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BUSINESS NAMES: A free tutorial on finding good business names

Business names are not hard to come up with. This tutorial shows you how to come up with catchy business names yourself. For more detailed help on choosing business names, download our "You Name It" e-book. It will help you quickly find and evaluate business names that work for you.

When evaluating possible names for an e-business, there are additional considerations. Once you have a couple of names on paper, check if the domain names and trademarks are still available. Get yourself a copy of the Search Engine Yearbook for important pointers on what to look for in a domain name.


Good business names are:

1. Descriptive

Let's say we're in the business of helping authors publish their work in e-book format. We'd like people to know all that when they read the business name right?

How about "E-publishing House"?

Not bad, but a bit too long for a domain. ""

Maybe "E-publisher"? Better, but the dash after the "E" is a problem. We'd have to register both "" and "" to make sure our customers find us.

One solution to this problem is to look at names that can be abbreviated. Let's take Pandecta Magazine as an example. We are known as

  • Pandecta
  • Pandecta Magazine and
  • Pandecta Electronic Magazine

Each of these names have specific uses. The first one for the domain ( and in informal communications with people who know what "Pandecta" is and what business we're in.

The second one is our official business name.

And the third is used on our web site (See top of page) and on all offline material like letterheads and business cards.

Descriptive names are usually better, but not absolutely required. Think of BlueBean, Yahoo!, Acer, etc.

2. Short

Keep it short - not only for the domain name, but also to make it easier to remember. There are exceptions that we'll look at further down.

3. Unique

When competition is as fierce as on the Net, branding becomes very important. That is why somewhat silly names like BlueBean and Yahoo! work. It stands out.

On the other hand, you might gain a slight advantage by choosing a name that is close to a well known name. Something like BlueBerry. (Already taken by the way)

That way you share in some of the brand awareness that already exists for the original name.

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4. Easy to remember

If it is short, unique and descriptive, then it is probably already easy to remember. Here the BlueBean example looses out a bit.

It is a combination of two words, which is good (I'll tell you why further down). The "Bean" part is not bad. People should be able to remember that. The "Blue" part is not so good - "Ummm - what bean was that again...?"

They did however choose words that fit together nicely. "BlueBean" is just nicer to say than "RedBean" or "YellowBean". Mind you, "GreenBean" is fun too.

The important point is that we don't all have the venture cap to advertise on CNN, so we can't keep pounding our business names into the heads of consumers. They'll see it once. Maybe twice. It has to stick.

Here's how:

Remind them of something pleasant. Create an association with something that they know and love. Create a sense of adventure/ romance/ security/ excitement.

"StarDust", "Castle", "Tustep", "Goldthings", "Mountain Records", "Sleepy Magic", "Godfather".

5. Easy to spell

Which company has created the greatest brand awareness in the world? Yes, MacDonald's... or is that McDonald's? I can never remember. Who cares?

The people trying to type your URL care!

Avoid numbers. "Site7" might sound interesting, but it complicates the customer's path to you. If they're not sure if they should type "Site7" or "SiteSeven", they might skip both and simply type your competitor's name.

6. Catchy/ Trendy

Depending on your profile customer, you could choose a name that creates an association with a catchy or trendy word.

But make sure your company name doesn't go out of fashion after you've spent a year promoting it.

--- A D V E R T I S E M E N T ---

Whatever you sell,
you can sell more

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7. Add perceived value

Speaking of catchy & trendy - be careful not to make it sound cheap. We chose "Pandecta" because it sounds like a Latin word - something only a professor would think of. This fits our image of targeting Net-savvy entrepreneurs.

In the CD rack in front of me I see a writable CD - the make is "Imation". They probably tried to blend "image" and "animation", but it sounds too much like "imitation". What a great way to tell your customer that your products are below par.

People should read your name and say - "oh, that sounds nice". TELL them how good you are in the name. "Goodbytes" is a great name for a software company... too bad it's taken.


No, there's not a program that generates business names (that I know of), but there are other tools you can use.

Do you have a dictionary and thesaurus? I have MS Bookshelf '95 on my system. Very outdated yes, but it still works quite well. Especially the thesaurus, because it suggests lists of words that are similar to the word you type. You can also try

When you find a good business name, check the meaning in a couple of different languages - just to make sure it's not offensive. There are many dictionaries online, but amazingly there are also many examples of business names that offend potential customers. Just do a search for "English French dictionary" for example and make sure you're not stepping on any toes.

For more detailed help on choosing business names, download the "You Name It" e-book. It will help you quickly find and evaluate business names that work for you.





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