This is where good branding starts. Your name determines the feeling people get when they hear about you, how successful your company may be and how people will appreciate it.

For example, the outcome of Gowalla versus Foursquare could have been predicted just on the name of the brand alone. Foursquare evokes groundedness and has a better ring to it.

Think. What is your company about? What kind of emotions does it invoke? What do your customers think about when they say your name? What do people think when they hear your company name for the first time?

Common words in their original form, spliced together, misspelled or created from sounds seem to have worked the best in the past for others.

Let’s start with a few examples to get you started.

Original

  • Amazon - named after the world’s longest river by volume and their “A-to-Z” catalog.
  • Adobe - like clay you can mold it into whatever.
  • Mint - short, easy to spell, dollars are green and so are mint leaves, a mint is also where money is made.
  • Facebook - that’s how the paper version is called.
  • Dell - simple but still good enough last name.
  • Skype

Spliced Together

  • Genentech - genetics and technology.
  • YouTube - quite descriptive and it rhymes.
  • KickStarter - name tells you what they do, and it sounds fun.
  • Pinterest - pin your interest.
  • PayPal, Wikipedia, Techcrunch, Salesforce, …

Misspellings

  • Google - according to a myth it’s a misspelling of a googol.
  • Digg - dig.com was already taken.
  • Flickr - flicker was also taken, they rolled with it.

Sounds

  • Yahoo! - exclamation.
  • Twitter - chirps from birds.

Name equals function

  • Match.com
  • Diapers.com
  • Weather.com

Things to remember.

Pick a name for which the domain name is available.

Buying a domain name will set you back a few thousands of dollars you could have saved. Just do a simple search.

Avoid names that restrict you.

A generic name may be more suited for you such as “Amazon” or “Google”. Don’t go too specific or too descriptive. A brand called “SupportCenter” can only go so far.

Confirm your name is unique enough.

Check if you would be able to have an unique username on popular social media channels. Namechk is a great tool for that.

Avoid names that are too hard to spell.

Flickr may have worked for them eventually but don’t expect people to be able to spell your name.


Put it to the test.

But first, understand your target audience.

People born and raised with the internet understand “del.icio.us” but if your target audience is busy moms then the URL is easier to remember if it’s something like “delicious.com”.

Ask their opinion.

Ask friends and/or family that fit in the target audience and ask them some questions. Write down some potential domain names.

  1. Say it to them out loud over the phone or in person and ask them to write it down. Let them do the spelling. It’s a great way to see if they would be able to get the URL without explaining or seeing it beforehand.
  2. Ask what they think when they hear each potential company name.
  3. Ask them what their favorite is.