More Business Naming Ideas From Google

Google inadvertently designed a great tool for finding candidates for business names. It was the Google Keyword Tool, originally introduced to help advertisers find the most used search keywords – or the least competitive keywords – for their pay-per-click campaigns. It was also used by webmasters to perform search engine optimization so their sites could work further up toward the coveted number one position when people searched for specific “long tail” keywords.
using Google Drive to generate name candidates
Namers used it to expand their lists of name candidates because you could set the tool so that only keywords relevant to the main topic supplied by the namer would show up in the responses.

Anyway, Google is retiring this tool and replacing it with one that performs many of the same functions. It’s called Keyword Planner. I anticipate it will also be helpful in generating relevant name candidates.

On to Google Plus and Drive

But there’s another way Google has, perhaps inadvertently, provided a source of relevant name candidates. With this “underground” tool you can enter three or four names from a specific category – dog breeds for instance – and generate a quite comprehensive list of dog breeds.

The tool is available to Google Plus members. Once you log into your account you’ll see a menu bar at the top of the page. The selection you want is labeled “Drive”. (I have no idea they named it Drive.) It leads you to the set of productivity tools Google operates from the Cloud. Click on the spreadsheet icon.

Once on the spread sheet, just type three or four words from the category you wish to expand – just like the top photo on the left. Then comes the tricky part. You run your mouse over the cells containing your words while pressing the “Control” key. Release both keys and you’ll see that a small square appears at the bottom of your selection. Carefully use your mouse to select that square. The curser becomes a cross. Then simultaneously scroll down the column while holding down the “Control” key until you’ve selected 10 to 20 cells. Then release the Control key and there will majically appear 10 to 20 additional dog breeds to add to your list of name candidates.

As I’ve stated here quite often, the key, or at least one of the keys, to successful naming is to generate a whole passel of candidates from many sources. I will normally use four or five books (yes, I’m very old fashioned) as well as the many websites and web tools available to me. I’ll even use those next-to-useless name generators that abound on the Internet. The point being the more candidates you generate, the more those candidates lead you to other, more inspired candidates.

Anyway, today I’ll just thank Google for yet another naming tool it didn’t know it spawned.

Bad Business Naming : Adverbs Ending in “ly”.

Back in the day, those of us who advocated unique corporate names decried the “e” prefix. It quickly became passe with the bursting of the 1990′s Internet bubble. But those intrepid entrepreneurs today have this new trend: adding the “ly” suffix to common words.

Yes, the naming lemmings have invented lemminglys. They’ve turned nouns and verbs into adverbs by adding “ly” and finding they can register them as domain names. Yes, this is basically an Internet phenomenon.

And the cry has gone out for restraint as noted in the blog called “ValleyWag”, and the Pinterest Board by Nancy Friedman.
I join their cause. Following a trend, particularly in naming, is dangerous in several ways

Just a handful of nouns and verbs that have been transformed into adverbs to become bad corporate names.

Just a handful of nouns and verbs that have been transformed into adverbs to become bad corporate names.

The Danger of Adverbial Names

First, this is a fad that will date your name as a 2013 imitator.
Second, with so many following the trend, every name loses its uniqueness , not to mention originality.
Third, the “cleverness” of this technique will wear off very soon so that those “ly” names will all blur together in people’s minds.

I know that Internet companies must attempt to find names that others have not taken if their names are to also be their domain names. There’s no room for two or more “Doves” (one a chocolate bar, and another, a beauty soap), as Internet addresses. And because of the still-thriving business of buying and stockpiling names for sale at a later date for “big bucks”, it can cost dearly for a name that is not only customer-friendly, but also Internet-ready. So…what to do?

Take Time with the Naming Process

Begin by generating lists of name candidates – many lists from all sorts of sources. Create a set of “best practices” and “company specific” criteria. Then with your list(s), begin looking for how you can substitute characters, delete or add others, mix and meld words and do many of the other little tricks I’ve introduced in the blogs here at Business Naming Basics.

