Creative Business Names-What To Avoid

Most creative business names function to redirect our attention, from whatever we’re doing to a company name that we suddenly cannot ignore, for whatever reason. Whether it is a minor pun on words or a hilarious business name concept that has us doubled over with laughter, the element of distraction (over and above a name that is simply descriptive or catchy) can serve to garner attention and possibly create customers from people who otherwise might never have been aware of our business.

It is true that generating a business name that is truly memorable and creative will imbue it with an additional stickiness in the minds of people who hear it. It is also true that for any new business fighting so hard to get established in the first six months to one year of its existence, catchy business names that really “work” can make all the difference vis-à-vis the general visibility of the company, compared to names that fall flat. However, there is a limit to just how far you should go in getting creative with a business name, and at least two constraints that you would do well to observe as you try so hard to come up with a business name worthy of your efforts. By the way, are you familiar with the convenient business name generation tools you’ll find all over the Net? These are often semi-automated tools and they are handy for coming up with cool business names that work for you.


The first caveat that you as a business owner should keep in mind is that creating business names should not be an exercise in delving into obscurity. There is a limit to how creative you want to get with your business name because if there are complex allusions to abstract concepts, ancient Greek or Latin roots, or literary or historical figures, etc. then your name risks going completely over the heads of people who might otherwise take an interest in the product or service you are offering. If you look at creative business names that have successfully gain a foothold in the general public consciousness, such as Apple, Nike, Volkswagen or Visa you will find names that work on different levels both superficially as well as on some deeper-or even profound-manner.

The second constraint that will affect the way you come up with an initial selection or list of creative business names boils down to simple economics. As critical as a business name will be to every advertising campaign you ever undertake in whatever medium, spending too much money on a creative company name can be a mistake if it leaves your new business strapped for cash. Even a cursory search on the Internet will reveal dozens of companies touting their services as branding geniuses who can easily supply you with a name that perfectly fits your business. The problem is that the cost of purchasing creative branding services like this can run into the thousands of dollars quite easily, possibly leaving your new business hobbled in terms of cash flow and being unable to meet unforeseen expenses.

With regard to the second point, you must keep in mind that you cannot simply rely on a marketing firm to come up with examples of creative business names from which you can simply select. You’ll have to be involved in this process, and in fact you should be involved, because naming any business is a subjective exercise and no one has a clearer idea of the brand you are in the process of creating-and putting so much time and money into-than you do.

The best business names will always strike a balance between being overtly catchy on one hand while still “working” if one reflects on the deeper meaning of the name. In fact, the more successful your business gets the more likely it is that you’re customers as well as the general public will “get” the slightly hidden meaning that usually exists with creative business names, and this can work for you, almost as though your name is an inside joke of which people are privileged to be a part.

Finding A Catchy Business Name With Basic Marketing

If you’re trying to dream up catchy brand names for your new business idea, the Internet is probably the best tool that you have. Simple brainstorming and making use of random name generators and tools you can find all over the Internet, makes it easy to quickly build a suitable list of names that you can consider as branding possibilities.

Compiling a catchy business names list may be less of a challenge than finally settling on a name for your business. I’d like to share with you today a relatively cheap, though very scientific, method of determining just how responsive people will be to your new business name, or whether it tends to fall flat. Before you commit your time and resources to the enterprise you will build, you have only one chance to move forward with an business identity that memorably describes what you do.

Ideally you would conduct a marketing study to get real-life opinions from as many people as possible as to just how memorable different names from your initial list are. The larger and more varied this group is in terms of the individuals whose opinions you solicit, the more reliable your test will be as an indicator of stimulating interest in your new brand name. So how would a new, small-scale business engage in a marketing study like this whose cost is appropriate or in-line with the amount of revenue its owner can expect to generate? Excellent question.

There are many ways to conduct a brand marketing study, but Google Adwords offers easy-to-set-up campaigns for which your spending is easily controlled. Through the straightforward interface, you can feature each of your short-list of names in the small text ads that Google serves up its search results, the Gmail sidebar and other places, then quickly get an indication of just how ‘catchy’ each one is, as measured by the number of clicks that each receives. There are endless options for targeting potential customers in any geographical area that you specify. The learning curve is manageable, if your purpose is to simply determine the viability of catchy business names.


Use of this method is by no means limited to discovering excellent names for your business. Product names, titles or any sort of brand can be assessed with a scientific marketing campaign that is a necessary complement to brainstorming, inspiration and “feel”, that you’ll use to compile your original list of names.

In the book The Four Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss memorably describes how he actually came up with the name for his bestselling book using this method. He and his publisher had settled on a small pool of working titles when Ferriss, knowing full well the enormity of this choice, took the bull by the horns and ran a small Adwords campaign himself to get some hard data regarding a catchy name. It turned out that the name that they eventually chose was far and away the name that got the best response, and has no doubt contributed to the huge success of the book: talk about return on investment!

Don’t leave the final selection of an easy to remember name for your business to gut feeling, or nothing but your own opinion. Apply some good data on what actually works to your initial list of catchy business names by analyzing what names people actually respond to, and one smart way to do this is by running a small Adwords campaign.