Recently, I wrote about the steps you can take to register your brand presence if your brand or name is already taken. This week, let’s take a step back and talk about how to choose a name in the first place.

Some company names are obvious, like the Trump Organization, named for its founder, the eponymous Donald Trump. Some lean toward describing company function, like General Motors or the search engine

Then there are more esoteric names, such as Apple, named for founder Steve Jobs’ favorite fruit. Another tactic is to find a name that describes company attributes; software company Akamai, chose the Hawaiian word for “clever,” and Samsonite is named for the Biblical Samson to connote the strength of its luggage. There are plenty of good stories behind company names.

Brainstorming Brand Names

If you’re having trouble finding a name for your company and the usual brainstorming isn’t working, try taking a tactical approach. Hirak Sen of Autoquill offered this formula on HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Forum:

Choosing a company/brand name is a challenge. I list below eight criteria that I followed while choosing my new venture’s name.

  1. Short and simple: Keep it short and simple, the shorter and simpler the better.
  2. Memorable: It should be easily memorable. The prospective customer will view it only for a fraction of a second, and within that short time the name should be stamped on the viewer’s mind.
  3. Coined word: If possible, use a coined word instead of a common word. A coined word has its own identity and is likely to enter the viewer’s mind faster and stay there longer. (Caveat – it is not easy to coin a word satisfying the requirements stated here).
  4. Associative: The name should be associate-able with the product/services the company is offering.
  5. Domain registration: The name should be available for NameDotCom registration.
  6. Trademark: Similarly, the name should be available also for Trademark registration.
  7. Logo/Icon: It is better to use the name itself as the logo/icon (example: Autodesk, HubSpot etc.). So choose a name that can be used as the company logo/icon.
  8. Social media: Check out the size of logo/icon that a social media like Twitter will permit. Try and restrict the name and logo to a small size so that it is meaningfully visible on social media pages.

It is not going to be easy to accomplish this. The way to go would be to jot down all names that come to your mind at random. Make a note as and when a name flashes through your mind. Then arrange these in order of your preference. Shortlist the top five/three. Take the opinion of a few friends. Go for the final name.”

Do you have advice on how to create a name for your company?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.