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Business Name Generator [Infographic]

by | Last updated Feb 23, 2016

Congratulations on your new business venture!

Now it needs a name.

I think we can all agree:

Naming a new business is a blast, but…

That blast that can quickly turn into the black hole called time-sink.

But guess what?

Not anymore!

Because today, we’ve got something that will slash the time it takes to name your business in half:

The business naming flowchart + 11 action-packed business naming tips + pitfalls to avoid + tie-breaking techniques.

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Free Bonus:

Get access to the (free) “How to Name a Business” PDF tip-list.

HINT: Print on both sides, laminate, & keep on your desk for a handy cheat-sheet.

Get Access!

Let’s Delve into the Business Name Generator Infographic, Shall We?

How’s that for infographic design? Probably not as neat and tidy as you’re used to.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret…

Naming your business isn’t neat and tidy.

It’s rough around the edges. It’s crumpled-up papers and scribble-outs. It’s trial and error. It’s midnight oil and frazzled brain the next day. It’s a pumped-up and bummed-out ride on the Zipper.

And we wanted our business name generator infographic to reflect that.

So yes, we know what you’re going through. Because we’ve been there, we wanted to share some of what we’ve learned to save you some of that midnight oil. It’s expensive!

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably asked Jeeves “how to name a business” or scoured Altavista for a “business name generator”.  Ok maybe not, but your due diligence has probably revealed 2 major approaches to naming your company:

Camp 1:

Be Descriptive

…your business name needs to be unique and available. It should also be rich in key words that reflect what your business does. Small Business Administration

Choose Your Business Name

Camp 2:

Be Kreative!

No one remembers a long business name. Imagine what the name will look like on a business card or advertisement. Short is sweet! Forbes

Tips for Naming Your Business

Wait…

So should your business name be keyword heavy and spell it out?

Or should you get creative to keep it short?

Here’s another set of biz naming tips:

The Huffington Post suggests you “Skip nods to pop culture”, while Forbes says to “look to pop culture for off-beat references that spur your thinking forward.”

Talk about conflicting!

Conflicting advice when naming a business

Apparently Conan O’Brien is posing for stock photos now.

No wonder so many of us come away more unsure of what to name our businesses than before we started.

Analysis paralysis….or is it paralysis by analysis?

So who’s right?

(cliche alert) Both are!

And what do we suggest?

Run your business through our business naming flowchart. See where you end up.

It’s not 100% guaranteed to work, but…

Brian Fantana knows how to name a business

They’ve done studies, you know.  Credit: Giphy

If nothing else, company name ideas will be bouncing around your head like a beach ball at a Nickelback concert.

Camp 1: Be Descriptive

The infographic starts with Camp 1, the obvious.

Think about that statement for a second.

The obvious: easily perceived or understood; clear, self-evident, or apparent

If you boil it down, isn’t that the goal of every brand? To be top-of-mind for your niche?

Though not always sexy, the descriptive approach to naming your business can market for you.

Heavy Equipment Appraisal. Hmmm, I wonder what they do?

This can be especially helpful when starting up.

As Entrepreneur.com says:

…the more your name communicates to consumers, the less effort you must exert to explain it.

On the flip-side, pundits for creative business names argue that unique company names engage potential customers in the “What do you do?” conversation.  The descriptively named business might miss out on that conversation (and that customer).

Earlier, we asked which camp is right, and ultimately, the answer is…

The one that YOU choose.

Could it blow up in your face and you need to re-brand?

ABSOLUTELY!

But could it just as easily blow up in your face if someone else names your company?

ABSO-freaking-LUTELY!

There are no guarantees in business (except that rent will go up).

We all know about the power of passion.  Be as passionate about your business name as you are about your business venture and you’ll be unstoppable!

Location, Location, Location

If you’re strictly a location-based business (like a service or tourism business) and plan to be for the foreseeable future (PRO-TIP: if you have difficulty seeing your future, channel your inner Miss Cleo), it can be advantageous to include the location in your business name.

Miss Cleo can help you name your business.

Back to the top-of-mind discussion, don’t you want to be THE ONE for that area?

Most times, there can only be one.

Shouldn’t it be you?

Generics

We’re big fans of naming businesses generically, after the product, service, or solution that you offer.

In the domain name world, this is called an exact match domain.

Here is what Michael Cyger at Domain Sherpa had to say about exact match domains:

|

EMDs Have Immediate Brand Recognition and Authority

This is probably the most important benefit of an exact-match domain name.

No, business names and domain names aren’t the same.

Yes, the same logic applies to business names (at least that’s our stance :).

Thumbing through the Miami yellow pages (people still do that, right?), is your first call going to be to Miami Self-Storage or Dexter’s Storage Containers?

