When one considers all the language and design elements that go into creating a brand for a company, by far, the most challenging is deciding on a name. And with good reason; having a perfect name can accurately communicate an incredible amount about your company, while the wrong name can give the wrong impression, or worse, make you forgettable.
After seeing thousands of company names over the years, I’ve managed to boil down the main qualities of a good company name to 4 big things:
1. You can pronounce it
You might think this goes without saying, and you would be wrong. Trust me, as a fan of words, I know how much fun it can be to play with sounds and spellings and fun word hybrids, but in the end, if your customers can’t say your company name, they won’t say it. Sometimes you need to keep word-of-mouth viability in mind, literally.
2. It’s not too long
A company name needs to be very multi-functional these days. Having an unnecessarily long name is going to limit its functionality. You don’t just have letterhead and domain names to worry about anymore; Twitter handles have a limit and a too-long name is going to leave you trying to concoct some watered-down, hard-to-remember derivative of your name. Plus, studies have shown that people simply tend to have a harder time remembering long company names, and are less likely to recommend them to others. Best to keep it as short and sweet as possible.
3. It’s straightforward
This one can even be an alternative to catchy. A company name works well if it gets right to the point – it’s not trying to be clever, it’s not trying to dazzle you with creativity – it simply says what the company is. SmartWater is a great example of this. If the rest of your branding elements – design, language, etc. – are full of character and really communicate a company personality, then a clean, non-nonsense name can be elevated from boring to chic. This is a good option for companies based around a unique product. If you make, say, a new kind of shower caddy for college students, you might want to call it something like “GradCaddy” instead of “Stewart Enterprises”.
4. It’s catchy
If you decide to ignore all of these rules, go for it. But if you do, the name you forsake them for better be catchy as hell. Because that’s the only way none of these other rules needs to apply. If you happen to stumble on a name that sticks in everyone’s brains like crazy glue, and it feels true to your company image, then use it. (Still probably shouldn’t let it be too long, though.)