Naming your Business? Here are 6 tips

I was recently asked by someone to suggest a name for their startup. This is not the first time that someone has approached me for this. I also often (not so often these days) see posts on social media from friends, families and acquaintances seeking name suggestions for their businesses.


Names are an important anatomical entity for anything. A name is an identity. It is the first conversational point – between people irrespective of whether they are customers, or employees or friends or anyone else.

Household names like Google, Uber, Starbucks, Facebook, Rin, Coke, TATA etc that have become part of everyday language and are an essential part of our lives. Of course, they have been pushed hard by some smart marketing but having a marketable name is the first step in the right direction.

On the other hand, there are business names that are regrettable to say the least as they shift focus from purpose to the quirky nature of these names. A simple Google search will give you some very interesting results:

  1. Rotten Wi-fi
  2. Bewakoof (In Hindi it means stupid) – No wonder this startup was bought by the now struggling e-commerce company
  3. Fu King Chinese Restaurant
  4. Fat Ho Burgers (Translated to Get Fat Burgers)
  5. If you drive around your city in India, you may come across many such names B.Tech Chat Wala (An engineer selling snacks), Shoe Hospital (for a roadside cobbler), WhatsApp Snacks,  Please don’t say Theek-thaak (translated to Please dont say OK) and there are more

Shakespeare may disagree and roses may smell the same with another name but in business, telling name of the business is a defining moment for anybody. With the growing startup culture in countries like India, name could be a make or break for any further discussion with customers, investors, employees and vendors.

So what goes in a name? Below are some of the tips to consider while naming your business.

  1. Keep the name short and crisp – Distractions in the modern world have had a serious casualty in the attention span of people. People are usually mutli-tasking and rarely focused on what they have in front of them. To catch attention of such a busy mind, one needs to have a short and crisp name. Long and detailed names are most likely to go unregistered and unnoticed by the audience. Companies like Amazon, Google, Jio, Uber, Tinder etc understood this and kept the brand names short and crisp.
  2. Name should be relevant to business purpose – I get excited by companies that have their name telling me their story. Take example of some companies like
    • Netflix – One can easily make out that it is an internet business to watch your next movie flick
    • EBW (Express Bike Wash) – As simple and direct it can get. This company tells you that it is in the business of bike wash and one can expect quick response given that it is an ‘Express’.
    • ToysRus – The famous toy store chain is every kids delight. The name tells it all.
    • – It is the online doctor with an MD. You can find information of anything even remotely related to medicine here.
    • MapsofIndia – This tells that the visitor to this site can expect the maps from all over India here.
    • Now consider Government initiatives like Digital India, Skill India to name a few. These names clearly mark the purpose of the existence of these businesses and missions. A layman can understand what these businesses stand for.
    • Future Group, one of the largest retail groups in India, have adopted this approach in all its brands. They run stores general stores chain by the name of Big Bazaar, Electronics chain by the name of eZone, HomeTown for home furnishing and furniture – to name a few.
  3. Verb phrases in nature – Some businesses take the approach of naming themselves based on the verbs or actions that they expect their customers to do when they hear about them. Lets take an example of Flipkart. The company in clear intent tells its customers to flip their physical shopping cart and buy online from them.
  4. Names should be simple – I came across a couple of media agencies – Sokrati and Vezury. Frankly, it is very difficult for me personally to keep a clear recall of these brands and their purpose. Simply because they are just too lacking in purpose and unclear to common man that they are hard to remember.
  5. Keep them professional – There is a company by the name Web Chutney. Chutney is Hindi word for paste. In my days at a leading auto manufacturer in India, I used to interact with their staff and found them very professional and experts in their fields. However, every time I read their cards, I used to smirk reading at the name of the company. While it could be a good branding strategy to build a brand recall with such names but there are other ways to build professional business with professional names.
  6. Name for the right audience – If you are targeting global audience, the brand name needs to be global and non vernacular in nature. If your product or services are such that they are targeted to only a particular segment or customer type irrespective of geography then the name should be more personal to that group. For example, Infosys is a global name as they see the world as their market. However, Haldirams, the leading Indian snack company, sees only Indians and Indian diaspora as their target audience so they have a very localized name. Many a times translation from one language to another lead to disastrous meanings for well intended words and phrases. Here are some examples of straight translations that led to marketing discomfort for some of the big brands.

Names for business just as children last a lifetime. These names are registered and marketed entities and have lot of bearing in the marketplace. When you name your business, make sure that it is not something that you regret sooner or later. All the best with your journey to pursue your next big dream.

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