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Naming Your New Company or Product

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I recently read a great blog post, from a company called The Name Inspector, about how to name your company or product. Whether your goal is to raise capital or gain the interest of partners or customers, the names of your company and products are critical.

In fact, when we first launched Growthink a decade ago, we started with the name BestBizPlan since we initially focused just on developing business plans. Realizing that we would expand beyond business planning, we changed the name to Growthink to reflect our desire and skill sets in helping entrepreneurs and business owners in growing their businesses via planning, capital raising, marketing, strategy and more.

The Growthink name has a better connotation and helps client, prospective clients, partners and employees better understand and relate to our mission. While I cannot attribute our company's success solely to our name, it certainly has helped us.

So, here are the ten ways for you to create great company (and/or product) names as suggested by The Name Inspector:

1. Use Real Words: These are names that are simply repurposed words. (e.g., Adobe, Amazon, Fox, Yelp)

This category also includes misspelled words (e.g., Digg (dig), flickr (flicker)) and foreign words (e.g., Vox (Latin 'voice').

2. Use Compounds: These names consist of two words put together (e.g., Firefox, Facebook).

3. Phrases: These names follow normal rules for combining words (but are not compounds) (e.g., MySpace, StumbleUpon).

4. Use Blends: Blended names have two parts, at least one of which can be recognized as a part of a real word (e.g., Netscape (net + landscape); Wikipedia (wiki + encyclopedia)).

5. Use Tweaked Words: Tweaked word names are derived from words that have been slightly changed in pronunciation and spelling - commonly derived from adding or replacing a letter (e.g., ebay, iTunes).

6. Use Affixed Words: These are unique names that result from taking a real word and adding a suffix or prefix (e.g., Friendster, Omnidrive).

7. Use Made Up or Obscure Origin Words: These names are generally short names that are either completely made up, or, since their origins are so obscure, they may as well have been made up (e.g., Bebo, Plaxo).

8. Use Puns: Puns are names that modify words/phrases to suggest a different meaning (e.g., Farecast (forecast, fore -> fare), Writely (rightly, right -> write))

9. Use People's Names: using a general name or the name from a personal connection (e.g., Ning (a Chinese name), Wendy's (founder Dave Thomas' daughter's nickname)).

10. Use Initials and Acronyms: names derived from the first letter of each word in the longer, more official name (e.g., AOL (America Online), FIM (Fox Interactive Media)).


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Kendall Wouters says

Great post. Funny, I bought a copy of the ol' Business 2.0 magazine back in 1999ish with a article "top 10 how to name your start-up". The two I remember from that article were, # Be sure not to put ".com" in name and # Be sure that the name is something tangible, people can visualize it. Anywho, it ended up being BlueHornet. Kendall Great site btw.
Posted at 2:05 pm
Robert Dagnall says

Dave, How about a followup article about changing/evolving your company's name without losing momentum?
Posted at 4:10 pm
Talha says

Great Post Dave, Choosing a right name for your organization that sounds well is certainly helpful in creating a soft image of an organization. ______________ Talha, Business Plan Writers
Posted at 8:20 am
Vaclav Kirsner, PhD says

Thank you for your post. When naming my company, I briefly hesitated whether or not to take the exotic or esoteric as far as the use of an un-English/un-American letter in the name. In the end, I did not go that far, thinking it advisable not to complicate this for the English speaker too much. It is enough to have to explain - to the initiated, at an appropriate time - that the Zhena in bioZhena Corporation stands for Woman. And, earlier, that the Zh is pronounced as - well, as zh, like in bon jour... My thought is that, when we gain some decent position on the scene, at a suitable moment we will introduce the fancy linguistic detail then, if marketing experts allow that (which I do not see why they shouldn't, if done early enough in the growth process). I am talking here about replacing the two letters Zh with the one Z and the diacritical sign over it that is even in English-language linguistic circles referred to as the hacek (this linguistic word has two such diacritical marks, one over the a and the other over the consonant c - which I do not show here because you are not likely to have your Encoding set for Central European...). :-) On the other hand, our product names are easy: the Ovulona for the personal female consumer product, and the Ovulograph for the professional data management tool for physicians and other healthcare users. Both (TM), not yet (R), since we are in the capital-raising mode. In conclusion, do you like the company name: bioZhena Corp.? Thank you, Vaclav http://www.linkedin.com/in/vaclavkirsner
Posted at 12:57 pm

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