Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What Makes a Good Company Name?

Companies, of course, put a lot of thought into what to name their company. It may seem like a simple task, but it can be harder than you think to come up with an original, concise name that people will remember.

This post discusses the 10 types of company names and the pros and cons of each. It gives some insight into what you need to think of when naming a company.

When I was a senior in college, I started an educational technology company with a couple of friends of mine from Walker. Our product was a website that would help all parts of a school community to communicate with each other efficiently (students, parents, teachers, etc.). The name we chose for the company was "learnection." It fits under the "Blends" category from the blog post I link to above -- like Microsoft and Netscape, it is a blend of two words: "learning" and "connection."

At the time, it seemed like a good, simple name that was halfway creative. However, there were several problems with the name after we looked back on it. First, it does not really roll off your tongue, and people were not always sure how to pronounce it when they read it the first time. When you think of the successful internet companies, it is abundantly clear how to pronounce Microsoft, eBay, Google, Apple and Amazon. Also, when writing "learnection" in certain fonts, the lower-case "L" at the beginning of the name would look like an upper-case "I" and that would really confuse people. Now, those considerations are not why the business did not last more than a couple of years, but it probably would have helped our marketing to have a simpler, catchier name.

What do you guys think makes a good company name? Can you think of any companies that succeed despite having an awkward or confusing name?

(Source: Guy Kawasaki's Blog)


Anonymous said...

when it comes to names of companies especially on the internet, i too believe that shorter and easier is better. I also agree that it should be catchy or have some way of being able to stay in people's head. I tried to think of a company's name that is very long, but all of the consumer companies i thought of have very short names and simple names like Kinkos, Starbucks, QT. I think companies that work with other companies can afford to have longer more serious names and it may benefit them, but for the companies that are targeting everday americans the names have to entice them. It almost could be considered offensive that the companies feel their names have to be smart and witty to get out attention, but at the same time it may be true.


Anonymous said...

Company names definietly have to be easy to pronounce. In order for people to remember your company an easy, catchy name is important. If someone asks where the best coffee is, and they can't remember how to say or spell your companies name, then it is going to hurt your profits. Companies like yahoo and google do well because their names are unique so people remember it, easy to spell and perhaps fun for people to type. One odd company name is Häagen-Dazs, it is impossible for people to spell, but it is easily remembered because of its uniqueness.

Anonymous said...

i agree with both hope and seth in the fact that the name must be catchy and easy to say but i think there is more to naming a company. I think the business you are in has a lot to do with your name. for example a fast food place or restaurant can have a goofy name like Beef o bradys but a fancy five star restaurant probably wouldnt want that name for obvious purposes. ive noticed with high end restaurants that the name is usually pretty short or in a different language (Grazi, Nava, Pricci, 103 west etc...) Also with companies you dont want a goofy name that makes your buyer think your not classy. nemonic names seem to work well too. if you can take the first letter of the creator's name and make a word such as HOGAN (real construction co.) then no only is it short but a client could easily remember the head employees names. company success depends a lot on the name
-Austin L

Anonymous said...

I believe that a name can make or break a company, especially with restaurants. Restaurants such as Bahama Breeze have cool names and it sounds pleasant to say. But, from personal experience, restaurants like Beef O' Brady's actually deters me away from eating there. I'm sure the food is good, but I'm not very partial to the name. Hope's example of Haagen Dazs is great. I like names such as iTunes and ebay. They are catchy and they are very easy to remember. But names that are too complicated or difficult such as "learnection" can be very difficult to remember and to accurately tell someone else about. A big part to a company's success is in the name

-Chris Templin

Anonymous said...

I don't really agree with Chris's comment of how a company's name can either make or break them. However, I do believe it is very important. While (like Seth and Hope said) a company's name should be easy to pronounce, I also believe that it should be catchy simple. and so We go to a very educated school and the enviroment in which we are surrounded by leads us to make contact with many above average and intelligent people (well, most of the time). However, becuase of this surrounding, I often think that we are blind to the fact that the majority of the country is not very well educated. To go to college is a privilage. Therefore, name should be short, simple, and pronouncabale in order for the uneducated to catch on. For example, Star-bucks. I would assume that there is only one way to pronounce that. And I also agree that google is a cool name.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what Chris said about the name of a place making you interested in going there or feel like staying away. Espically with computer companies, because if you think about it the most succesful companies or even different types of computers have simple easy names. Example; iMac, Power Book, VAIO, and iPod. If a place has a name that is confusing to you or you have trouble pronuncing then you might not tell other people about it because it would just be easier to suggest something else along the same lines with an easier name.


Anonymous said...

I agree, I think that a big part of the success of a company is found in its name. One thing that I noticed when reading the other blog’s is that all of the companies that were talked about were commercial businesses. This idea made me notice that there are some industries where the name doesn’t really matter, like the technology industry where companies like Avaya and Cisco are extremely popular. I also think that when a company can make its name with as few letters as possible it stands a higher chance of being successful. The first example that comes to mind was the company Dun and Bradstreet. In an effort to be competitive they legally shorted the company’s name to D&B. I also believe that a good company name will explain what the company does and be short enough to where people can both remember it and say it correctly no matter what part of the country they live in. Examples of companies that are successful but have awkward names in my opinion are Evian, Dasani, and Anheuser-Busch because all are hard to pronounce at first glance and hard to remember.

Ryan W

Anonymous said...

I agree with Andi on the example of iPod's name. Once they made it big with the iPod, itself, they were able to transform their name into many different others such as the iBook, etc. It's very important to have a catchy name so when people are trying to talk about your company, store, or restaurant theyre not like "oh wow they have the best food.. but.. uh i can't remember the name." It really doesn't help you out. I think that places that have people's names in their name helps out alot such as Sam's Club, Willy's, Ben & Jerry's, etc. On the other hand, places that have just one word as their name that isn't necessarily very rememberable happens to be a problem like the restaurants Canoe or Rainwater.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot to consider when deciding on a name for a company, I really never thought it would have a large impact on the success but I guess it does. Like everyone else has said, the company name should be short and simple but I also think that having a strange name could benefit a company because it is more likely that one will remember a weird or uncommon name than a rather mundane one. Austin makes a good point by saying that the nicer restaurants have a more serious/sophistcated name which is helpful in providing the customers somewhat of an idea about the type of restaurant it is. Pronunciation is key if the company wants to be talked is more likely that I am going to tell my friends about a great restaurant I went to, if i can actually say the name correctly. -Alex