Seven Major Options On How to Name Your Business

name-tagComing up with a name for your business can be tricky. If you’re retail it’s easier to go random, there are so many businesses with names that may or may not have any meaning to the customer (even if there’s a story behind it). I can think of the Black Dog Public House, White Dog Cafe, the Pig and Whistle, Elephant and Castle etc. You might just pick something random and be known for that. But, if you’re a service based professional, I don’t think that’s the best way to go.

And there are so many terrible names: General Electric, Universal Solutions, Leaders International etc.  All vague and give you both no idea what it is and evoke no curiousity to know more.

I believe your business name should, ideally, be simple, memorable and if it’s not crystal clear what it is, then to at least evoke curiousity.

As far as I can see it, you’ve got seven major options:

Option #1: Business Your Personal Name: There are absolutely worse options than simply going for Just have your URL and business name be your name. If you’re genuinely stuck, this is a fine place to start. If you pick a specific business name and then change it – you have to rebrand, re-educate people etc. But you’re unlikely to change your own name. So, even if you eventually name your business something else – people will at least know your name. And there’s a powerful argument to be made in making yourself the brand as Peter Montoya lays out in his brilliant book The Personal Branding Phenomenon.

Option #2: Make Up A Word (or use a foreign word): Sometimes you can’t find a simple way to say what you do without using dozens of words. You might consider picking a simple word from another language, or even your own or . . . make one up! Think of It’s a place you can buy amazing products made from crafters world wide. Etsy isn’t actually a word! But it is now. The Otesha Project takes young people on empowering bike trips around Canada. The word came from a Kenyan word meaning ‘hope’ which got to the heart of what they’re about. Simple words like this make for easy to remember URL’s too.

Option #3: Speak to the Result: This one can be really powerful. When you think about the ultimate result you offer your clients – could you sum that up into a few words? Here are a few I’ve seen that give you an immediate sense of what they offer:,,,, Fill Your Workshops With Ease! or ‘Get the Girl!’. My dear friend Erica Ross named her business after the result in a more evocative way with I also heard someone use this the other day as a joke but I think it’s a great URL 

Option #4: Speak to their Current Situation: A client of mine who helps injured yogi’s recover decided on the name ‘Broken Yogi’. Another one is A friend of mine who’s a dating coach launched a product called, ‘She’s Only Six Steps Away’ speaking the feeling many men have when seeing a woman they’re interested in but being too terrified to approach her and thinking to themselves, ‘Come on man! She’s only six steps away!’. 

Option #5: Use an OxyMoron: I’ve written a lot about this in another post but the basic idea is to see if you can create your name out of wedding two seemingly conflicting ideas. Marketing + Hippies? Those don’t seem to go together. Buddhist + Bootcamp? The fact that they are contrasting makes the name more interesting and exciting for people.

Option #6: Name the Boat: I speak a lot about your ‘boat‘ when I speak of the journey we take people on from on Island to another. Naming the boat isn’t always the most compelling thing – bu tit’s a legitimate way to go. You could go with which would certainly rank you high in google for local searches. And if you’re offering a specialty product or service that few others are offering, you could go with a name like, or Those names don’t say anything about the problems you solve or the results you offer, they’re not compelling like an oxymoron would be but they’re pretty clear and easy to understand at a basic level.

Option #7: Name it After Your Niche: If you have a product or service with a tonne of applications that you’re wanting to apply to a specific niche why not name your business after that?   e.g. or Broken Yogi and Recovering Yogi also work here.

If you can think of any other examples or ideas, I’d love to hear them.


About Tad

  • Good Post Tad, I would ad these ones:
    1. Name who your clients wanna be: e.g. AlwaysinLove
    2. Name it with what they’ll get rid off: e.g NomoreHeadache
    3. Name the opposite : e.g LaunchyourCareer vs Buildyourcareer
    4.Name the Action they need to take: Simplify your Life Now
    5.Name it with Alliteration: FunFitness, DoubleyourDating
    6.Name it after a movie: The Hobbit Marketing way
    7.Name it with inspiration: You deserve better

    And I would add even before name your business, you gotta do your homework on who you are, what you wanna be know for, the problem you wanna solve,the role you wanna play and your personnality so you can be strategic about everything. What I do and what I always recommend my clients to do is interview the clients you wanna serve and youll get the right answers, the right words for your name, your campaign and your marketing.

  • Hi, Tad, these are all good ideas. Some I use in my own consulting process (and in my marketing books) include:

    1. Not only whether to personalize, but what kind of personalization (for instance, unless you’re Garrison Keillor, you won’t name a financial institution “Bob’s Bank”–but “Bob’s Small Engine Repair” would be just fine–and a string of last names sounds very authoritative for lawyers and accountants, but might not work so well for a restaurant.

    2. Can you get the dotcom version?

    3. If you need to trademark it–not everyone needs to–is the trademark available?

    4. Do you need to be early in the alphabet? (for instance, if you’re marketing in the Yellow Pages–yes, people still use them)

    5. Will the name be able to grow as your business grows, or will it hold you back?

  • Sofia Olson

    I’m thinking “Self-Love Revolution”. What do you think?

  • I would add a few qualifiers on the “named after me” concept. There are some issues with exit plans when the whole brand and name are you. Obviously there are upsides to branding yourself and certain fields will be more amenable. Services are easier to name after yourself than products, for example. Annie’s Organics is easier to spin off than Annie Smith-Johnson’s Organics. :-)

  • so brilliant. thanks for these. really great :-)

  • those are such good questions. so generous of you to share! thank you.

  • good point! if you plan to grow your business to be something more than you, naming it after yourself makes that harder e.g. Tony Robbins vs. Landmark. Only Tony Robbins can facilitate a Tony Robbins program.

  • depends what it is and what it’s for but basically i love it :-)

  • Greg Watson

    Hey Tad,

    Your name popped up once again, so I figured it was time to check you out.

    I really like what you said in this post and also got a lot of insight from a couple of the other comments.

    I’m just finishing up a program in Industrial Design and have been pondering my next move. I was kicking around domain name ideas with a friend the other day and he suggested Ordinary Design. (kind of fits your oxymoron notion)

    That got me thinking and what I recognized that I do a lot of the time is “observe the ordinary” things around me and in other peoples environments (I’ve been designing/ redesigning homes for a long time) and offer alternative solutions to perceived problems.

    Not sure that it fits neatly into any of your categories but it is what I do. (It also happens to be a notion presented in the book “Change by Design” by Tim Brown CEO and President of IDEO a pretty significant design firm to say the least)

    Anyhoo… decided to take the plunge and signed up to your list.


  • hey greg! thanks for signing up. i like that the name would make me ask what you mean by ‘ordinary design’ as it seems so opposite to what imagine most people would want me to think of their designs.

  • Greg Watson

    Actually ordinary design is taken so I’m back to square one. LOL

    Quick question, how come your photo is up with my name? I thought I had posted a photo a long time ago with disque….. Perhaps I need to revisit them.

  • wish i knew! it’s the weirdest . . .

  • Greg Watson

    Well as a Saltspring Islander I’m used to weird….no worries. ;-)

  • Greg, maybe you are one of Tads personalities and don’t even exist on your own…….mysterious.

  • Greg. She’s onto us.

  • Paolo

    Hey Tad,
    This article reminded me of our chat a few months ago. Remember I was so stuck with my URL and business name and you mentioned something about ‘the Italian nutritionist’.
    I though it was just too simplistic at the time, but I realised it really defines my boat and who I am better than anything else… and it makes me proud of my bucket :))
    Guess what… This is what I chose! (Works in progress)

  • I love it :-) so wonderful to have a name that feels right