Every year I analyze the company naming practices of the fast growing private companies listed in the annual INC 500 issue of INC™ Magazine. Then I compare the business naming trends over time – for the past 12 years in fact – 1998 through 2009. This is a 6,000 name universe, less those that show up on the list for multiple years.
Here are a few highlights:
Names incorporating coined words increased 57-percent over the 12-year period, from 23-percent of all names in 1998 to 35-percent in 2009. Coined word names represent 30-percent of all names in the study.
Combined-word names (PowerLight, Staffworks) grew at a faster rate than other coined-word names, going from 27-percent of coined-word names in 1998 to 45-percent in 2009. It was the second most popular category behind Suggestive names in 2009.
Descriptive names decreased from 18-percent in 1998 to 14-percent in 2009. They were bested by Suggestive names in four of the past five years. Even so, they represent the most names over the 12 years.
One-word names increased by 70-percent over the twelve-year span. The number three-word-and-more names declined by 40-percent.
All-in-all, fast growing companies seem to be embracing better naming methods. Particularly the last two factoids are encouraging. Descriptive names, by and large, are indistinctive, and usually result in longer names – usually three-word names. And three-letter names will usually turn into impersonal, undifferentiating sets of initials that are hard to remember even if you might want to remember them.
Now I’m not suggesting that the companies on the INC 500 list got there because they had great names. A great many got there in spite of poor names -Utility Integration Solutions, Integrated Mortgage Solutions, SDV Solutions readily come to mind. So perhaps a company name is not a major ingredient in corporate growth, but adding a great business name to the mix sure doesn’t hurt.