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Picking a Company Name
Date 7/27/2009    Tags Advise    (0)

I've always struggled with coming up with a good company name when the time comes for a company name. It's hard to find a good name and even when you do, someone else may have already taken it (or someone is squatting on the domain name for it).

Currently I'm narrowing my choices down to a few for my game company. For my web design company, I ultimately choose to include my last name in it (largely based on time constraints), though I've never been totally happy with that decision (I don't do much web development on the side anymore though, so I haven't looked heavily into changing it).

I'd like to share a few of the techniques I use to try and come up with a good name so maybe those of you out there in the same boat might have an easier time.

  1. Think about what your company will really strive to do. Will you be an innovator, will you strive to have the best customer service ever, will you pride yourself by baking the best muffins in town? Write down a list of all the words you can use to describe these things that will be the core of your business. You can also liberally include a few words in this list that you think are "cool", even if they don't truly describe your core business.

  2. Look at other areas for inspiration... media, TV, newspapers, etc. I found the word "infused" on my shampoo bottle... I kinda like that.

  3. Avoid words that are hard to pronounce or spell. People aren't going to remember your company name if you use one of these... rather they'll remember you as the company they can't say or spell (if they can't spell it, they're going to have a tough time finding you online).

  4. Don't name your company anything related to "Edge" unless you want to be threatened with a lawsuit by crazy Tim Langdell. To avoid a huge hassle, just remove "edge" from your list now.

  5. Once you have this list (minus the word "edge"), go through it and see if any of these words really feels (sounds) good for a company name. If no single name fits, try combining a few together and see if those combinations work. I actually wrote an application that lets me input all the names I'd like to try and then it returns a list of those names in every possible combination (but I'm crazy, I don't expect you all to do that too).

  6. You may also want to try combining two words into one. It's a lot easier to find a made up word that isn't in use by someone else than it is to find real words that are not. Just make sure your made-up word makes sense and isn't too hard to understand.

  7. Once you have your prospective name, check whether or not someone else is using it. Google (or Bing) is a good place to start. After that, search the US trademark database (for US companies obviously) to make sure someone else hasn't registered your name. You may be able to use the same name as someone else if they are in a different industry as long as its a common name and doesn't cause confusion (don't try to use Microsoft as your company name, even if you're making bird feeders)... you may want to check with an attorney though to verify that this is okay, what I say is generalization more than legal advise (I have but four credits worth of legal training to my name). Or better still, use a different name.

  8. If you're a company that is going to make spaghetti, I would strongly suggest using the name "Spaghetti Yeti". I would totally buy that spaghetti if I saw it on the grocery shelf (as opposed to "Spaghetti Bigfoot" and "Spaghetti Lock Ness Monster", which would remain to gather dust). You're free to use that name, no royalties to me required (unless you want to send them), just give me credit somewhere<

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