Help Naming a Business

By Lisa McGrimmon | Published May 08, 2020
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Get help naming a business with loads of resources that will help you research and come up with catchy company names.

When you start brainstorming business name ideas, you'll quickly realize you need a little help. Everything from niche-specific dictionaries to word play resources, to translation tools can help you find a great company name and avoid some unfortunate business naming fails.

Here's Where You Can Find Help Naming a Business

My Favorite Business Naming Resources

Here are two fabulous books that will give you loads of help naming a business. There's some overlap in the material covered in each book, but I've read them both, and the information is different enough that it was worth reading both books.

Hello, My Name is Awesome by Alexandra Watkins

Brand New Name by Jeremy Miller

How to Name a Business: If you want to read my entire series of articles about naming your creative business, start here. The page links to all of the articles in the series and takes you through them in a logical, step by step manner.

General Dictionaries

No list of language exploration resources would be complete without a dictionary or two. Here are some you might like:

Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster: Two traditional, reliable dictionaries.

Vocabulary.com Dictionary: A more informal dictionary with fun, memorable, user-friendly definitions.

Art and Craft Specific Dictionaries & Glossaries

Crumpled yellow paper on chalkboard with chalk outline of lightbulb shape. Text - Loads of resources to help you find the right name for your business

A good niche-specific dictionary can help you come up with business name ideas using terms related to your product or service.

Be careful to avoid words that are too obscure. You want to create a business name that your target customer will understand and remember. Business names that are meaningless to your target customers are less memorable.

Here are a couple of glossaries from the Museum of Modern Art and the Tate galleries:

Create and Craft has a huge glossary of craft terms.

Find dictionaries specific to your own craft by searching for your craft plus the word "glossary" or "terms."

For example, a search for "beading glossary" turns up this great list for beaders: Beading Glossary 

And a search for "pottery terms" yields this resource: Pottery Terms

Thesauri

A thesaurus will help you find loads of alternative words that all mean the same thing. It can help you express yourself more eloquently or more precisely.

I couldn't get through my daily writing without my favorite thesaurus. And will become an essential tool for anyone who is brainstorming business name ideas.

Here are a few you might like:

WordHippo: My absolute favorite thesaurus. It has more casual, colorful and slang terms than other thesauri I've used. If you want your language to be a bit fun and colorful, WordHippo is the tool you need.

Thesaurus.com and Synonyns.com: Two more traditional thesauri that come with plenty of features to help you search

Idioms

An idiom is a figure of speech. It's a term with a meaning that's not understandable simply by reading the words alone. It is used commonly enough that most people within a culture will understand the meaning.

For example: If you live in North America, you probably understand the idiomatic phrase "blow off steam" means to express frustration or anger. The meaning is not obvious from the words alone. If you know what the phrase means, it's because you've encountered it in the past.

Idioms can be a fun source of inspiration for business name ideas. However, you do need to know your audience when you use idioms because they are culture-specific. An idiom that most people in one country would understand would be completely meaningless to someone from another country.

You can explore idioms on The Free Dictionary.

Word Play

A few resources to inspire you to play with words can be a great help when naming a business.

WordHippo: I've already mentioned my favorite thesaurus, but WordHippo is more than that. You can also use it to look up rhymes and translations, which can be helpful when naming a business.

Vocabulary Lists: Enter a word into this vocabulary.com tool and get user-created vocabulary lists related to that word. It's a great way to explore and expand upon key ideas you want your business name to communicate to customers.

Rhyme Zone: Rhyming or similar sounding phrases can be good for creating a business name that uses a clever play on words.

Word Associations: These word associations are looser associations then you'd find searching a thesaurus. The results are not just words that mean the same thing (synonyms). You'll also find words associated with a particular word.

For example: Imagine you want to highlight the unique nature of your handmade products. If you search word associations for "unique" one result you'll find is "fingerprint." It takes you from the more mundane, overused, and abstract word "unique" and moves you to the more concrete and fresh idea "fingerprint." A fingerprint could be used quite effectively to communicate a product is unique and handmade.

Check the Meaning of Your Business Name Ideas

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." - Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

It may be inconceivable that you'd end up with a bad company name that carries an unfortunate, unintended meaning. But if you don't check out the meaning carefully, you may end up stuck with a completely regrettable name.

Slang Dictionaries

Urban Dictionary: Before choosing a company name, look it up here. There's a whole lot of slang you might be completely unaware of. A lot of it carries meaning you wouldn't want to associate with your business.

Beware. The Urban Dictionary contains definitions some will find quite rude. It's helpful to make sure your business name isn't one of those terms. But brace yourself for some rough language if you go searching there.

Online Slang Dictionary: Another slang dictionary you can use to check for unfortunate, unintended meanings in your company name. Fair warning - there's some rough language in places on this site as well.

LAnguage Translation Tools

Don't get stuck with a company name that means something horrible in another language! These online translation tools can help.

Reverso.net and Linguee.com are translation tools that both provide some context to the words. When you look up a word, these tools will show how they might be used in a sentence that helps you to understand the subtleties of the meaning a bit better.

Social Media Account Availability

Namechk.com: This tool will quickly show you if a username is available on a huge number of social media platforms. If you want to know whether you'll be able to secure your business name on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or anywhere else, this tool will tell you. 

Related: Choosing a Blog Name - How to find a great domain name that's available and affordable

Trademark Checking

Before you start the business name registration process, you need to do a trademark check on your top company name ideas.

The US Patent and Trademark Office will give you a starting point for trademark basics. Keep in mind, it's a starting point. It does not replace the advice of a trademark lawyer. You should consult with a lawyer any time you need this type of professional legal advice. 

More Business Name Tips

  • Choosing a Company Name

    Choosing a company name made simple. These 7 steps will help you find the best name for your business.

  • Business Name Ideas

    Brainstorm business name ideas for your craft business with 6 ways to come up with great company names and 4 ways to brainstorm better.

  • How to Create a Business Name

    Three ways to create a business name. Use these 3 strategies for creating a company name to come up with a great name for your new company.

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