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Seven Tips for Creating a Company Name That Tells a Compelling Story

by Mark Skoultchi  |  
March 18, 2015
  |  5,282 views

A good company name doesn't have to tell customers exactly what you do. Names that hinge on a compelling narrative are often far more powerful. So approach your naming needs with the following tips in mind, and your brainstorming will be much more likely to yield a robust list of captivating names.

1. Know Thyself

Levi's, Peet's, Hewlett-Packard, and Disney are all names that allude to the history of the companies through their founders. They seek to start conversations centered on the company's origin story.

Highlighting the vision and influence of your company's founders builds an air of trust and relatability among customers. However, this strategy limits options and says little about your company's mission or positioning.

To dive into subtler naming territory, examine your founders' interests and common values. Consider the software company Asana, which refers to a restorative pose in yoga—a meaningful practice of the company's founders.


Sometimes the greatest names come from within a company.

2. ¿Cómo Se Llama?

At a namer's right hand is the thesaurus, but at a namer's left are English-paired dictionaries of many foreign languages.


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Mark Skoultchi is a partner at Catchword, a full-service naming company founded in 1998, with offices in the San Francisco Bay area and New York City. Contact Mark at 212-472-8936.

LinkedIn: Mark Skoultchi

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  • by Victoria Ipri Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    Great advice, Mark! Best naming book I've ever read: Alexandra Watkins' "Hello, My Name is Awesome". I've used it principles over and over, and now I can add your expert guidance to my knowledge base too.

  • by adPRO-Debbie Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    Great article. I'm currently trying to find a name for a candy store and this has given me some new things to think about.

  • by Victoria Ipri Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    Debbie @ AdPro- like Sweet Stuff, The Sweet Life or Sticky Fingers? Coming up with candy store names is so much fun:)

  • by Stanton Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    Certainly some good ideas for the brain storming process, but I disagree with your "Vudu" example (#5). Alternatively spelling, or intentionally misspelling (ex. Flickr), something leaves too much room for consumer confusion. Upon hearing about "Vudu" I'd take to my phone and type in "Voodoo" or "Flicker" b/c that's the word/spelling in most American lexicons...and without good/expensive SEO you'll likely fail that customer experience.

    Additionally, one thing I think people often forget to factor in before falling in love with a name is availability. Is your name available for the digital taking (e.g. web domains and the like)? I pity all First Banks of the world. A quick search of "first bank" will show you all of the overly creative ways they have to set up their web domains and social media handles. I think you can see where I'm going on this one.

    Good luck fellow entrepreneurs!

  • by adPRO-Debbie Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    @ Victoria Thanks for the name ideas. I put them on the list! And just as Staton noted... I'll check to see if they are available as a .com . I will also check to see if they can be trademarked. We were told names like Candy Cafe could not be trade marked because they were to generic. There's so much to think about. But I love naming things so it's better than a house full of animals. LOL

  • by skimonkey Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    Some good ideas here to start the naming process. I recently read another guide that takes naming to the next level: http://linkd.in/1H34LQi

  • by James Heynes Thu Aug 6, 2015 via web

    Nice read! Naming a business is so much harder than I excpected. I am currently in the process to name my new smoothie bar, can't seem to find the right name. I came across Frozen Lemons today (www.frozenlemons.com), a website that develops company name ideas based on your business idea. Can't tell yet if I am satisfied but I am definitely excited to receive the name ideas. Maybe a tip for some people here.

  • by Jenny Fri Sep 4, 2015 via web

    Great article Mark!

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