Five things to consider when naming your business.
What’s in a name?

John Birnsteel in Process
0 min read

Chances are good you’ve named something before. A child. A pet. Apparently 30% of us have names for our cars...

For most of us, giving something a name is a pretty straightforward endeavor. But when it comes to naming a business or a product, it’s rarely a walk in the park. Finding consensus among leadership and navigating legal pitfalls can be tricky. So the next time your business faces a naming opportunity, here are five things to consider:

  1. There is no such thing as a good name. A name is an empty vessel that only has meaning because of the reputation it earns. Enron was a great name in 2000 and a lousy one by 2001. Don’t let your search for a name, outrun your attention to your offer. 

  2. You can, however, pick a bad name. Bad names are ones that already have a negative connotation. That’s why we consider the person who rebranded the Patagonian toothfish as the Chilean sea bass a naming genius. 

  3. Is it available? There’s a reason companies these days are named Zillow, Hulu and Spotify. It’s estimated that only 2% of the words in the English language are not company names or URLs. Finding something that’s ownable can be daunting, but before you write off a name because the URL is taken, consider adding a descriptor to help make it more ownable.

  4. What did you say? As voice search continues to grow through AI channels like Siri, Alexa and Bixby, it helps to make sure people can pronounce your name.

  5. Nomen est omen. That’s Latin for name is destiny (la, di, dah!).  While it might be impossible to declare a name at face value “good,” there’s some logic behind the hypothesis of “nominative determinism”* – the idea that people (and brands?) tend to gravitate toward areas that fit their names.  

* Don’t Google this unless you want to go down a serious worm hole!


Doe-Anderson has been helping organizations build belief in their brands for over 100 years. Our naming practice has helped launch new brands including BrightSpring Health Services, Goodwood Brewing, Pruv Mobility and Côr Home Automation.

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