It’s really hard to be original these days. Chances are someone else has had the exact same or a similar idea for a brand name or domain name. How do you create a name that instantly identifies your service and sticks in people’s heads–but isn’t already taken? Here are some tricks of the trade to help you find that perfect brand name.
1. Variations on a Theme
What word comes to mind when you think of your business? This will be your root word and the theme for the naming process. Try to come up with a few variations of the root as you go through the steps below. These online resources might come in handy:
- A paid service, Visual Thesaurus allows you to search for alternatives to the root word for your brand name.
- UberSuggest will attach letters and numbers to your root word and search for suggestions. When you click on a suggestion, more suggestions are generated. You can shortlist terms and then transfer them to your clipboard later.
- Impossibility finds unregistered domains by attaching adjectives, nouns or verbs to the beginning or end of your root word. You can even specify how long you want the new word to be.
2. Compound Words
What two words could you combine to make a new name? Examples include Facebook, SendGrid, Foursquare, Grooveshark and SlideShare.
A portmanteau joins both the sounds and meanings of two words. You could combine two root words that describe what your business does, or you could combine two of the founders’ names. Some good examples are:
- Accenture from accent and future
- Amtrak from America, travel and track
- Froogle from frugal and Google
- Garmin from its founders, Gary Burrell and Min H. Kao
- Linux from Linus Torvalds and Unix
- Microsoft from microcomputer and software
- Pinterest from pin and interest
- Verizon from veritas (Latin for truth) and horizon
- Wikipedia from wiki and encyclopedia
If you’re having trouble, WerdMerge will help you generate portmanteaus, starting with your root word. You can also click on suggested words to generate additional portmanteaus.
4. Sound Symbolism
The sound of words also plays a big part in how they’re perceived. For instance, BlackBerry was originally called MegaMail, which has a much less friendly connotation. Brand names can also sound similar to what they’re describing. For instance, Odeo sounds a lot like “audio” and Twitter conjures up images of birds “twittering” to one another.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty, linguistic studies have revealed that certain consonants carry a greater connotation of speed or dependability. Other sound-related properties of words include the articulatory properties of the vowels, syllable structure, length and rhythm.
5. Link to an Experience
Aside from sounds, the word itself can bring up memories of past experiences. For instance, Paper Boat is a fruit juice brand in India that takes their customers back to their childhood where making paper boats was a common and enjoyable activity.
6. Break the Rules
When it comes to naming, there really are no rules. So go ahead and misspell something! After all, Google is really a misspelled version of googol, or 10100. Other examples are Tumblr (tumbler), Reddit (read it) and Scribd (scribe). And who says the name has to be a real word? Check out FakeWord and see if any of those nonce words actually fit your brand.
You can even give your company a name that is completely unrelated to your services. Maybe name your brand in honor of someone influential or inspiring? However, be careful with this one. Just because it worked for Apple doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.
7. Go Foreign
Foreign words can also add some spice to your brand name. For instance, Sportskeeda literally means “sports worm” (keeda is Hindi for worm), playing on the word “bookworm.” Portmanteaus work great here too. Verizon combines veritas (Latin for “truth”) with “horizon.” Just don’t get carried away with this one, or your name will turn into a tongue-twister for your customers!
8. Get Creative with the Domain
Think about how you could integrate your domain name with your brand to create something unique and easy to remember. Such a name can even serve as a URL shortener. Would you rather type in http://news.ycombinator.com/ or http://hackerne.ws/? The shorter, the better. You can also try adding a suffix, such as a top level domain, or a prefix like “get” or “on.”
Once you’re fairly certain you have a winner, you need to make sure you can actually convert it into a domain name. Tools such as DomainsBot, Dictionary Domains, Bust A Name and Lean Domain Search can streamline the process.