Then use your criteria to make your selections. (And I suggest NOT turning name candidate into adverbs as a major criterion).

So you may then find some disappointments when candidates are not available for your use. Be patient. Create more lists Review candidates that didn’t make the first cut. Modify some more. Add some more.. Call for reinforcements if necessary. Give it time.
You want a name that will last over time, that will still be fresh, albeit familiar by then. Because it is so important for your immediate and future success, spend time now getting it right.

The Four Phases of Business Naming

When you begin the naming process it can be helpful to break the process into four distinct components.

Those four phases in sequential order are: preparation, generation, evaluation and registration. Each is distinct, calling for different mindsets.

Preparation

Preparation is best performed by creating a naming brief. That is a document normally derived from your business plan. It sets down those considerations from a strategic point of view that will influence the next phase i.e. name candidate generation.

Preparation also includes a definition of exactly what you are naming. Quite often, an entrepreneur will look for the company name to also be the name of a product or service. At this stage, it is important to look ahead to try to determine if there will be any conflicts or confusion as new products and services are introduced. Any taboos or prejudices about names should be documented here as well. And a set of naming criteria should be included.

The point is the naming brief is to give clear direction to those involved in the name generation phase of naming. Insightful input provided at this stage will ensure more relevant name candidates.

Generation

For most folks name candidate generation is the fun part of naming. But for some it is pure hell. I believe it is essential to generate a great number of name candidates, and when you are through, develop even more. Therefore many sources and techniques for generating candidates are recommended. These range from web based word generators to common reference books; from brainstorming to mind map development.

Once you have a basic candidate list you can go over it and select certain words that could be further manipulated. Quite often the best candidates are the last ones generated. They will be found to be more innovative and unique, partially out of desperation and partially out of inspiration.

Once you have a list of at least 200 candidates, you’re ready for the next phase

Evaluation

Part of the naming brief that you created in the preparation phase should contain your name criteria. These criteria can be generic in the form (short, memorable, unique) or they can be very specific to your business. I suggest that each criterion that you invoke should be weighted. Then as you evaluate the most promising names, you apply these weighted evaluators to each name. Below is a sample of a chart which I find find valuable in evaluating candidates.

Assign weights to each attribute, then assign a rating to each candidate and muliply the weight by the rating and add all the rows to score each candidate

Assign weights to each attribute, then assign a rating to each candidate and muliply the weight by the rating and add all the rows to score each candidate

Another aspect of evaluation is determining whether or not the candidates you like are available to you. If you are planning to only do business locally, you must check your state records for your chosen name. This can normally be accomplished by going to your particular state’s website under State Department or Commerce Department. There you can enter candidate names and get feedback as to their availability. A list of those sites is available here.

You will want to check the as well to determine if your name candidate is registered as a trademark by someone else in your particular product classification.

Registration

Once you have chosen a name and determine that it is available for your use, you’ll want to register it. Although it is possible for you to incorporate your business without one, I suggest engaging an attorney or a company whose business is helping small businesses incorporate. There could be a lot to consider, especially if you plan to do business in more than one state. One resource to help you with registrations is LegalZoom. They provide very reasonably priced services (from which I receive a commission if you were to click here and ultimately do business with them).

Summary

So you begin by wearing your strategic hat while preparing your naming brief. Then you put on your creating hat to generate a large list of name candidates. Then you switch to your judgmental hat while evaluating those candidates. The last part of the evaluation phase and for the registration phase, you will want to wear your administrative hat.

There is a lot involved in each phase and I’ll be covering each subsequent posts. State tuned. You might want to subscribe to my RSS feed .

