How to Name a Company

Naming a company (or product or service) can be one of the hardest things for a company to do – no matter how big or small the business. There are so many factors to consider that it can quickly turn into a big, challenging project. But honestly, it is one of my favorite projects to undertake. The opportunity to name a company and build a brand from scratch is an honor.

Here is how to name a company based on the Marstudio process.

What are you naming?

Names generally fall into one of two categories: a company name, or a product or service name. At Marstudio, this immediately changes the way we start our research. For example, a company name is an opportunity to establish a personal connection, so we’ll often focus on the meaning behind the company owner’s name, where they grew up, or other sources of inspiration that reflect who is behind the company. For product or service name, on the other hand, we’ll usually focus more on the attributes and benefits of the product or service.

From our research, the Marstudio team draws up a very long list of potential names during one or more brainstorming sessions. Usually we go through 100-200 name ideas before whittling it down to the top 8-10.

Is the name viable?

Next, our team conducts due diligence to figure out how viable each name is in the marketplace. Before presenting recommendations to our clients, we confirm that it is:

• Original. It can be hard to tie a name to a town or city’s name, like Bethesda, because that name is already in use by numerous other companies. Trying to tie a name to something that is regionally symbolic is also tricky. Let’s say you’re in Annapolis, and are thinking of naming your company after its famous Wye Oak tree. We take into account who else is using “oak” in their name – farms, other companies in your industry, etc.

• Positive. Marstudio searches to make sure there are no negative associations with a name in the U.S. or internationally.

• Available. After checking to see if we can register the name in the state and in the U.S., we also look up the domain name to see if it’s available. This can get tricky, as short and simple names are more likely to be taken. If a client wants a three-letter word for their company name, we have to tell them to forget it – you need four or more in order to have a matching web address.

Does the name have marketing potential?

You could have the best name in the world, but it could be the worst name for marketing purposes. If it’s too long, hard to pronounce, or hard to spell, it is going to be nearly impossible to market it.

But you also want to look at the name and the brand at a high level – what is the brand’s story? When Marstudio presents name options to our clients, we dive into what each one says about the brand. We describe the name, why we like it, what it stands for. If it’s a combination of two words or a new word that we came up with, we explain the rationale.

We expand on the marketing viability, whether it has an elevator pitch built in, if it’s intuitive to say. Lastly, we help clients consider how to position the brand. What will the name look like on a business card, website, or other marketing collateral?

All of these angles are important for Marstudio to evaluate before we make a recommendation – and for you to think through before deciding on a final name.

Naming a company (or product or service) can be a daunting task, if you would like some assistance, give us a call.

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