Naming a company

Great company names are worth millions.

In fact, choosing a name is one of the most important decisions you will make as an entrepreneur.

Your company's name could be a lever that separates you from your competition.

It could be the key element that helps your customers understand your value.

And it can make or break your branding.

But generating (and deciding on) the perfect name is difficult.

There's a reason why so many companies have names that are:

→ Forgettable

→ Confusing

→ Aimless

But I've been an entrepreneur for 20 years. I've named my fair share of businesses, from small projects to public companies.

In this article, I'll unveil my 7 rules for naming a company that will be:

→ Memorable

→ Brandable

→ Helpful

→ Clear

Let's dive right in.

But first, a little context

I’ve been building companies for the past 20 years.

They've all varied in size, industry, requirements, and audience.

But I've found common threads across my experiences in naming companies.And I'll never follow another set of naming rules again.

Some of the companies I've built include:

→ Vettery (Sold for 0M)

→ Archer (IPO at .7B)

→ Figure (Currently building)

Names aren't 100% of the equation.

My companies likely would have still been successful with different names.

But I can't ignore the power that a great company name has when pitching, funding, and marketing a business.

These rules are not the only ways to name a project, but this framework has yet to fail me.

Rule 1: Be unique in your category

These days, it's hard to stand out.

The internet has made it easier to stand up businesses in any industry.

There may 100 other companies with your same:

Brand colors
Marketing angle
And so on
You have to find ways to go against the grain — you need to stand out.

Having a unique name compared to others in your niche is a clear way to do this.

It will help you build brand equity more effectively than competitors.

A good example of this is Warby Parker. 

"Warby Parker" is an odd name for a glasses company. 

The name originated as a combination of two book characters.

And it doesn't tell you what the company does.

But you know the name and it's memorable.

Rule 2: Use words that can turn into verbs

When you're building a company, you need to invite people to take action.

Your brand name is the first touchpoint customers have with you.

You need to start the relationship off by inviting them to action in some way.

Engineer a name that eventually becomes a thing people do.

Great examples of this include Google, Photoshop, and Uber.

Nobody says "I need to grab a ride share."

They say "I'll just Uber there."

A 10x company name will invite people to action immediately. 

It becomes synonymous with accomplishing an important task.

In simpler terms:

Frame your company as the way things get done.

Rule 3: Limit your syllables

Short names are better.

The longer the name, the more difficult it is to type out.

The more difficult it is to type out, the less it gets searched online.

The less it gets searched online, the more forgettable it becomes.

It's a vicious cycle, and you can easily avoid it.

You want a name that is easy for the masses to say.

The sweet spot is a 2-syllable name.

Some good examples for this are Nike, Apple, Twitter, and Facebook.

Keep it simple to keep it memorable.

Rule 4: Easy to Spell

This falls right in line with Rule 3.

If your name is easy to spell, it will get searched far more often.

Resist the urge to pick a name that's hard to spell or has a drastically different alternate spelling.

You don't want your customers to have to guess how to type your name.

There are way too many companies that violate this rule, and it hurts them.

Don't get cute and change up the letters of a traditional word.

Your name needs to be easy enough for a 7 year old to spell.

A few great examples of this include Archer, Monday, and Amazon.

Rule 5: Easy to pronounce

Your customers won't just type your company name out.

They'll have to say it out loud, too.

If your company name is hard to pronounce, people won't ever want to say it.

There goes your word-of-mouth growth.

Again, you're aiming for a name that can be pronounced by the masses.

You want a name so easy that a toddler could say it.

It's in these details that you separate an OK name from a great one.

Examples of this include Apple, Tesla, and Nike.

Rule 6: Domain availability

10 years ago it was still possible to get a great ".com" for your brand.

Now, that's a bit more challenging.

It's difficult to find a great domain on even the less competitive domain extensions (like .io, .co, and .ai).

You need to select a name that is unique enough that it will be available as a domain...

...But common enough that it fits the other rules.

This is a tricky step, but a crucial one.

Your domain is how customers will find you, work with you, and refer you to others.

If you're able to get a great ".com" for your business, buy it. 

Otherwise, keep your company name intact and grab a less popular extension.

Rule 7: Trademarking available

This is where we get a little more technical.

The hope is that your brand grows like crazy every year.

It should become a household name that everyone knows and loves.

If you reach that goal, you'll want a trademark to protect yourself and get more benefit from the name.

Here's the reality of trademark filing:

There were 211,000 trademarks filed last year.

This is +63% more than the prior year.

The consequences of not checking before picking your name? It could mean you lose your name down the road.

Do some early online searching to make sure you can trademark.


The quality of your company name changes levers for your business.

By following the 7 simple rules in this article, you'll find the right name and never have to worry about it again.

Let's do a quick recap to make sure you have the principles fully grasped:
Rule 1: Be unique in your category
Rule 2: Use words that can turn into verbs
Rule 3: Limit your syllables
Rule 4: Easy to Spell
Rule 5: Easy to pronounce
Rule 6: Domain availability
Rule 7: Trademarking available

There are certainly more nuances that go into this, but this framework puts you ahead of 99% of companies.