Ok, not the best idea to choose that’s area’s cult hero (pretty creative, if I do say so myself), but the point is:

99 times out of 100, Miami Self-Storage gets my call.

Just like any successful business, the flowchart is flexible.  This makes it easy for you to jump camps if the descriptive route in how to name a business isn’t getting the job done.

(it may be political ad season, but we won’t shame you for being a flip-flopper 🙂 )

Camp 2: Be Kreative

(or:  So You Want to Coin a Business Name)

Have you gone through the How to Name a Business flowchart and decided a descriptive name isn’t right for your business?  Or maybe you’re just not able to tear your eyes away from the screen?

Either way:

Clear your schedule and hop on the namestorming train!

1. Combine Words with Your Business Niche

Compound Word:  The result of two words being joined.

The word-joining skill (perfected in the 4th grade) has spawned some of the world’s most powerful company names.

If it’s good enough for the likes of Facebook, Home Depot, and MasterCard, it may just work for your new business name.

Rarely can you describe a company with 1 word. But 2? Absolutely.

A 2 word business name is like the best of both worlds:  still relatively short, yet tells your story.

So what are you waiting for?

Bust out some #2’s, your favorite Trapper Keeper, a thesaurus, and get that business named!

A plethora of Trapper Keepers

Trapper Keepers courtesy of Do You Remember

2. Add, Subtract, or Swap-Out a Letter

This trend was probably born as a result of domain name unavailability.

Digg likely wanted Dig.com…but didn’t want to arm wrestle The Walt Disney Company for it.

We dig this approach to business naming because the name stands out and it’s close enough to the original word that people still get the point.

Dribbble, Workflowy, Backlinko, Untappd, and Qzzr are just a handful of great companies all rocking this brand naming trend.

3. Misspelled Business Names

Heard of sensational spelling?

Nope, not referring to your my county spelling bee glory days.

Maybe you’re not familiar with the term, but our daily lives are filled with this type of advertising.

(hint: check your pantry or the cereal aisle)

Sensational spelling in the cereal aisle

Sensational spelling in the cereal aisle. CC Image “Cereal Boxes” courtesy of Rich Mitchell on Flickr.

Sensational (or divergent) spelling is the “deliberate spelling of a word in an incorrect or non-standard way for special effect”.

This is hardly a new trend (The Beatles, Froot Loops, Krispy Kreme), but some of the newer examples we love are Shyp, Kabbage (also Karrot, powered by Kabbage), and Lyft.

4. Add a Prefix

Just like the preface of your favorite book, you may want to introduce your business name with a prefix.

Here are some common prefixes and business name examples:

P

i+

iTunes
P

un+

UNboxd, Untappd
P

my+

Myspace, MyFonts, MySQL
P

buzz+

BuzzFeed, Buzzsumo, Buzzsprout
P

go+

GoComics, goHUNT, GoPro
P

web+

WebMD, WebAssign, Webflow
P

insta+

Instagram, Instacart, Instapaper
P

you+

YouTube, YouCanBook.me, YouFit

Instagram is a fun one because it doubles as a portmanteau.

5. Tack on a Suffix

If adding a prefix to the beginning of your business name isn’t your thing, why not leave a lasting impression with a suffix?

+ify

Spotify

Shopify

Brewify

+ly

Diply

Ow.ly

Weebly

+gy

Mixergy

Namergy

Snag.gy

(we’re not afraid of a shameless plug or 7)

Here’s a handy list of the most popular suffixes and prefixes to speed up your search.

Another suffix approach is using your domain name’s TLD as a suffix. We showed a few above (Snag.gy). Other examples include Bit.ly, Reach.ly, Infogr.am.

Want to blow people’s hair back?

Construct your brand name 100% from prefixes and suffixes. BuzzFeed did.

6. Make Sh*t Up!

When in doubt:

Make shit up.

Here are some fun exercises to get the juices flowing:

Dust off your copy of Scrabble.  Dump all the letters on the floor and get to tinkering.

Listen to kids.  Kids are fluent in gibberish (and by gibberish, I mean gems). 5 minutes seeing the world through their eyes could yield you a new business name or catch-phrase.

How to name a business: Make shit up with scrabble

CC Image “R” courtesy of Caitlin Regan on Flickr.

7. Pick a Mascot

What’s more adorable than a monkey? (SurveyMonkey, MailChimp)

Sumo wrestlers, maybe? (BuzzSumo, AppSumo)

What’s stronger than a gorilla? (Gorilla Glue)

A T-Rex, perhaps. (T-Rex Tape)

Speaking of tape, what about Duct Tape as a mascot? (Duct Tape Marketing)

Sticky…Genius!

And the best part?

It doesn’t matter if you have a sound reason for choosing a particular mascot…or absolutely no reason at all.

People love mascots in business names.

Except Krinkles.  Stay away from Krinkles.


