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Creative Startup Names to Help You Pick Yours

Did you know that the name “Amazon” was Jeff Bezos’s third attempt at naming his multibillion-dollar industry giant? When Amazon was just a start-up in Bezos’s garage, he received feedback that his first choice “Cadabra” sounded too much like “cadaver,” and that his second choice “Relentless” was too sinister. But people associated “Amazon” with something unique and exotic, which is exactly how Bezos wanted his site to be perceived. And the rest is history.

Good names for a business don’t come easy. You have to consider your brand identity as a whole before you make your final decision. Much like creating a business plan, learning about small business law, or hiring a startup lawyer, your company name is a crucial aspect of the start-up phase that deserves heavy consideration and workshopping. But how will you know when you’ve found the name that perfectly captures the essence of your start-up? Read on for our advice on how to choose effective, creative startup names, and a few examples of businesses that nailed it.

What’s in a Great Name?

When you are first launching a small business or brand, your advertising campaign will rely heavily on word of mouth. Thus, you want to have a name that people will actually remember.

Strive for a name that’s:

  • Short
  • Catchy
  • Easy to say

Remember, your business name isn’t just going to be read on the page. It’s also going to be said aloud by your target audience. You want it to be brandable, catchy, and memorable for anyone who reads it. 

Here are some tips that can help you land on a startup name that accomplishes all three:

  • Alliteration’s Almost Always Awesome – Best Buy. Coca-Cola. PayPal. What do all of these companies have in common? Aside from being extraordinarily successful, they all have snappy names that capitalize on alliteration. 

There are things that human beings just find pleasing for reasons we can’t quite put our finger on, and alliteration is definitely one of them. If you can generate an alliterative name, you’re off to a great start.

Just don’t overdo it. Naming your start-up something like “Unique New York” will have customers twisting their tongues en route to giving up on saying it entirely. And that will ultimately lead to them giving up on you.

  • Keywords Are Rarely a Bad Idea – Not every start-up name has to include the company’s area of expertise. But if your name includes a keyword that informs customers about the services you provide, even better.

For example, Burger King, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, all have names that tell you what they do. And this gives them an advantage over their competition right out of the gate.

Note that you can also land on a successful name by combining two words that allude to some aspect of your start-up’s field. Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat are all prime examples of this.

  • Acronyms Are Rarely a Good Idea – Every once in a while, NASA will send an astronaut to the moon. And just as infrequently, a company with an acronym for a name will attract customers’ attention.

Yes, companies like ESPN and IBM have gone on to be industry leaders. But if you choose an acronym for your start-up name, you’re not doing yourself any favors. For one, acronyms are a snooze. And even worse, they don’t give consumers an indication of what you specialize in.

  • Avoid Overly Cute Wordplay – It’s imperative to remember that clever and cute are not the same thing. Your startup name isn’t a newspaper headline. Punny wordplay isn’t your friend.

Sure, when prospective customers see names like “Tequila Mockingbird” or “Pho Sho,” it might get a chuckle out of them. But inevitably, their final impression of your start-up will be that you don’t take it seriously. 

Your goal isn’t to get laughs. It’s to get sales.

  • Make Sure Your Name Passes The “Spell” Test – Imagine that a customer asked you for your website. How easy or difficult would it be for you to answer them? If your start-up name is one that you could rattle off quickly without needing any further explanation, you’ve passed the “spell” test. 

But if you would have to follow up with a statement like “it’s two S’s instead of one, and instead of an O, it’s a zero…” to your audience, your name is a nightmare that needs to be changed immediately.

Great Names and Why They Work

Here are five great examples of startup names that are as clever as they are effective:

  • Nomadic – It’s just as easy to spell as it is to say, and makes it clear that the company’s services are related to travel.
  • Brick and Birch – This is a fantastic example of alliteration. It also alludes to the company’s expertise in construction.
  • Exactly – a simple yet clever way for this consulting agency to convey that they’ll help your company craft a marketing campaign that lets customers know exactly what you’re all about. 
  • WorkJoy – This human resources company found a great way to combine two words into one concept that illustrates their goals.
  • Playformance – Here’s an example of a playground surfacing provider using wordplay effectively, combining “playground” and “performance” into a name that’s memorable without being cheeky.

The perfect name for your start-up is just one short, catchy word away. Follow the above tips to create a name that rolls off customers’ tongues and stays on their minds. So, what creative startup names have you come up with now?


“This blog article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for client- and fact-specific legal advice from a qualified attorney.”



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