby

Photo Credit: Gino Sesto

DASH TWO was named as an ode to my biggest hobby, flying. I’ve been flying small airplanes for over 30 years (I got my license at 18). DASH TWO is an aviation term that refers to when 2 planes are flying in formation, the plane in front is dash 1 and the second plane is dash 2. At DASH TWO we value our clients greatly and see them as the ones in front taking the lead and we are the support for them, hence DASH TWO.

Thanks to Gino Sesto, DASH TWO!


#24- Inspired by a book I like to read

Photo Credit: Spencer Kelly

Coming up with a business name took some deep thinking, but I knew 2 things for sure. I like reading about expeditionary history. And I knew I was going to sell soap. At the time, I was reading a book by Jules Verne, called 5 Weeks in a Balloon. When trying to think of a business name, I stared at a map for a long time. I look over at my bookshelf, and I thought about the book I was reading. I was hoping to be inspired by the name of a country or from a book that I liked to read. That’s when it came to me! Expedition Soaps, The Expedition Soap Company.

Thanks to Spencer Kelly, The Expedition Soap Company, LLC!


#25- Picture in front of a shrine…

Photo Credit: Robert Gorkowski

Late one evening, I became frustrated with trying to think of a name for my new company and I decided to go to bed. As I turned off the light and headed upstairs, I heard a fluttering sound in the living room. I stopped and listened and heard nothing. When I headed back up the stairs, I heard it again. I went back into the living room and flipped on the lights. My eyes caught the picture above the fireplace. It was a picture of me and my wife back in 1989, in front of a shrine with a massive gold roof. Next to the picture was a huge dragonfly about eight inches long. It was right next to the picture. I looked at the dragonfly, then looked at the picture. I looked from one to the other again and again. And then I noticed that the dragonfly was next to the golden roof on the shrine. I thought to myself, golden roof—Golden Roof Realty. That’s it!

Thanks to RobertGorkowski, Golden Roof Realty!


#26- From a magazine column

Photo Credit: David Leonhardt

The year was 2001. I had recently published my book “Climb Your Stairway to Heaven: the 9 habits of maximum happiness”. And I had just been offered a magazine column, which would be called “The Happy Guy”. So, I was at a BNI networking meeting, and I introduced myself as “David Leonhardt, the Happy Guy”. After the meeting, I chatted with several people, and none of them remembered my name. But every one of them remembered that I was “The Happy Guy”. A half hour later, TheHappyGuy was mine. This was 2001, when almost nobody was on the Web. When I turned my attention to online marketing, which I had become good at, it was only natural to name my company “The Happy Guy Marketing”. The name also meant that people knew they would have a pleasant experience doing business with us, so it just made sense.

Thanks to David Leonhardt, THGM Writers!


#27- As friends told tales of unfortunate woe

Photo Credit: Anthony Camera

Juju Be Gone’s inspiration unfurled one evening around the dinner table as friends told tales of unfortunate woe: streaks of bad luck, dramatic breakups, and all sorts of things that drag us down and low at times in life. I decided that I needed to create a unique, positive gift collection designed to come to the rescue of everyone ‘out there’ in need of kicking bad juju to the curb, being uplifted, and given a virtual soul-hug. Solutions were imagined in the form of creatively curated energy-moving, mojo-building gift kits with all the right stuff contained inside to bring on lots of good vibes, laughter, and comfort, while clearing out negative and stagnant energy. So the name was born from getting rid of the “bad juju” hence Juju Be Gone, and bringing on the positive vibes.

Thanks to Courtney Mamuscia, Juju Be Gone!


#28- Tied to my Last Bad Day story

Photo Credit: Michael Obrien

On July 11, 2001, I had my Last Bad Day. It was the day I was hit head-on by an SUV going 40 m.p.h. During a bike training ride. I’m lucky to be alive and spent months in the hospital. During one team visit with my medical team, I said to my wife, “they are like my recovery peloton.” A peloton is a group of cyclists in a bike race like the Tour de France, and they require collaboration, communication, and community to go faster together. The same is true for tribes at work and society in general. It was in that moment when I knew that when I left my corporate career for entrepreneurship and executive coaching, I would call my firm Peloton Coaching and Consulting because I help successful corporate leaders build better pelotons and cultures.

Thanks to Michael Obrien, Peloton Coaching and Consulting!


How did you come up with your business name? Tell us in the comments below. Don’t forget to join our #IamCEO Community

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2 Comments

  1. I came up with my business name, The Terrorist Therapist®, not only to intrigue people, but also to be memorable. I’m a psychiatrist who helps people keep calm and carry on while living under the threat of terrorism – with speaking engagements, media interviews, audio-video programs and books, like Lions and Tigers and Terrorists, Oh My! How to Protect Your Child in a Time of Terror. When people hear the name Terrorist Therapist, they often look at me quizzically and ask whether I do therapy with terrorists or wonder whether I am a terrorist. At first this may seem like a downside, but it gets the conversation going so I can explain what I do, and it helps media remember my name when breaking news happens.
    Carole Lieberman M.D. http://www.terroristtherapist.com

  2. Just joined the community! Looking forward to connecting with you further.

    As for the name of my business, the name was created around my love for coffee and branding. My name is Ashley Graham and I am the Founder and Creative Director of Brandesso, a modern-day branding, and marketing agency that infuses brand authority through caffeinated strategies and communications through social media and public relations. To Brandesso, every brand has a unique story. Our creative process is to filter the raw, unique details of a brand and incorporate a well-rounded methodology and strategy that brews the brand to stand out in their industry as an authoritative figure.

    Brandesso is a mix of the words Branding & Espresso and all of the content on our website and social media encompasses descriptive works relating to coffee or how coffee is made, similar to the marketing mix and funnel. Brand development should be fun and inventive and we sure think we did a great job with it!

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