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How Businesses Choose Their Company Names

Choosing a name for a new company or brand is a difficult process. A company will spend heavily on marketing its brand, so it needs to make sure it gets it right.

Businesses often turn to naming consultants to come up with the perfect name. These professionals have just one job: find the right name for their client’s business. As such, these consultants live and breathe business naming strategy.

By studying what they do, you can become a better namer. This is helpful if you are trying to come up with your own brand.

It’s also helpful if you’re a domain name investor. Domain investors need to understand what types of names companies will want to use in the future, and can use the same process and tools that the best namers use to think of these names and acquire them now.

A Long Naming Process

Professional namers take various approaches to creating names. They often generate massive lists of names before choosing the right ones to present to clients.

In a podcast interview, Eli Altman, Creative Director of naming company A Hundred Monkeys, explained that he generates 600-1,000 name ideas on a first pass!

It’s not a simple as just brainstorming. A lot goes into the process.

Altman’s team interviews people at the client business to understand the goals and parameters. For example, he might ask, will the brand be used in multiple countries? He also wants to understand how the name can be most effective in building the company’s brand. Not everything a company stands for needs to be the central theme of the name. 

“Just because…it’s important for your brand to communicate something like trust,” Altman explained, “that doesn’t mean that’s an effective thing for you to name around.” 

For some naming projects, Altman’s team has to do extensive research. They might review dictionaries and literature related to the topic to understand the language. In other cases, such as naming a new bar, the naming process might be more free-spirited. 

Altman said that coming up with a name is the easy part. He also has to consider which ones are legally viable and which ones meet the client’s objectives. This involves searching on Google and speaking with an intellectual property attorney. They do some trademark checks and cultural checks if needed—which is why it’s important to know in which locations the brand will be used.

That list of up to 1,000 names? By the time it’s presented to clients, it might be just a dozen options.

Coming Up with Your Own Names

The naming process is quite involved. It’s difficult; that’s why people pay naming consultants for their help. 

computer generating list of company names

You can pretend to be a naming consultant to get a better grasp of what types of names companies are choosing. This will help you invest in the right types of domains.

Anthony Shore of naming company Operative Words likes to describe his job simply: “I name things.”

That’s simple enough, but as we learned from Altman, a lot goes on in naming things.

Shore shared some of the tools he uses in a podcast. You can use the same tools to become a namer yourself. Here are five tools to check out:

  • OneLook.com – This tool has thesaurus capabilities and wildcarding. A thesaurus can be a namer’s best friend. Choose a topic and then look for words with the same meaning that might make great brand names.
  • Sketch Engine – This is a somewhat complicated tool that has a lot of power. It’s inexpensive and you can get a free trial.
  • RhymeZone – Find rhyming words, synonyms, adjectives, and other words.
  • MRC Psycholinguistic Database – Good for substitutions, wildcarding, etc. 
  • GoldenDict – A popular dictionary lookup program that allows you to search multiple dictionaries.

The Domain Doesn’t Always Matter

You’ve built a good portfolio of domain names. A company came up with a company name that matches one of your names, so it’s time to cash in, right?

Not necessarily. Both Altman and Shore said that the availability of a domain name isn’t always critical when coming up with a name. While they might do various checks for intellectual property along the way, some companies aren’t as concerned about domain names.

This might be a mistake, but it’s the reality. Some companies will choose a name similar to the brand or using an extension other than .com. Others don’t need a dedicated website for the brand, especially if it’s a sub-brand or new product name and the company uses its main brand name for its website.

Still, most companies care about the domain, especially small businesses that don’t have a huge budget for marketing. If nothing else, getting the “exact match” .com domain name is a nice-to-have for the company.

Get Naming

You are now armed with many of the tools professional namers use. Put your naming hat on, come up with some potential future brands, and register your names at Namecheap today.

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Andrew Allemann avatar

Andrew Allemann

Andrew is the founder and editor of Domain Name Wire, a publication that has been covering domain names since 2005. He has personally written over 10,000 posts covering domain name sales, policy, and strategies for domain name owners. Andrew has been quoted in stories about domain names in The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, New York Times and Fortune. More articles written by Andrew .

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