dos_and_donts_of_naming_a_businessGoogle is one of those companies that is so ubiquitous with its product that its name has become a verb. But can you imagine if instead of “Googling” you “BackRubbed” something?

If things were different, you may have. BackRub was the working nickname of the search engine.

Names are important when starting a business. A name sets the tone for your business and branding, so make sure that you think it through before making a choice.

Here are some dos and don’ts for naming a business:

Do: Keep It Simple

Google, Apple and Facebook are some of the biggest companies in the world, but they all have simple names. When businesses have complicated names, it could be harder for consumers to remember them.

Complicated names also make it more difficult to market the business. Think of how the name will look on a website, in a logo and in marketing materials when you are doing your brainstorming.

Remember to consider things like spelling and ease-of-use as well. Simplicity can solve for all of these things.

Don’t: Try to Hard

Subway may be a successful sandwich franchise today, but its history was a lesson in trying too hard. When the first store opened, it was under the name of Pete’s Super Submarines.

As if that wasn’t try-hard enough, the company changed its name to Doctor’s Associates Inc. a year later. Yes, a sandwich company called Doctor’s Associates Inc. Puzzle over that!

Forcing over-exuberant names, inside jokes or bizarre disconnected names can be a major headache for your brand. Just don’t try too hard.

Do: Plan for Potential Growth

Keep in mind that what you offer when you launch a business may not be all your company offers over time. For example, Apple, Inc. used to be called Apple Computers until they changed it in 2007 to better connect to their various products.

Try to choose a name that reflects where your company is and where it might go in the future. This can prevent you from having to change the name down the road.

Don’t: Be Too Literal

It can seem like an easy solution to choose a name that is very straight-forward to what your company does. But keep in mind that going too literal can result in a name that does not exactly roll off the tongue.

Have you ever heard of the Computing Tabulating Recording Company? Probably not. But you may recognize the name they go by now, IBM. Sure, the acronym is short for another literal name (International Business Machines), but the company had to loosen the literal reigns before landing on a name that really worked for them.

Do: Research All Options Thoroughly

Before you make your final choice, make sure that you do some research. You want a name that is original, but you also want to make sure it isn’t associated with anything that you are unaware of.

Current slang, historical events and other situations can impact how people feel about a name. Think about your acronyms as well. For example, “Water Table Fun” may seem like a simple name for a company that sells water tables for kids, but the acronym… not so great for a toy company!

Choose a name that you love, because you are going to be spending a lot of time with it. Good luck!


Erin Palmer


Erin Palmer is a writer and editor who loves a business with a pun in its name. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including The Chicago Tribune and The Huffington Post.




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