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Six Types of New Company Names: Which One is Right for Your Business?

by Marcia Yudkin

Whether youíre trying to name a new company or rename an existing company, itís far from easy to generate a name that sounds great, looks cool, means what you want it to and sets you apart from all the competition.

Narrow down the range of possibilities by first figuring out which of these six types of names you prefer.

I. Made-up Names
Examples: Verizon, Intel, Centuria, Zumasys

People seem to either love made-up names or hate them. On the one hand, they offer a blank slate for branding Ė if youíve got the budget to hammer them into the publicís consciousness. And on the other hand, they tend to have a cold, bureaucratic, big-business and inhuman tone.

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II. Descriptive Names
Examples: 5 Minute Oil Change, Paycheck Loans,

These are no-nonsense names that make it really clear what the company or product does, but they usually cannot be trademarked. While they communicate well, they can be downright dull. 

III. Proper Names
Examples: Wells Fargo, Brooks Brothers, John Hancock, New England Estates

These can be family names, first names, geographic names and even fictional names that conjure up a specific person or a place. Proper names can be restrictive on your future expansion and make your company harder to sell. On the other hand, they can help root you in a community or highlight the founders. Theyíre especially good for local companies and common in the fashion and financial industries, among others.

IV. Suggestive Names
Examples: Greyhound, Staples, Mustang, Blackberry

Here the names feature a word or a phrase that suggests a quality with which the company or product wishes to be linked. On the one hand they can be easy to remember, spell and pronounce and highly appealing to the public. They also lend themselves to vivid logos, but it may be hard to find a good one thatís not already in use by a giant in another industry.

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V. Compound Names
Examples: MailChimp, DieHard, YouTube

Popular for online companies, these involve taking two disparate ideas and combining them. Each element is recognizable in the compound, but there may be one element that carries most of the meaning while the other is somewhat arbitrary. They might be presented as two words or as one, and they tend to have a warmer tone than the made-up names. Some compound names suggest vivid logos, like the suggestive names, and some are a bit hard to spell or to remember.

VI. Emotional Names
Examples: I Canít Believe Itís Not Butter, Save the Children, Named At Last

Here you highlight a particular feeling, such as astonishment, compassion or relief, which tends to lend the name a lighthearted tone. Make sure that if thereís some sort of implied promise in the name, thatís a promise your company delivers on.

Since the vast majority of company and product names fall into one of the above categories, youíve made great progress when youíve identified which matches your personal preferences most and is best for your particular naming challenge.

Happy naming!

Copyright 2010 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.

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