Best Practice: Select right name category for a competitive advantage, pricing, allows for growth & stands out from the competition.
Today’s Article: Nine Naming Categories to Help You Find the Right Company Name
Company names can be divided into nine key primary categories: Literal, Attribute, Legacy, Initials/Numbers, Word Combination, New Invented, Related, Alliteration or Rhyme and Inquiring.
Note: One name can be in more than one category. Example: “GREY GOOSE vodka and flavored vodkas are made using superior ingredients, a unique production process and traditions of the Cognac region of France.” (alliteration/rhyme and related, related tied in with the word goose)
1. Literal names comprise a word or a few keywords to help people quickly understand what you sell. Examples: Pizza Hut or Dunkin Donuts.
Pros: Makes it easy to understand what the company does.
Cons: May be difficult to find a trademark free matching domain name and may limit future growth if the name does not allow for adding new products or services in the future. Example: Midas started as Midas Muffler. Initial name limited them to just mufflers.
2. Attribute names provide a feature or strategic advantage to help people understand what you sell. Examples build around speed: Jiffy Lube, Fast Sign, or Sir Speedy.
Pros: Allows the name to be associated with a main feature or strategic advantage.
Cons: May be difficult to find a trademark free matching domain name.
3. Legacy names are often tied to a founder, geographic area or a product. Examples: Disney (named after Walt Disney the founder), Southwest Airlines (started in Texas initially serving that geographic area of Southwest), or 20 Mule Team® Borax. (Francis M. “Borax” Smith. Smith established the first successful borax mining operation in 1872 at Teel’s Marsh, Nevada. Borax was transported out of the desert by a 20 mule team.)
Pros: Can make a strong connect with the founder, geographic area or a product.
Cons: Name is tied to the reputation of the person. If the person’s reputation becomes a problem, the company, product or service name has a problem. (Examples: Tiger Woods or Lance Armstrong). If the founders name does not take on its own independent identity like Dell being more associated with computers than its founder’s last name, one may have a harder time selling the business in the future. Geographic name can limit it to a specific area or because many names may be tied to the same area it can hinder standing out. If a company name is built around a product, may limit adding new products or services for future growth.
4.Initials/Numbers names are comprised of letters and/or numbers. Examples: CVS (originally came from Consumer Value Stores), BMW(originally came from Bavarian Motor Works), or UPS (originally came from United Parcel Service).
Pros: Can be easy to say, spell, remember and allows for growth.
Cons: May be difficult to find a trademark free matching domain name. People may not know what the company does. A great tagline would help with this.
5. Combined word names create a new word not found in the dictionary by combining existing words or parts of existing words. Examples: LiteHouse or FedEx (FedEx was shortened from Federal Express.)
Pros: By combining existing words or parts of existing words, people may more easily understand what the company does versus an invented name that people do not know at all.
Cons: Depending on the name, may not be as easy to spell. May take more money and time for potential customers to connect with it. People may not know exactly what the company does – a great tagline would help with this.
6. Invented names create a new word not found in the dictionary. Examples: Verizon, or Accenture. “Verizon”, came from veritas (Latin for “truth”) and horizon. The name Accenture came from the concept of “accent on the future” to position the company as a global consulting leader and high performer.
Pros: With an invented name, one has a clean slate to work with and is easier to find a trademark free matching domain name.
Cons: May take more money and time for potential customers to connect with it. A great tagline would help with this. Depending on the name, may not be as easy to say, spell, and remember.
7. Related names take the existing meaning of a word or qualities and build upon it. Examples: Jaguar (car company could tie in with the qualities of the animal: speed, streamlined body contour, regal look, etc.), Amazon ( The Amazon River in South America is the largest river in the world. Name could tie in with size of river. Amazon.com launched with the tagline “Earth’s biggest book store” and A is the first letter in the alphabet. ) or Apple (According to Steve Jobs, Apple computer came from “on one of my fruitarian diets” and had just come back from an apple farm, and thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”).
Pros: People have a built in association with the name that they may be familar with. Company can connect with those positive associations, because they are already in the mind. Makes it easier to have a logo.
Cons: May be difficult to find a trademark free matching domain name.
8. Alliteration and Rhyme names occurs when two or more words in a row start with the same sounds or syllables of a word group either with the same consonant sound or sound group. Names that are fun to say and stick in the mind. Examples: Reese’s Pieces, Dunkin’ Donuts, Piggly Wiggly, Smart Start, Coca Cola, Best Buy, PayPal, BlackBerry, Chuckee Cheese’s, Krispy Kreme, etc.
Pros: Company name stands out and flows. Easy to remember and say.
Cons: May be more difficult to find a trademark free matching domain name.
9. Inquiring names arouse interest or curiosity. They intrigue people. They cause people to stop and think “what does your company do? Examples: Virgin (Virgin Group Ltd. is a British multinational branded venture capital conglomerate), Bluetooth(technology company), or Red Hat (technology company).
Pros: Company name stands out and does arouse interest or curiosity. People associate inquiring names with companies that think outside the box or are innovative.
Cons: May take more money and time for potential customers to connect with it. A great tagline would help with this.
Recommendation: In a branding process, it is important to look at name possibilities in each name category: Literal, Attribute, Legacy, Initials/Numbers, Word Combination, New Invented, Related, Alliteration or Rhyme and Inquiring. This helps you expand the way you look at your company in finding the best name to connect with your target market, stand out from the competition and reflect your brand position.
Brand Name Filter
The brand name filter below will help you objectively evaluate how available and good a name is.
Number System: 0-poor, 1-fair, 2-good, 3-excellent.
___ Easy to Say
___ Easy to Remember
___ Easy to Pronounce
___ Easy to Spell
___ Name is Web-Ready: Exact Match Domain Name with no hyphen (Domain Search)
___ Trademark is Available (Trademark Search)
___ Available in Your State (Online check with your State Department of Incorporation)
___ Social Media Identity Availability (Example Facebook (B2C), LinkedIn (B2B), etc.)
___ Stands out from the Competition in a Favorable Way
___ Has no Negative Meanings (Example: when translated to a foreign market’s language)
___ Name Allows You to Add New Services or Products in the Future
___ Number of Points
Note: If you are having trouble coming up with a name that you like and is rated high by the brand filter, it may be time to look for an outside source to help you i.e. Ask the Expert
Action Step: Write down a name in each category listed above and use the brand filter above to evaluate it.
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