Related Blogs

Choosing your business name is a fundamental – Business Plan Help …
Corporate Identity Series :: Naming Your Business :: Corporate …
How to Name Your Company
How to check for name conflicts – Marketing MO
What Should You Name Your Company? | Small Business Marketing Blog …
CatchThis: The Company Naming and Product Naming Blog » Blog …

When Naming Companies, Watch for Foreign Faux Pas.

Business naming can be a hazardous activity.

There are hundreds of examples of names that were screened and approved, only to find after investing in branding the name that to contain objectionable translations or obscure meanings that are derogatory. Chevy’s Nova in Brazil means impotent Another name, I forget which one, turned out to be related to a fifteenth-century demon who ravaged women.

Naming IssueSo to help namers alleviate (not eradicate, just make the odds better) the problem, A service called www.Globalnaming.com was formed in 2010. Here you can enter a name candidate and the software will search it’s several databases of foreign slang and “dirty” words, thesauruses and dictionaries, and then indicate possible problems.

Very easy to navigate and to use. The deliverable is a pdf report.

One caveat: the name creation function on the site leaves much to be desired. In fact, I found it very limited and limiting.

Unique Business Naming is Hard Work, Long Hours

Business naming, when done “professionally”, is not a matter of days. Quite often there’s a six-month or more time range for brand name generation, approval and registration.

One reason for the length is that professionals (and usually their clients) know that the best and most unique corporate names come from the process of acquiring, developing, rearranging, combining, truncating and in other ways manipulating a myriad number of words, prefixes, suffixes, word roots, phonemes, expressions, clichés, idioms, descriptions, locations and symbols.

business naming resources

That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? And a lot of time and effort expended

It just indicates the lengths they go to in order to produce a really stunning brand name that meets all the client’s criteria, and still lives up to the professional’s standards.

Good business names come from long lists, hard work and inspiration..

Those in the naming business have learned two basic things about the creative process of naming.

First, they know that the longer the list of naming components and of name candidates, the more creative fodder there is to harvest. It provides more opportunities for cross fertilization. It doesn’t matter if most of the ideas on paper are unusable as a name because even the most ungainly phrase can trigger an inspiration.

Second, the more often a list is perused, the more likely more ideas will be generated that can be added to the mix. More ideas help form different perspectives and fresh insights. Quite often the really good names don’t show up until the third or fourth iteration.

Business naming takes time, but it’s worth it

If you’re planning to develop a great corporate name, I suggest you follow the steps below:

Anticipate at least a two months and an hour of your time every day to both administer and create lists of name candidates and potential naming components (suffixes, etc.).

Develop a set of criteria for naming the company.

Identify resources to help you in your quest for volumes of name ideas. There are many, even though some are elusive and out-of-the-box. They range from a common thesaurus to Internet lists such as bird names and paint colors.

Engage others in your organization, and/or your family and friends, to generate name candidates, spend time at the library, compile lists, and contribute during naming sessions.

Brain storm with your team to develop more candidates, but not to evaluate them.

Begin winnowing out the chaff, but do so one at a time as you ask yourself if the losers spark more ideas

Once the list gets down to 20-30, begin to measure them against your written criteria.

Have one more brainstorming session before making a final decision because at this point your team will have had time to “digest” all the fodder and perhaps a new, inspired candidate or two will emerge.

Check your final candidates for availability.

So as you can see, this amount of thoroughness and hard work will take time, but time well worth the taking if you are convinced that a company name is one of your most valuable assets.

Oh, yes, one way to make this process less stressful and less complicated is to hire a good naming company. Like Signature Strategies.

Naming a Business After a Song? Try It!

Business naming can often settle into a rut.

You’ve exhausted your normal resources and nothing’s sparked. Time to try, as Monty Python used to say, “Something completely different”.

Here’s one idea: see if song titles (or film or show titles) could kick-start the process. Fortunately, there’s web-based resource that allows you to review thousands of song titles, over 150,000 to be approximate. The site is dbopm, short for Database of Popular Music, and you can reach it by clicking here.

