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  • Writer's pictureSuzanne Anslow Gunther

What's in a name?

Updated: Feb 5, 2020

I recently had a colleague ask me to help name her relative's new greeting card business. I know what she was thinking when she asked me - "Suzanne can come up with a perfect, creative, memorable name because that is what she does." (Such pressure!)

This got me thinking...what is the best way to determine the perfect name for a company? Which led me to a quick analysis of how companies are named—see if you agree…

How to name a company

I believe there are 4 main ways to name a company. Below explains in more detail. But I would say first and foremost if you are looking to market the product through the Internet, (and who isn't?) you should choose a name that has an available URL and is easy to spell / remember. And also take a look at competitive companies to be sure to set yourself apart. And lastly everything depends on the type of company and the brand you are trying to establish. (OK, enough disclaimers.)

1. The most common way companies are named is using a family name (e.g. Wal-Mart, McDonalds). You also see a lot of professional service companies (accounts, lawyers, ad agencies) use their surname(s). This works to help identify the company as your own but it can be less creative than other naming conventions. You can play around using first name, last name, initials of name, nicknames, etc.

  • Chris’s Card Company

  • Chrissie’s Cards

  • CXY Card Company

You could also use the name of family member or a beloved pet. (Something that is personal but perhaps more fun.)

  • Fifi’s Cards

  • Buster’s Cards

You could also go with something personal or of strong interest to the person who owns the company (e.g. astrological sign, favorite flower, sports team, etc.)

  • Daisy Dream Cards

  • Capricorn Card Company

  • Cavalier Girl Cards

2. The second way companies are named is by location (e.g. Cleveland Clinic). This works if you want to be known/thought of as the company to go to in a particular geography. It also helps if people search for your company using the web (and who doesn’t?). If they type in tire companies in Akron, Akron Tire

Company will most likely come up first.

  • Akron Card Company

  • Cleveland Cards

You can get more creative by using a street name, or an address or the place that the cards are being made.

  • Sunset Street Cards

  • Screen Porch Cards

  • The Kitchen Card Company

3. The third way companies are named is by using words that describe what you do or how you do it (e.g. Quick Oil Change, Rapid Print, Shiny Car Wash). Be careful not to be too generic here.

  • Special Card Company

  • Heartfelt Cards

  • Cards of Love

  • Handled with Care Cards

  • Expressions of Love

  • Cards With a View

4. The fourth way is using made up or nonsensical names. Technology and pharmaceutical companies (as well as musical groups) are famous for this (e.g. Viagra, Cisco, Nickelback). Some people pull letters out of hat and make up a word, or put two favorite but unrelated words together or look up ancient or mythological names. I would recommend you ask your client (relative) some questions and then see if there is a theme or expression that comes up. You can then use a Thesaurus to find a word(s) that might work.

  • What are your favorite things about what you do?

  • What do you think of as you are making the cards?

  • How do you want people to feel about your cards?

  • How do you feel about making the cards?

So that is how I would tackle naming a company—a logical (and creative) approach to get your company moving in the right direction. Go through each step and see what surfaces then narrow in on what feels right!

Let me know if you have thoughts for how to best chose a name for a company.

For my company—I went with a name that says what I do (and how I do it). Because sometimes all you need is a "clevershove" to get your business moving in the right direction!

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