How to Create a Company Name: 7 Methods and 5 Criteria

  1. Where to Start: Basic Methods
  2. How to Create: Tools and Cost
  3. How to Check: The Criteria For a Good Name
  4. What Do Famous Company Names Mean

The first thing we learn about a company is often its name. It must be simple and well-sounding – it is easier to remember and recognize in the future. We’ve prepared a full guide to successful naming to tell you about all the ways to develop and check the name as well as to share useful services and inspiring examples.

Where to Start: Basic Methods

The first stage of naming is brainstorming. Your task is to find as many associations related to the company as possible. You can write them down in random order or create a so-called mind map with several more associations selected for each new association.  They can relate to various aspects:

1. Physical characteristics: product line, company location, working hours, etc. Thus, the name Volkswagen comes from the phrase “people’s car” (for the main product), Palmolive – from the words “palm” and “olive” (oils based on which soap was created), and Carrefour – from the French word “crossroads” (the first store was there).

Volkswagen comes from the phrase “people’s car”

2. Literature, cinema, mythology. Starbucks took the character’s name from the novel “Moby Dick” as its basis (the maritime theme echoed the brand’s homeland – Seattle, a seaport city). And according to one of the versions, the name Yahoo appeared thanks to the novel “Gulliver’s Travels” which meant strange, boorish people.

Starbucks “Moby Dick”

3. Foreign languages. Ancient or modern languages are a great way to create a unique name. Thus, Volvo is derived from the Latin “volvere” (“I roll”), and Xerox – from the Greek word combination “dry writing”.

Xerox - from the Greek word combination “dry writing”

4. Brand’s aims or values. The Amazon online platform was named by analogy to the worldэs most full-flowing river which reflected the companyэs ambitions. And the Alinea restaurant was named after the namesake symbol meaning the beginning of the paragraph which indicates the unusual concept of the place.


5. Founder’s name. A very common method which is used in different variations. It can be a single family name (Boeing), a combination of several names (Garmin – Harry Burrell and Min Kao), a combination of name and location (Haribo – Hans Riegel, Bonn), and even a translation into foreign languages (Audi – the Latin translation of the family name Horch) which means “to listen”).


6. Acronym. Usually used for complicated names: BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke – the Bavarian motor factory), FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino – the Italian automobile factory of Turin), KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken).


7. Neologism. No one forbids inventing a word that is not yet in the language. You can use existing words just like Google did (the name is based on the mathematical term “googol” meaning a unit with 100 zeros) or create it from scratch like Spotify did (this word seemed to be heard by one of the founders when they invented the name for the company).

Google “googol”

How to Create: Tools and Cost

Having analyzed the business, you can choose four ways to develop a name.

1. Online generators. These are services that automate the naming process and help you find fresh ideas. For example, the ZenBusiness free online generator will create dozens of name variations based on one or two keywords. You can continue the process endlessly until you find a version that satisfies you.

2. Freelancers. You can find a copywriter who specializes in naming on the freelance exchanges or by recommendations. The cost of the work will vary depending on the level and experience of the specialist. For example, on the popular international exchange Upwork the majority of specialists in naming set the price from 40 to 150 dollars per hour.


3. Branding companies. Usually, such companies provide a full package of services, including naming, logo, and corporate identity development. This method will cost the most – as a rule, agency services cost several thousand dollars.

4. On your own. This option will cost you time and effort. It will suit those who feel creative and are willing to devote lots of time to the process.

How to Check: The Criteria For a Good Name

For a creative search to be productive, remember that some names may not be successful. While searching, sift out the names that:  

1. Are hard to say and write. Customers will search for your company on the Internet or tell your friends about it. Make sure that the name is short and clear – such words are the easiest to remember.

2. Restrain business growth. Do not focus on a particular product or service: if your business is successful and you expand your product line, the name will lose its relevance.

3. Aren’t unique. The name shall not repeat another company’s name or be similar to it. This applies to the following three aspects:

  • A domain name for the site. If you are going to enter the international market, the .com domain is preferable. But since most popular names with this domain are already occupied, you can use the alternative ones (.net, .info, .biz). Regional domains (.us for the USA, .de for Germany, .ua for Ukraine, etc.) are suitable for those who are going to work on the domestic market. 
  • Trademark. Typically, you can check the name on government websites, such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Social media profiles. If you are going to promote the company on social media, make sure there are no other profiles with the same name. This can be easily done by searching on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and any other platforms.

4. Include negative associations. This may relate to the specific use of a particular word in your country, a particular social group, or translations into other languages if you plan to work on the international market.

5. Do not meet the interests of the target audience. An important stage of naming is to get feedback from the target audience. Choose a few final versions and show them to the focus group or survey subscribers on social media (if they are your TA) or clients (if you already have them). Take their opinions into account when deciding on a final choice.

What Do Famous Company Names Mean

One of the most effective ways to get inspired is to study the history of famous brands’ names and the techniques they used. Here are some examples.


The name comes from the two main ingredients of the drink which were used to create the company. Coca is a substance from coca leaves and cola is a nut with the same name. To be more precise, the name of the nut was “kola” but the first letter in the word was replaced to make the name look better.

Coca-Cola logo


This abbreviation is based on the word combination which reflects the mission of the company: the Danish phrase “Leg godt” means “Play well”.

LEGO “Leg godt” means “Play well”


Ingvar Kamprad, the founder of the company, grew up in a small Swedish village and from the age of five started a business selling matches and other necessities. Not surprisingly, the brand was named after the owner and his homeland: the abbreviation IKEA stands for Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd Farm, Agunnaryd Village.

IKEA stands for Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd Farm, Agunnaryd Village


Steve Jobs wanted to create a name for the company as simple and elegant as the goods they produced. The fruit diet and the apple farm he loved to visit brought him the idea of apples. As he admitted, this name sounds “fun, energetic, and not frightening”.


The brand was named after a shortened combination of the name and family name of its founder – Adolf (Adi) Dassler.


Searching for a name, company founder George Eastman decided to invent a neologism. He began with his favorite letter “K” which he perceived as strong and sharp. Eastman selected various random combinations to this letter which had to meet three criteria: short, easy to pronounce, unique. Kodak turned out to be perfect.



The brand was named after Nika, the Greek goddess of victory. This association is reasonable for a company that develops equipment for athletes.


There are two techniques used in the name. The word is borrowed from one of the languages of South Africa, where it means a type of antelope. This animal is associated with strength and speed which refers to the idea of a sports brand.



The choice of the appropriate name may affect the success of the company in both communication with clients and business matters. To find a creative name, start with a thorough brand analysis, use your imagination, and don’t be afraid to try different methods.

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