Neophyte namers are often overwhelmed at the prospect of developing a new name. The world of naming conventions is finite. Becoming familiar with naming in your industry and within your competitive set is easy, and is an important first step in understanding what type of name to pursue. Here are a few more tips to consider.

Learn Basic Naming Conventions

Generally speaking, there are four basic categories of naming conventions that marketers and managers should understand.

1. Descriptive Names

  • Carries a literal association with it as in ""

2. Proper Names

  • Directly related to a partner, individual or found of an organization as in "Bain & Co"

3. Suggestive Names

  • Evocative with some or no direct association to the product or service as in "Starbucks"

4. Coined Names

  • Made-up terms that can be evocative when marketed well as in "Viagra" or "Zazzle"


For almost obvious reasons, different industries tend toward different conventions. Professional service firms have historically relied upon proper names. This is because the equity is primarily derived from individuals and their respective reputations. Other industries like consumer products tend to be more suggestive or evocative.

Strong Names Jump the Right Hurdles

Ultimately, a viable name candidate must make it through three critical hurdles:

1. The name has to be relevant among customers

2. The name must be well-received by leadership

3. Legal must be able to clear and obtain it

Failing any one of these requirements will undermine a new name's potential.

Worship at the Alter of Easy Alliteration

In an effort to get a secure and protected mark, there is a tendency among naming firms to pursue highly coined or suggestive names. This is often a last resort because descriptive names can be tough to protect. The challenge however is that often a coined term ends up being a tongue twister that no one can pronounce or say easily. This is a name killer and should be avoided at all costs.

Running Naked is Costly

Nobody plans on being sued. So why do smart, educated professionals put their organizations, albeit, at risk? Here are a few painful bromides we've heard along our naming travels.

"We were under pressure from management to launch and get it out the door"

"We did a preliminary screen and it came back clear"

"Well, yeah, I know we sell globally on the Internet, but we're based here in the U.S., we never even considered filing outside of the U.S."

"We can't afford legal fees; we're a start-up operation, topline revenue is our priority, not legal costs."

Sound familiar? Hopefully not. Putting your name out there in the public domain without the proper registration is begging for the wrong attention.