If you think finding the perfect name for a child is tough, try naming a product or a company. There are so many questions which have to be answered.

  • Should you go long or short?
  • Do you want to include the name of the founder or try to come up with something clever or memorable?
  • And to further complicate the process, after you name the product or company, what will your domain name be?

So where do you start? If you are in the hunt for a new product name, here some things to keep in mind:

Plan for Growth

Sure it is just you in this new business today, but what about a year or two from now? No matter how you spin it, Lorraine Ball and Associates always sounds like it is just one person, with a giant ego pretending they have a company.

If you want to sell the business you have built some day, who is going to pay for your name? And, how will you feel about a company with your name going in a direction you would never have sent it.

Don’t Count on the Name for Everything

If you are launching a new product or service, don’t expect the name to tell the whole story. It won’t. No one word or phrase can really sum up all you want your brand to mean to everyone who runs into it. The brand is built over time as people interact with the company, the name takes on meaning as people interact with the brand.

For people familiar with Greek mythology, Nike is a great name for a running shoe. They appreciate the association with NIKE (or Nicé) the winged goddess of victory in both battle and peaceful competition. But most people have no idea this is where the name comes from. The name has gained meaning through a comprehensive and coordinated marketing program, sustained over time.

Don’t let the Internet Drive Your Name

If you are running an internet business, then the domain name needs to be picked first. However, if your business isn’t primarily internet based, pick the right business name, and then worry about the domain name.

I have seen so many companies bypass really good names because the .com wasn’t available. Let’s face it, today the .com is probably not available. With 571 new websites being created every minute throughout the world it is impossible to find any name with six characters or less in the .com family. So, you will either need to accept a longer name or use a .biz, .info, .net or other suffix.

Consider Visual and Auditory

Your name will be written and said out loud. Can people pronounce it? I had a client who had to spell their company name every time they called a new prospect. This awkward exchange always slowed down the sales process. As you are naming your company, don’t make it hard for people to remember, they won’t bother.

Where do Names Come From?

Foreign languages – We often look at foreign languages for inspiration when trying to name a product or service. I prefer the romance languages; French, Spanish, Italian and even the parent Latin. They are usually easy for Americans to pronounce and they kind of sound familiar so you can guess at the meaning.

For example, when Elucida Imaging was first launched, their brand position was focused on helping businesses get clarity with their data and documents. Elucida is Latin and has the same roots as the English word lucid. Even if people didn’t know exactly what they did, they had an impression about the brand.

Compound words and smash ups –  Taking two words which both connect to the product or service and creating a new compound word to describe the business. In some instances, a few letters are lost along the way. Federal Express, for example, became FedEx.

Made up words and misspelling  My favorite example in this category is Kleenex. When you hear the name, the message of clean comes through. Although it wasn’t a real word, much like foreign language influences, it was easy for people to get a sense of what the product was.

Xerox is also in this category, but the name had absolutely no meaning before they started marketing the product. If you have a truly innovative product, with a large marketing budget, this is an interesting approach, but for most small businesses, this is an uphill battle.

Embrace the Name

Whatever you ultimately choose to name your product or service will become the right choice as long as you put the marketing behind it to help people get to know it.

Looking for other ideas on names? I found this great TED video on word creation which might inspire you.