How to Create a Company Name

A Step by Step Guide

I’ve started a “venture” of my own recently, and it’s getting really tiring, not to mention time-consuming, referring to it as “that project I’m working on with X person about Y thing.” Even within the team, we don’t know what to call our meetings, planning docs, etc. Whether it’s out of this kind of sheer desperation, or because you need to start marketing, fundraising, creating a website, etc., at some point in starting a business, that discussion of what you’ll call yourself becomes a necessity. [💡MINWO Moment: MINWO was lovingly referred to as “Operation: ()” before we found our name.]

If you’re not one of the lucky business owners whose name came in a revelation in the shower one morning, here are some steps you and your team can take to narrow in on a descriptive, unique, and exciting name for your company:

________________________________________

Want more content like this? Follow our social media pages:
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, Instagram

________________________________________

  1. Buy a bunch of post-it notes and find a giant blank wall. This is going to help a lot with the rest of these steps. For an eco-friendly, budget-conscious option, cut up old papers, paper bags, etc. and clear a spot on your floor to lay them out. [💡MINWO Moment: our team was 100% virtual so we leveraged online collaboration tools like Realtime Board. It gives you similar functionality, but removes the roadblock of geographical separation.]
  2. Do a stream of consciousness brainstorm of words that come to mind when you think about your company. Each word gets its own post-it. Here are some prompts to help keep the words flowing (give each question 5 minutes): What words describe your end users? What are some keywords in the field in which your company will be operating? How would you describe yourself/your founding team? What is the purpose of your company? Do your pitch for each other and write down keywords that you hear.
  3. Grab your thesaurus. Look at words that are coming up a lot and get all their synonyms on post-its, too!
  4. Start experimenting with different words and word combinations that come out of these brainstorms. Chances are a domain won’t be (affordably) available for a single word you can find in the dictionary, but what happens if you change a letter? Or merge two words/syllables together? This is where you start using your post-its: physically move your post-its to test different combinations. Put different syllables or letters on post-its and move them around. Actually seeing potential names stacked up next to each other is a great way to go. As options reveal themselves, create a “Name Waiting Room” off to the side where you can write down and store top contenders. This way, you can keep brainstorming without losing your valuable work. Generate as many names as you can and then return to the “Name Waiting Room” when you feel ready to start narrowing them down. [💡MINWO Moment: we made as many “4 word stories” as we could about our company using the words we brainstormed. This helped us then find common themes like “Minority Business”, “Women”, “Buying Power”, “Socially Conscious”, and “Awareness”.]
  5. After you’ve narrowed it down to a few options, test them out by using them when pitching your company to people you meet (come on — we know you’re always pitching your company or idea). See which resonate with people. How do they react when they hear the name? Is that the reaction you want to have? [💡MINWO Moment: we decided our name should focus on our target market. So we combined the words Minority and Women to get “MINWO”. However, you’ll see our runner up themes in our taglines “Mobilizing Minorities and Women in Business” and “Doing Business Better, Together” and throughout our website.]
  6. Look up whether this name already exists. If it does already exist, it’s possible you can still use it — either by choosing a different domain extension (a lot of companies are going this route these days) or emailing the current domain owners to see if they’re interested in selling. You never know!
  7. Make sure it’s easy to spell and say. This can’t be stressed enough. If the first reaction to hearing or reading your company’s name is “What?” or “How do you spell that?” then you’re not doing your company any favors. The name of your company should serve your brand and your purpose, not distract from it. [💡MINWO Moment: admittedly, this has been hard for us. MINWO is easy to spell, but hard for people to hear because it’s a foreign word. We’ll have to revisit it in a rebranding exercise in the future.]
  8. Make sure you love it. Do you feel confident saying the name? Does it fill you with the pride and excitement you should feel at this stage? IT SHOULD! If it doesn’t, how will you be able to summon that pride and excitement when pitching it?

________________________________________

Want more content like this? Follow our social media pages:
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, Instagram

________________________________________

[💡MINWO Moment: but wait. What happens if you already have a name? Well, it’s never too late to go through a rebranding exercise. If Sean John Combs can be “Diddy”, “P. Diddy”, “Puff Daddy”, and “Puffy”, and still be one of the wealthiest people in America, who is to say your company can’t undergo a bit of a face lift? You’ll likely see one from us in the near future!]

We’d love to hear how your company found the perfect name. What were some strategies that led you to your name? Have you hit any road bumps along the way? We’d love to help. Share your story below!


Guest Blogger — Hannah Lennett

Hannah’s work centers around bringing people together to maximize impact. As a former actress with an MBA in the works, she serves both as a creative strategist when it comes to forming partnerships and reaching target audiences, as well as an analytical mind in tracking and measuring results. She loves mountains, musicals, and, most importantly, MINWO!