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8 Things to Try When Naming Your Business

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

Written by Ali Berg

A startup by any other name, probably won’t smell as sweet.

Forget naming your baby, baptising your start-up is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make. You’ll need a unique name to be discovered (in Google searches and App Stores) and also to claim a good domain. Plus, it’ll need to be easy to spell so your audience can find you. And, of course, it needs to be short enough to look good in a hashtag. But not too short that it’s common. 

With The Wall Street Journal claiming that there are 161 startups that end in “ly,” “lee, or “li”, how do brands stand out from the crowd and become memorable and meaningful to their audience?  Here’s 10 trends to try when coming up with your startup’s name: 

1. Create compounds 

This is an easy, and popular one. Put two words together to form an entirely new brand name. It’s descriptive, easy to remember, and generally says what it does in a succinct way. Just be wary of not making your name too long! Examples of this are Photoshop, Facebook, Salesforce. 

2. Go back in history 

Some of my favourite names have come from history. Look at Greek mythology, last century, or heck, even the bible, to find unique names that could suit your startup. An example of this is Nike, the name for the Greek goddess of victory.

3. Learn another language

Sometimes what your company or product does in English, sounds a hell of a lot better in another language. For example, Lego is derived from the Danish words ‘Leg Godt’, which means to ‘play well’. 

4. Turn on the blender 

When you can’t come up with a smooth sounding name by compounding two words, try blending a few. Be flexible and modify the words where it sounds right. Examples of this are Skype, which is a blend of Sky peer to peer, and Pictionary (picture and dictionary).

5. Affixed names 

An Affixed word is a real world, with a real prefix or suffix added to the start or end. They’re becoming more and more overused, so make sure to make yours unique. Examples are Napster, Appster, and also iPad, iPhone etc.

6. Create an Acronym 

Use the first letter of each word in a longer name. Make sure your initials aren’t short when written but long when said Eg. www has nine syllables when spoken whilst world wide web has three. Examples are GHD (good hair day) and SBS (Special Broadcasting Service).

7. Make a mistake 

Misspelling can be a good way of creating a unique name out of a simple word. It’s also great for claiming a domain on an otherwise everyday word. For example, Google (spelled Googol) or Sqwiggle.

8. Make it up 

When you’ve tried everything, and you can think of nothing, just make it up. Revert back to your baby years, and invent a word that doesn’t exist already. It’s easier than it sounds. Think Doritos and Häagen-Dazs (yep, this name means nothing, it was invented by the founders because it was “Danish-sounding”.)


Hedgehog is run by Josh. Josh helps small businesses to sell more online with detailed advice, planning and management. Learn more here.


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