Selecting a brand name for your service or product has become a pretty daunting task these days. The name has to be meaningful, catchy, easily memorable, and short. Also since it is imperative that the product or service must have a website of its own, the domain name for that brand must be available, especially the dotcom one along with other top-level domains. It is challenging to address all these issues and come up with the ideal brand name finally.
I used to offer brand naming service. The service was simple- give me a brief about the business or product that you want to get named; I will give you name suggestions. And, all the name suggestions will be available for .com domain registration. I continued this service until I got busy with other stuffs. Along the way, I have learned a few things about how to find out a good brandable name with available domain quickly. Before sharing my insights about the process of coming up with brand names, I would like to show you a list of name suggestions that I generated for a broad range of services and products. In this list, I have only included the suggestions that were not selected and still available for domain registration. If you find a name suitable for your business and like it, feel free to use it (a short ‘thank you’ note will be appreciated in this case).
|Anxiety relief service||Whatpanic, Blowanxiety, Neverblu|
|A software that tracks and collects information that is used for legal negotiation||Truclu, Prooftrac, Negotimate, Conclued, Anygotiate|
|A web-based learning program focused on enhancing individual’s skills||Skillmoz, Yourons,Gladvance, Constaglow|
|Luxury residential homes||Iconabode, Deluxeheights, Azurevil|
|Online money making system (client required the word ‘cash’ to be in the name)||Cashadept, Cashmodo, Cashscriber|
|Highway convenience store||Jiffstop, Allwaystore, Quicksto|
|Transcription service provider||Verbatimate, Omniscriber, Typexperts, Keystorms|
|Sales Outsourcing company||Proandfit, Windexed, SharpIncline|
|Personal Fitness Training||Repsroom, LiveShaped, Fitfol.io, WeSpartan|
|Online Dating Service||Gustwo, Ardorise, Hookalike|
|Online money transfer service||Payssion , Instapurse, AptWallet, Cashmium|
|Property development company||Plexoplus, Omnidoma, Approximi|
|App that provides fishermen with statistical data||AnglerStat, Fishinmate, Anglerytics|
|Directory Listing Website||Includit, Leenko, Piledon|
The Process I Follow
If I am in the right set of mind and have a detailed understanding of a business, I can come up with 10 or more names within one hour or so. My process is pretty simple. All it requires are paper, pencil, and a PC with internet connection. Here’s the step by step process.
Step 1: Understand the Business
The first step is to understand what the business is about. I usually ask the client to give me a brief with details about the service, the mission, the target market and of course, if the client has any specific word or set of words in her/his mind. I read the brief at least three times and make sure that I have understood it properly.
Step 2: Research on Related Businesses
Now that I understand what the business is about, I look up in the internet for other company names within the industry. It helps me to find our related words and come up with new ideas.
Step 3: List All Relevant Words
Next step is listing all the words that I found to have something to do with the business. I use plain paper and pencil to write down the words. I create two lists of words: one for root words and one for associating words. Root words are those which express the core idea of the business. And the associating words are the ones that are related to the business process in some way. For example, for an Online money transfer service the root words can be: Pay, Payment, Cash, Money etc. For this service, the possible associating words are Wallet, Purse, Transfer, Happiness, Joy etc.
Step 4: Generate Names
After getting my list ready for use, I start playing with the words I have on the list. I make compounds, form portmanteau, use spelling variations, use synonyms and look for any possible meaningful alteration of the words
Step 5: Check for Domain Availability .
When I formulate 20 or so names, I start checking them for domain availability. For this purpose, I use Domize. DomainTyper is another pretty neat tool that you can use. I keep the names which are available for dotcom domain registration and make a separate list with the names that are already taken.
Step 6: Create More Names
Next step is to work on the second list. I try to come up with variations of those names and check the availability. In the meantime, the insights that I get from domain availability checking help me to formulate more names. When I feel that I have a list of enough name suggestions, I stop.
Step 7: Filter and Get the Final List Ready
The last step is filtering. Now I have a list of 20 to 25 names and all of them are available for domain registration. After the filtering, there will be only 10 names remaining. I try to be as objective as possible during the filtering process since I tend to fall in love with every name idea I come up with. For filtering purpose, I judge each name against a few questions:
- Is this name relevant to the business?
- Is the name memorable?
- Is the name has a visual connotation which can be translated into a beautiful logo?
- Is the name short? (Names within 8 letters can be considered as short, and for some businesses, length of the name can be ignored)
So, that’s the process in brief that I follow. However, one important part of the process is missing here. That is, the process of generating possible brand names. I follow a few techniques for this purpose, all of which are widely used by companies to make successful brands.
Using real word
Unless you are extremely lucky, you will not find an available domain with a real word. But it is always a good idea to use a real word to name your business cause people tend to remember the real words more than they do remember the made up or fictitious words. Examples of such brand names are Apple, Adobe, Indeed, Multiply, Live etc.
