Choosing a perfect company name can be daunting. Follow these guidelines for best practices!
Prologue: In this post, we leave our core focus of all things translations and embark on a more wide-reaching topic – what make a perfect company name.
Our company, Foreign Translations, has been around since 1998. We started as Mondial Translation and Interpreting but rebranded to Foreign Translations to reflect growth and a new vision. This article came about as a reflection from our General Manager Bill Labbon who asked “what’s in a name?” In other words, if you want the perfect company name, how would that process start? When choosing a name, a variety of important items – legality, branding and marketing – must be considered.
Branding: First, decide on the image you want to convey. Are you thinking serious and professional? Light and witty? Funkadelic? (Whatever that is.) The point is, your name must match your company’s personality. A company name should match the logo, branding – even the color scheme – to convey to your audience the feeling and image you want them to have. If you are unclear on your brand identity, we recommend you get this nailed down BEFORE seeking out a name. Numerous books, blogs, and websites devoted to company branding are available.
Owning your name: Second, make sure you own your name and is NOT ALREADY TAKEN – especially by someone in a similar field! You want your name to be unique. More importantly, you want to avoid copyright (or trademark) infringements, lawsuits, and the like. We recommend research with tools like Google Search and domain search tools like GoDaddy to see if your name (and domain) is available. Even if you’re a mom-and-pop company, purchase and own your domain name. They are very inexpensive – sometimes less than $20 per year!
Use (online) tools: third, use online tools like a thesaurus or scrabble word finder. For example, scrabble letters from key words/phrases in your industry to find a unique fit. Consider different angels to select the perfect name.
Your 5 Guidelines to choosing a perfect company name:
- Eponymous: named after you (or an REM album). Your name being the core (e.g. John Smith Travels). Some well-known eponymous names are Dell, Heinz, Disney.
- Metaphor/Metonymy: 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 angle derives the name from your brand (e.g. SpaceX or Century 21).
- Abstract: a catchy name that is random. There is a bit more of an advertising challenge as you aspire to build great brand recognition around an abstract name, but the category should not be dismissed. Famous examples are Apple, Google, and Amazon. Note: ‘abstract’ can be a real thing (such as an apple), but abstract in the sense that it is totally detached from your company or products.
- Mix and Match version 1 – real words: jot down key words that describe your company, main product/service, 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).
- Mix and Match version 2 -conceptual words: mix words together or try unusual word combinations – the sky’s the limit. Many online tools exist to help generate words by mashing words together, scrambling words, or combining them in unique ways. Simply do a web search for “word mixer,” then get started. 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, and good luck in creating the perfect company name!