How to name a Business: Use a mascot, like AppSumo!

We used no less than 3 AppSumo offerings on this post alone. (read: join AppSumo post-haste)

8. WTF is a Portmanteau?!

I thought you’d never ask.

Portmanteau:  A portmanteau word fuses both the sounds and the meanings of its components (says Wikipedia).

The mythical liger is a portmanteau word

Napoleon knew a thing or two about portmanteaus. IMAGE: FOX SEARCHLIGHT

A few examples might help clarify:

Groupon = Group + Coupon

Pinterest = Pin + Interest

Travelocity = Travel + Velocity

Garmin = Gary Burrell + Min Kao (founders)

…oh, and it works great for mythical beasts, too:

Liger = Lion + Tiger

LAZINESS ALERT: The Portmanteau is an art that will take more patience than slapping 2 words together.

But if you put in the work, your cleverness will command consumer attention.

9. Considering a Long Business Name?

Be sure to check the initialism (a type of abbreviation) before getting too pumped about your new moniker.

One of 3 things can happen with your abbreviation:

1) Something B.A.D.  (do you really want to spend your weekend at the S.T.D. Flea Market?)  A 2-minute abbreviation check can save you years of embarrassment, wasted time, and $$$ spent re-branding. If you’re an existing business with a bad abbreviation, check out the unfortunate business name section for tips on how to wear it with pride.

2) Something good .  Cool sounding, or a common acronym, or… This is like icing on the cake. Not a necessity if you have a long company name, but heck, you won’t kick your abbreviation out of bed for eating crackers.

3) Nothing.  Most times, a gibberish abbreviation is more good than bad. Unless your abbreviation’s letters are easily transposed.

10. Use a Business Name Generator for Inspiration

Sometimes we all need a little boost.

If you’re struggling with business naming block, check out a business name generator.

The name generators we found range from zero user input (aside from “click the button, monkey”) to mostly user input (enter a few words, do you want a prefix/suffix?, etc.)

Here are some business name generators that we think are the most helpful (and just plain fun):

The Hipster Business Name Generator

How to name a business: Hipster business name generator

Talk about addicting…I think we wore out the “ANOTHER!” button.

The Hipster Business Name Generator gives you:

  • A cool hipster business name
  • A logo (complete w/the hipster “X” & other iconic design elements)
  • 1-click to lock up the matching domain name

Talk about lean startup costs!

I wasn’t w/the “name & name” format, so I was initially wondering if this was a law firm name generator.

How can you go wrong with generated names like Geese & Oatmeal, Vase & Satchel, Lettuce & Wharves, and Cherry & Loaf?

You can’t.

How about a real-world example? I saw this over the weekend:

How to name a business: hipster business name in Estes Park

Inkwell & Brew in Estes Park, CO. I wonder if they used The Hipster Business Name Generator?

NameThingy

If you thought the Hipster generator was painless, check the NameThingy out.

It takes “ease of use” to a whole new level.

Here’s what you do:

1) Grab a Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (The adult beverage or your significant other or both. Your choice.)

2) Navigate your browser thingy to NameThingy.com.

3) Take a sip or a smooch or both.

4) Recline your chair, put your feet up.

5) Open your eyes and watch. Here’s what you’ll see:

NameThingy-1

NARY A BUTTON TO PUSH!!!

Life is hard.

For you over-achievers, NameThingy does provide additional options:

How to name a business: NameThingy.com options

NameThingy options: simple, helpful, hands free.

11. Have Fun 🙂

I don’t think many of you will argue:

Business is tough.

We deserve some fun.

And naming your business should fall into the fun category.

Notice I didn’t say easy.

I said F-U-N!

Sure, it may take a while.

Sure, it’s maddening when the perfect company name is already taken.

A light at the end of the business naming tunnel

Sure, your crumpled-up paper mountain may be responsible for demolishing the rain forest.

But hey, you probably had some laughs and met some cool people along the way?

You maybe even learned a thing or two. For this venture and the next.

And the ultimate prize?

A brand new business name, crafted by your own hands, and there to grow old with you (or sell for a not-small profit).

Tiebreakers

Having trouble deciding between the names on your shortlist?

Here are some sifters to help the weeding-out process:

The Trademark Test™

Does your name infringe on someone else’s trademark?

Do yourself a favor:  avoid the trademark headache with a 2 second trademark search at Trademarkia.

You also want to do a business name search with the state that you’re going to file in:

Just type “<state> business name search” into the google machine to find that state’s Secretary of State business name search.

In the event that some #$@&%*!’er has trademarked your brainchild, wipe the single tear from your cheek, put on your domainer hat, & walk away.

Seriously, don’t get hooked. It will eat you up.

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Cross this name off and move to the next name on your list. Nothing to see here.

If you can’t walk away, give David Weslow a shout.  David is just fantastic.