Making compound words
Compounding words are formed with the association of two words. You can try to form new words mixing two or more (preferably two) words together and choose the best ones from those. Firefox, WordPress, NetVibes, SalesForce etc. are some examples of compounding brand names. In the list above, you might have noticed that I used some compounding words such as DeluxeHeights, WhatPanic, JiffStop etc.
Portmanteau is a widely used technique for forming brand names. Portmanteau is a blend of two words formed with adding parts or whole of those words. Microsoft is a famous example of portmanteaus which is formed with Micro from Microcomputer and Soft of Software. Other famous portmanteau brand names are Skype (Sky+ peer-to-peer), Wikipedia (wiki+ encyclopedia), Technorati (Technology+Literati), Groupon (Group+Coupon) etc. In my list, I have given examples of quite a few portmanteau as well. Some of them are Truclu (True+Clue), Negotimate (Negotiate+Ultimate), Anygotiate (Any+Negotiate), Cashscriber (Cash+Subscriber), Quicksto (Quick+Store), Typexperts (Typewriting+Experts), Windexed (Win+Indexed), Omnidoma (Omni+Domain), Yourons (You+Neurons).
You can change a name in such a way so that it sounds alike but adds a second meaning to the word. Writely, a pun of Rightly, is a good example of this technique. However, instead of using a pun, i.e. a homonym of the original word, you can also use a clever twist of the word as well. For example, LoJack is the name of a stolen vehicle recovery system which is twisted from Hijack, the act of stealing. In my list I have mentioned a few puns such as Gustwo (a pun of Gusto), Conclued (a pun of Conclude, it also refers to the act of concluding a con act with evidences or clues), Payssion (a pun of Passion) and Hookalike ( a pun of Lookalike).
Spelling in a different way
The difference between spelling variations and puns is that in case of spelling variation the new word does not signify any second meaning. A lot of web-based businesses have misspelled words as their names such as Google (Googol), Flickr (Flicker), Digg (Dig), Topix (Topics), SyFy (Sci Fi), etc. There are three main trends of creating misspelled words:
1. Omit vowels
Omitting vowels has been quite popular lately cause it helps to create memorable names with available domains. Flickr and Tumblr are two most popular example of this trend.
2. Replace letters
There’s another trend of replacing letters which are visually similar. For example, replacing ‘u’ with a ‘v’ is quite commonplace now. For instance, Svpply is the name of an online store and Svbtle is the name of a WordPress theme. Other examples of brand names created by letter replacement include Zoho (Soho), Zune (Tune), and Wii (We).
3. Use same letter multiple times
Using the same letter multiple times is another technique to form spelling variation. I personally don’t like this approach since I think it is confusing. Ffffound is an example of this practice.
Using phrases is another way of coming up with brandable names. Linkedin and Stumbleupon are two great example of how phrases can produce good brand names. There are other organizations with names built upon phrases such as SimplyHired, SecondLife, iLike etc. In my list, I suggested ‘Piledon’ as the name of a directory listing service. I guess the reason is obvious.
Adding a prefix or suffix
In the current world of abundant start-ups and new apps everyday, coming up with a name is really a huge challenge. A lot of people are adding prefix or suffix with a core word to form brand names. Some commonly used prefixes are:
- Insta (Instagram, Instapaper)
- Ever (Evernote, Everplaces)
- You (YouTube)
- Any (Anydo, Anybeat)
And some widely used suffixes are:
- Ly (Bitly, Grammarly)
- Press (wordpress, cafepress)
- Modo (Pagemodo)
- Fy (Storify)
- Moz (SEOmoz)
Forming meaningful new words
Another technique is forming meaningful new words applying one or more techniques mentioned above. For example, Vimeo is formed by blending Video and Me together but it is not exactly a portmanteau. Other examples of this technique are Twitter, Diigo, Fiverr etc. In my list above, I have mentioned some names made through this method such as Leenko (from Link) and Proandfit (from Profit, also refers to the state of being professional and fit).
Using meaningful words from other languages
When English is not sufficient, why don’t you look for words from other languages? There are lots of short, meaningful and relevant words that you can use as brand name. A number of businesses are using this method to come up with the name. Zagat, the restaurant review website took the name from Sanskrit where Zagat means the universe. Ubuntu is a word from Nguni language which means a humanist philosophy of global unity.
A brand name can be created by abbreviating the original name or some words. For example: AOL is the abbreviation of America Online and KFC is Short form of Kentucky Fried Chicken. A recent example of web start up with abbreviated name is IFTTT which means IF This Then That.
Generating meaningless new words
When none of the above mentioned method will help you, you can go crazy and form new words that mean nothing at all. A lot of business names are actually meaningless gibberish. But surprise, if the name is short, sweet and memorable, it may become a successful brand name. Some web ventures named with this method (if you call it a method) are Meebo, Bebo, Ning, Zynga etc.
Now I should rest my case. Before that, I would like to mention that if you need help with naming your business or product or app or anything (except babies, I am bad at naming new-borns), you can contact me. Though my brand naming service is now defunct, I will be happy to play with words sometimes.
About Iftekhar Inan
Digital marketing professional, works with websites and individuals to enhance their online exposure. Writes about issues related to digital marketing.