How to Choose a Company Name: A 12-Point Test

Company namingFor entrepreneurs, the importance of picking the right name for a company may rank second only to naming a child. (And it’s lot more expensive to change.)

Name consultants are paid millions each year to help decide what to call a company.

Now one has come up with a test: San Francisco naming boutique Eat My Words, which has worked for Kinko’s, Jamba Juice and other household names. It’s called the Smile & Scratch Test.

Read also: 8 common mistakes to avoid when naming your company

To test out a company’s name, first ask if it possesses these qualities:

Simple –- one easy-to-understand concept
Meaningful –- customer instantly “get it”
Imagery –- visually evocative, creates a mental picture
Legs –- carries the brand, lends itself to wordplay
Emotional –- empowers, entertains, engages, enlightens

Then scratch the name if it’s got these deal-breakers:

Spelling-challenged — you have to tell people how to spell it
Copycat – similar to competitor’s names
Random – disconnected from the brand
Annoying – hidden meaning, forced
Tame – flat, uninspired, boring, nonemotional
Curse of knowledge – only insiders get it
Hard-to-pronounce – not obvious, relies on punctuation

Choosing a domain name can be even harder. Most-short and-sweet addresses are long gone. Here are a few tips for finding a great Web-site address.


What’s your favorite company name? What names strike you as ill-fitting?