Once there, click “Search the Database” on the left, then whichever media type – song, show, film you want – and search for the link that displays titles by year. Select a year and start browsing. There may or not be actual name candidates sitting there for the pickin’, but you never know. But just doing the exercise will stir up the creative juices.

For instance, under song title copyright date 1913, I found this title: Carancho on the first page. It’s a tango, but what if I were naming an auto repair shop? Right on, huh?

You can also search by a word you’d like to be included in a title. I selected “King’s” as a search term and came away with nine titles including King’s Favorite and King’s Horses, either of which might be a name candidate or idea-prompter.

Another thing about song titles: they cannot be protected under copyright laws, so it’s okay to use them.

Like a lot of resources, Internet-based and others, you may come away with no inspired name candidates, but the search itself will broaden your perspective and just might get you out of an ever-deepening rut.

Naming a Business After Oneself – the Easy Way Out

Naming a business after the owners is commonplace, particularly for service providers.

There are two main reasons people name their company’s after themselves – it’s easy and there’s an ego involved.

The name, particularly if it’s comprised of two or three partner’s names, like most law and accounting firms, is usually available and possibly trademarkable. And it takes very little creativity to name a business after oneself. What’s more, the business can be named quickly so the founders can get on with the important things. They probably spend more time picking office furniture than they do naming their business.

personal names for namers

10 branding firms named for their founders

Ego is a little more complicated reason for the owner naming the business after themselves. Very seldom will the owner acknowledge that having a business named after oneself is an act of ego-stroking. Their response when asked usually has to do with the name having a “certain reputation in the field”. Then they might also allude to the fact that most professional service providers use the principal’s name. It’s, well, professional.

Little thought is given to an “exit plan”. Selling a business that’s named for someone else doesn’t appeal to other ego-driven professionals, nor do buyers see that they gain any equity by carrying on under someone else’s name.

There is a trend, even in the medical community, to do business under a name designed to evoke a positive feeling about the entity, and to differentiate on factors other than the founder’s reputation. I believe it’s healthy and beneficial to take the time and make the effort to name a professional service provider by a name that sets the organization, not the individuals, apart.

Oh, another group of professionals guilty of using founder names? Branding consultants.

Goodness gracious. Think they’d advise their clients to do the same?

Business Naming Using Unusual Letter Combinations

There are several letter combinations that are unusual for word beginnings. Unusual, but not so foreign that folks don’t know how to spell and pronounce the words in which those combinations normally appear. I call them bi-letters

So what are some of those bi-letters that can help you create unique names? First, they’re all consonants. Second, they’re not Anglo-derived. Here are those I’ve identified along with a common word using them.

Cz czar
Dh dharma
Dj Djakarta
Dw dwarf
Gh ghost
Gn gnarl
Kh khaki
Kl klieg
Pn pneumonia
Ps psychic
Pt ptarmigan
Rh rhythym
Ry rye

There are two approaches to using bi-letters as name beginnings.

First, go through your list of descriptor words you’ve already identified as appropriate to what you’re naming and look for those with the same sound as one of the bi-letters. Note that the first letter after the bi-letter should be a vowel. This is an example of deliberate misspelling to achieve uniqueness.

mispelled names using bi-letters

Mispelled names using bi-letters


Second, just add a vowel and a consonant after a bi-letter to form a new, short word that could become a coined name, or the first syllable of potential name. This technique creates coined words that people can read and pronounce with confidence.
four-character coined names using bi-letters

Four-character coined names using bi-letters


Whenever you come across bi-letters, put them in your naming aids notebook.

(Don’t have a naming aids notebook? If you’re planning to name more than one business, product, service, event or destination, I suggest your begin one now. If it’s a 3-hole notebook, you can go through these blogs and copy and print the tips I’ve provided. That would be a pretty good beginning.)

Renaming? Go All the Way!

Quite often an organization will want to change its name.

There are several valid reasons for changing your company’s name.

