Brand naming: how to choose a company name

Choosing a company name is everything. This is why finding the right one is so important. It happens with people, as there are some names that sound more or less nice or attractive, that give us a sense of security… This is because we normally associate them with certain ideas. Words establish contexts in our minds, and names are our introduction cards.

We can’t choose our name (or at least not usually), but we can choose our company name, event name or product name. And, linguistically speaking, it’s the first thing we see!

Tips for brand name ideas

As with everything, there are strategies for finding the appropriate brand name. It is a difficult, time-consuming process. Ultimately, it’ll be our main image from now on! Below, we have put together a few ideas for coming up with our name. That said, we should also bear in mind that we can always turn to naming companies to save us the effort.

Think of the name first

The first step we must take is to think about the brand name (and the verbal branding in general) before the logo and visual image of the company. If we have a brand story, it will be easier to evoke meaningful images.

In any case, if we are clear about the visual part, we should then adapt the linguistic part. For example, let’s imagine a black and grey logo for a company called Allclean… It doesn’t quite fit, right?

Look for semantic fields

A good way of naming a company is to look for semantic fields that are linked to our activities, with the product characteristics… We can do this in our language and in other similar languages. For example, if we sell vehicles, we can play with words (or onomatopoeia) related to speed, efficiency, comfort…

Choose terms in line with your company

From these semantic fields, we should opt for those words that best fit our mission, vision and values. Do we want to sell our cars for their speed, or because they are comfortable for the family? That’s the key!

Don’t be afraid to play with the words

Once you have selected the group of words, it’s a question of playing with them. We can add suffixes and prefixes, mix them with other words, cut them, search for a translation into other languages… With this simple trick, we will have a wide variety of company name ideas. Now we just need to choose one!


Get professional advice for international company names

Don’t miss these naming blunders on @MastersOfNaming

Some names are international, others not so much. For example, let’s say we take a trip to Argentina with our Spanish friend Concepción, who we call Concha for short. It won’t take long before we revert to calling her by her full name, as Concha has quite a different meaning in Argentina. We’ll let the less fainthearted of you look that one up yourselves!

Some given names are indeed translated. For example, John, becomes Juan, Jean, Joan or Giovanni depending on the country. Others, like Daniel, are not generally translated… How to know what type of internationalisation we should give our company name. In this case, we should consider these points:

  • We must be sure that, when choosing a company name, it is not offensive anywhere. Let’s imagine we call our catering company Chin-chin. Catchy, right? Everything goes well until we decide to open it in Japan. The likelihood is we will go bust in 2 months. The problem? That’s what the Japanese call the male reproductive organ… So, before going with the catchiest name for our company, let’s take some time to see if it means something else in another culture.
  • Will it be understood? This is another question we must ask ourselves. As much as we’d really like to play on words, it’s likely that a name that conjures up certain images in one culture doesn’t have the same connotations in another, even if it does sound international.
  • Do we translate it or leave it in our own language? Company names and brand names go hand in hand, and sometimes a name sounds attractive because of the language it’s in, as foreign languages usually have certain stereotypes. If we’re selling tea or cricket bats, then a good English name will serve us well. We don’t think a range of fine wines would have the same selling power in English (We are not exactly well-known for our food and wine…).

Choosing the right company name is a complex process

As we have seen, choosing a company name is a complex process that requires great effort and knowledge. It should be essential for every company, as it is the first impression anyone has of our brand identity.

We’ve given you a few tips on how to develop it, but it’s like anything. You can try your luck, or ask the professionals who know what they’re doing. Anything goes, but not everything is effective!

About the author

Oscar Nogueras

Es el CEO de Ontranslation y dedica algunos ratos libres a escribir en este blog para compartir sus conocimientos sobre internacionalización, cross-border ecommerce y Traducción SEO. No es para menos, ya que entre su formación cuenta con una licenciatura en filología inglesa, un máster en tradumática, un posgrado en elearning y un MBA. En definitiva, una declaración de intenciones donde la cultura y los idiomas se sirven mezclados, no agitados.

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