5 Guidelines for choosing a company name

Choosing a name for your company can be a daunting task. Follow these guidelines to help you come up with some great options!

Prologue: In this post, we deviate from our core focus of all things translations and embark on a topic that is wider-reaching.


Our company Foreign Translations has been around since 1998 and our name is “grandfathered in”.  Who knows, one day we may decide to change it! This article came about when we started thinking about “what’s in a name”. If you wanted to come up with a new company name, how would that process even start!?   Choosing a name for your company must be carefully considered for a variety of very important reasons, including legality, branding and marketability.

General Tips

Branding:  First and most important, decide on the image you want to convey.  Are you thinking serious and professional, light and witty or seriously funkadelic?  (Whatever that is.) The point is, your name must match the “personality” you are after. A company name should match the logo, branding – even the color scheme – to cohesively convey to your audience the feeling and image you want them to have about you.  If you are unclear on your company’s brand identity, we strongly recommend you get this nailed down BEFORE seeking out a name.  There are numerous books, blogs and websites devoted to company branding.

Owning your name: It goes without saying – make sure your name is NOT ALREADY TAKEN – especially by someone in a similar field!  You want your name to be unique to you. Perhaps more importantly, you certainly want to avoid copyright or trademark infringements, lawsuits and such.  We recommend you perform research with tools like Google Search and domain search tools like GoDaddy to see if your name is available.  Even if you’re “just” a “mom-and-pop” entity, it is a good move to purchase and own your corresponding domain name.  They are very inexpensive – less than $20 per year!

Use (online) tools: use an online thesaurus or a scrabble word finder.  For example, say you want to see a list of words that start with “trans”, a scrabble word finder is great for doing this.

Your 5 Guidelines to choosing a name:

  1. Eponymous: named after you… your name being the core – e.g. “John Smith Travels”.  Some well-known eponymous names are Dell, Heinz, Disney.
  2. Metaphor/Metonym: come up with a clever name that easily “translates” to what you are about (sorry couldn’t help the pun). See this great article at buzzle.com on “Metonymy vs. Metaphor”.  Another good angle in this category is to derive a name that is conceptually representative of your brand. E.g. SpaceX or Century 21.
  3. Abstract:  a catchy name that is random.  There is a bit more of an advertising challenge as you aspire to build great brand recognition for this abstract name, but it is a category that should not be dismissed. Famous examples are Apple, Google or Amazon.  Note “abstract” can be a real thing, (such as an apple) but is abstract in the sense that it is totally detached from your company or products.
  4. Mix and Match version 1 – real words:  jot down key words that describe your company, main product(s) or target audience, then stare, mix, shuffle and in general play with these words and their synonyms to help come up with a name. As an example, in our industry, I could jot down words like translate, translations, professional, interpreting, translation services, quality translations and so on, then play with them to come up with choices. E.g. ProTrans, QualTrans, TranslatePro.  Real world examples: Jan-Pro, Snap-on Tools.  Alliteration is another good trick to come up with a catchy name, e.g. “Wendy’s Wings” or “Treks and Travels”.
  5. Mix and Match version 2 -conceptual words:  mix words together, try “weird” word combinations – the sky’s the limit.  There are many online tools to help generate words by mashing words together, scrambling words or combining in some other way.  Simply do a web search for “word mixer” to get started on this path.  Here are 2 sites that can help with this:
    Naque Word Mixer
    Name and word combiner

We hope this was helpful. This is obviously a short treatise on the subject. Use the links and suggestions above to learn more, and good luck!

Foreign Translations is a professional translation services company serving clients nationwide since 1998. The company specializes in language solutions in the fields of document translation, localization services, desktop publishing (DTP), OPI and much more! Using advanced software and top-notch human linguistic experts around the world, FT enables their clients to reach target audiences in the language(s) and channels deemed necessary for their success.
Contact FT today.


Categories Business, Translation Industry, Uncategorized

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