1) A name change might be sought because the company has outgrown their old name, that is the name has become irrelevant (Radio Shack).

2) The company’s reputation might have been sullied to the point no salvation (Enron).

3) Perhaps the name itself has taken on an undesired life of its own (Aids).

4) Legal conflicts with Trademark holders that dictate changing the name.

5) Mergers and acquisitions where confusing or conflicting situations arise either in the marketplace or internally.

6) A “nickname” based upon the original name becomes so dominant the company is practically forced to officially adopt the nickname (IBM, FedEx).

There are probably other reasons, but these six predominate.

The management mind-set is different in each of these situations.

But let’s just concentrate on the first situation: an outmoded name. In 1), management is perhaps reluctant if not conflicted about making a change. They see equity in the name. They don’t want to confuse customers. This may also apply to managements in the 4) and 5) situations, but probably not to the same extent.

Renaming: an example of blinders thinking

Changing a name - but not very much


What often happens is that management believes they must “transition” from the old name to the new, that they should retain part of their old name, or at least associate with it in some way. The outcome is usually a weak and often confusing name that neither retains old, desirable associations, nor defines a new “role” for the organization.

By not being open to a name that might signify new directions, new markets, new opportunities, they limit the potential of a new name that’s more relevant to the company’s vision and mission. So Radio Shack becomes The Shack.

Here in Colorado there was a “home for wayward boys” called Colorado Boys Ranch. As it evolved, it catered to a nationwide clientele of boys and girls, and became much more “high-tech” than a ranch. To “transition”, they used the initials CBR coupled with a generic phrase that was much too abstract to mean anything. Now, except for long-time donors who still call it Colorado Boys Ranch, there is no identity for this fine organization.

By attempting to hold on to old equity and placate stakeholders, yet reflect what the organization has become, managements inhibit and restrict creativity and the chance of adopting a name with gusto.

You can’t have it both ways.

Business Naming Using Common Roots

I’ve not been a raving fan of completely invented words as names for products or companies.
However, I do find some forms of coined names desirable.

Those are names which start from a root word that is relevant to the product, service or business being named. For instance, if you’re marketing a new telephone device, I can advocate a name using the root, “phone” or “fone”.

The reason, as I’ve stated previously, is that people don’t like new words. They are comfortable with the familiar. So to make a name with a familiar root and with some coined “flair” to go with it produces comfort, easy pronunciation and meaning almost instantly.

It’s providing the flair that makes the name unique, and possibly trademarkable.

Here’s another way to create that flair.

Start with a vowel-ending root

Let’s say you want to concentrate on four-letter names in the form consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. You’d do that because the form provides a short, easily pronounced (in almost any language) and easily spelled name: just perfect if you’ll be looking for referrals. And of course, you’d want that four-letter root to be relevant to your naming project.

Here are three such words we can use as examples: rare, cape and mesa

Now you can try two different approaches to begin with.

Substituting ending vowels

First, substitute other vowels for the last vowel in each root word. This retains the four-letter cvcv format so pronouncing and spelling each will be easy even if the new words are unfamiliar. Here’s what I mean:

In the first two examples, where the last “e”s are silent, we’ve added a new syllable with the substitution, but really haven’t lengthened the name. With “Mesa”, we’ve just invented a new four-character words.

Adding an additional letter

In this example we’ll just add what looks like a random consonant or vowel to the end of our original root word. However, for the roots ending in a silent “e”, we won’t add “d”, “n”, “r”, “s” or “y” because these are common, meaningful add-ons already (rarer, caped, capes).

As with any naming approach, often times they bare no fruit, but every-so-often, a gem can appear, literally out of nowhere.

This technique will also work with multisyllabic words roots as well, and can be combined with other techniques (relevant prefixes and suffixes for instance) as I’ve outlined here in the past.

So just another weapon for your ever-growing naming arsenal. Use with gusto.