A great business name is sticky and flexible. Whether you hear it in a crowded room or say it yourself, it resonates and remains. So what are the naming strategies behind some of the greatest companies of all time? Apple was able to make people believe that the high-tech world of personal computing was friendly and inviting by choosing a common, every day name. Samsonite created an image of strength and durability that only Samson himself could uphold. BlackBerry used our sense of touch by associating the phone and its small keyboard buttons to the drupelets that form the blackberry fruit.
There are a variety of different strategies that entrepreneurs use to create a memorable and unique name for a new business. Some strategies are more successful than others, yet they all seem to co-exist, making it important to review each type to get a feel for what is available. The dynamics behind choosing a business name are easy, but the final selection is one of the most important decisions you will make as a business owner. Your company name is the doorway to your product or service. It must be nothing short of spectacular.
With that goal in mind, here are the top 5 most common business name types, with a few pros and cons of each. If you are in the process of considering a name for your new business or thinking of renaming your current business, you can refer to this as a guide to help you navigate the world of exceptional, extraordinary and mind-blowing business names.
No. 1: The Real Word Business Name
We all recognize certain names in the English language because they have become household names. They refer to products or services we use everyday. Quaker, Shell and Twitter are familiar to us because they are real words, yet they have been given arbitrary meanings on account of being associated with very successful businesses. Sometimes new companies looking to capitalize on the familiarity of a word will choose to use a name that already exists as part of a new business name. These names are best described as Real Word business names.
Amazon, Yelp and Adobe are more examples of highly successful businesses that began by employing simple, recognizable names that grew into multi-million dollar companies. In fact, most people today would probably tell you that “Amazon” is an online retailer before telling you that it is a female warrior or river. On the downside, real words are next to impossible to obtain the.com URL for and notoriously difficult to protect. Real word business names, while easy and convenient, are not necessarily recommended solutions, despite the powerful potential for recognition.
No. 2: The Descriptive Business Name
There is no doubt that when consumers hear the name “Super Cuts” they envision that there is some cutting going on, and more than likely, it’s super. A Descriptive business name is one that essentially describes a product or service by identifying some ingredient, quality or characteristic of that product. While naming strategies that employ descriptors are easy to understand and informative, they are hardly unique, and far too common. At best, descriptive names are boring, lack appeal and in most cases, are not worthy of trademark protection.
Yet, there are a few benefits to using a descriptive name to identify your business. For one, there is no ambiguity in “All Bran Cereal.” And from a marketing perspective, sometimes it’s not so bad to be direct. At their worst, descriptive names can cause consumers to associate the business with a lack of creativity and innovation. And unless you have an unusually large budget and the ability to quickly rise above the competition, a descriptive name is a tough bet.