He’s also an Intellectual Property Attorney that can help you navigate the trademark world.

The Unfortunate Business Name Test

How (not) to name a business: STD Flea Market

Click to see in Google (Street) Maps

Unless you want your company to end up as a meme or on a top 10 list (the not-good variety), don’t fall into the same trap that these companies did:

Amigone Funeral Home.

Anal Tech….can be found at AnalTech.com.

The Tranny Man.

How does one protect against an unfortunate business name, you ask?

Common sense, mostly (sorry, no tips for that), but Urban Dictionary might help if you’re behind on what the kids are saying these days.

If you are saddled with an unfortunate business name, fear not!

There are ways to turn the tables.  Here’s what Gaylord Hardwood Flooring did:

The Offensive International Word Test

“Fodder” in English = food

“Foder” in Portugese = f*ck

In the U.S., Kermit the Frog is known as the beloved felt amphibian leader of the Muppets. But in France…

“frog” can be a derogatory term.

How (not) to name a business: The Offensive International Word Test

CC Image “Offensive?” courtesy of Lynn Hand on Flickr.

A quick Google Translate or a ctrl+F on Wikipedia’s list of ethnic slurs would be a good idea before declaring your business name search over.

Does the Business Name Lend Itself to a Cool Logo?

Truth:  today’s graphic designers (see: Dribbble) can make anything look good.

However:  some business names are easier to badass-ify the logo than others.

Envision this:

You’re heading to a dinner date. You’re tasked with bringing the wine. This is the only thing you know about vino:

How to name a business: Hannibal and his chianti

Hannibal suggests a nice Chianti. Image Credit: Imgur

If you’re anything like me, you’re heading to that dinner party with the coolest looking wine logo.

Logos matter.

Oh, and don’t forget about your bite-size mobile icon. Why?

Because mobile is the future of everything.

And people gravitate towards the best looking icon.

Are the Domain Name & Social Media Handles Available?

One of the first things we recommend when starting a new business:

Grab your matching domain name and social networking handles (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and the social media craze du jour).

There are a million domain search tools out there, but we absolutely ♥ Domize and DomainTyper.

Domize is great for seeing domain name availability across many TLDs and <reasons>. It has been our go-to for years.

We recently found DomainTyper and fell in love. Why do we love it, you ask? Because this:

DomainTyper-1

As for searching social media names, KnowEm? and Namech_k are great.

And simple.

Just head over to KnowEm? for a 1-click search of your business name across 500+ social networks.

Use KnowEm.com to help name your business

I don’t know about you….but I’m a big fan of anything that saves me from typing the same thing 500+ times.

BONUS:  Namech_k and KnowEm might introduce you to new social networking sites.

The online space is so important in today’s world that domain and social network handle availability just might be the difference between one business name and another.

A/B Test Your Business Name

Did you know that Tim Ferriss chose the name The 4 Hour Workweek after split-testing it against other options on Google Ads?

No reason you can’t do the same for choosing a company name.

Did you know that we concluded on our name search after paying consumers $15 American dollars to choose their favorite?

True story. Here’s how we did it:

Head over to Google Consumer Surveys.

Read some stuff, watch a video, check out a sample survey.

(or if you belong to the “grip it and rip it” tribe, just click create a survey)

Name your survey and choose your target audience.  Continue.

Here’s the cool part:

How to Name a Business: Google Consumer Surveys can help

Look at that smorgasbord of options!

Choose a company name, logos, button colors, marketing decisions.  You could seriously use this tool to make any business (or life) decision.

We went simple:

Chose the “Single Answer” format, wrote our question, and added the 2 options we were trying to decide between.

And here’s what the surveyee sees:

Google Consumer Survey - Surveyor View

Sure: we have no idea if the respondees even read the question, but the options are randomized & there are only 2 of them.

150 responses later (at 10¢ a pop) here are the results we saw:

Google Consumer Survey - Stats

Incredibly insightful. I love that you can filter results by gender, age, geography, and much more.

Hardly scientific, nor thoughtfully executed, and small sample size.

But who cares?

Not us. It was exactly what we were looking for:

It was super quick (fully completed in a couple of hours), the results (and the platform) were interesting, it was exciting, and it confirmed the name we were leaning towards.

Before You Go…

Which of these namestorming techniques are you most pumped about for your business name search?

Download or print our handy How to Name a Business tip-list for a quick refresher, then leave a comment and let us know!

Oh yeah…  If you got something out of this infographic….someone else might too, so please tweet about the How to Name a Business Infographic.

Oh yeah (x2)…  I’d love to hear read your thoughts on this infographic, your favorite cool company names, or other ideas for choosing a business name. After you share the infographic ( 😉 )on Google+, Facebook, and/or the Twitter, shoot us a comment below w/your feedback!

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