The 7 Criteria For A Good Business Name

In 2009, I read a book which I dedicate much of my marketing success to. The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier. 

It was in this book that I fully understood the psychology of brand messaging, positioning, and company personality. But moreover, The Brand Gap taught me the secret to naming a business. I even used these secrets while developing my personal companies Sevenly & The Daily Positive. As taught in the book, the heart of this process begins with 7 criteria… I have listed them below.

7 Criteria For A Good Business Name

1. Distinctiveness: Does it stand out from the crowd, especially from other names in its class? Does it separate well from ordinary text and speech? The best brand names have the “presence” of a proper noun.
2. Brevity: Is it short enough to be easily recalled and used? Will it resist being reduced to a nickname? Long multi-word names will be quickly shortened to non-communicating initials.
3. Appropriateness: Is there a reasonable fit with the business purpose of the entity? If it would work just as well—or better— for another entity, keep looking.
4. Easy spelling and pronunciation: Will most people be able to spell the name after hearing it spoken? Will they be able to pronounce it after seeing it written? A name shouldn’t turn into a spelling test or make people feel ignorant.

5. Likability: Will people enjoy using it? Names that are intellectually stimulating, or provide a good “mouth feel,” have a headstart over those that don’t.
6. Extendibility: Does it have “legs”? Does it suggest a visual interpretation or lend itself to a number of creative executions? Great names provide endless opportunities for brandplay.
7. Protectability: Can it be trademarked? Is it available for web use? While many names can be trademarked, some names are more defensible than others, making them safer and more valuable in the long run.

I also found this helpful video which covers much of what is discussed above.

What's your company name? Does it fit most of the 7 criteria? Let me know in the comments below.

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18 Responses

  1. I am in the idea stage of an online company I am hoping to launch by the end of summer. It is a fitness and nutrition company called sweet anatomy

  2. Going to purchase that online TODAY! I’m battling wih a name and all I have right now is JUSDEM. I plan to design t-shirt and accessories that reach out to encourage and inspire physically, emotionally and especially spiritually. JUSDEM come from my kids names JUSTICE & DEMYON, who played the BIGGEST role in getting me to where I am now, leading me back to God! & I just want to bless others by not only claiming success by mouth but also wear it. I did read this article and I think my name JUSDEM is kind of borderline. I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts!
    Thank you and God bless! Appreciate the articles, YOU’RE AWESOME!

  3. I am considering starting a delivery service partnered with local farms and farmers markets here in Knoxville, Tennessee with the name
    From: the Farm.

    Labels and logos would say From: the Farm To: You. As though it is a personal package to you from the farm. But spoken I think it would be abbreviated to From: the Farm

    Our area has available produce nearly year round as well as eggs, milk, organic coffees, spice mixes, honey and many canned items like jams, salsas, sauces and more. Members could receive weekly, biweekly or month bins of various sizes and item numbers plus add ons like the above mentioned items.

    We have a thriving local famers market and I hope From: the Farm can a liaison between the farms and markets to homes.

    1. What a great business. Nice gift idea, too for new parents, teachers, wedding guests, etc. Personally, I’d be wary of the colon in the name — especially since you plan on two colons in the full name. Will be interested to see what Dale thinks.

      1. As a graphic design student- I’d say find a professional to design your brand, and before they begin the process talk to them about the colon. Depending on how your business’ identity develops, the colon could visually become an integral, relevant, and memorable asset to the brand.. Or it could be clunky, awkward, and unworkable. For me, the biggest thing is that mentally I pause when reading it. “From *pause* the farm” so it creates a little mental stumble when I’m reading. “From the farm” flows better as a phrase/name in my opinion. Either way, great idea!

  4. When I started my photography business a few years ago, I didn’t have the option of using my name, as many photographers do. Every iteration of Jen Smith Photo was taken in various states and was impossible to distinguish online. I chose a combination of my name, location and vocation:
    Carolina Photosmith. It’s a touch lengthy, so my social media handle is jenphotosmith.

  5. Dear Dale,

    Though I am still in the brain storming phase of my new business idea I find your article quite helpful. I am considering opening up a small business consulting firm FOR small businesses. I am still determining my niche market and struggling with a “business name.” Nevertheless, I am glad I read this. THANK YOU!

    PS: I love you! (And I mean that in the utmost respectful way)

    PSS: You should a consider a “Dear Dale” blog for readers to post questions about specific scenarios while providing general answers to their questions. This will help attract more readers and increase your followers. And yes, I would be more than happy to run that part of your business for you! ;`)


    Shereen Y.

  6. We recently started Kindaware – a group to put on different kindness stunts throughout the year. Our first one was a crowdfunding campaign where we raised £1,400 to create care ruck sacks for homeless people filled with warm things and food / coffee vouchers.

  7. Fitcology, I’ve always wanted to take psychology to the next level and share with people how to work our minds just like we do our bodies.

  8. I make handmade jewelry and my business name is The Mad Sparrow, which is a fun wordplay on my name.

  9. hey can anyone suggest me the name of my company its a pump manufacturing company….?

  10. I am going in circles with a business name. I want to do a brick and mortar and a food truck with two different names. I need them to be connected some kind of way though. It’s not necessary but I do have different menus for each. The food truck will come first which is a mobile coffee truck with breakfast and lunch dishes .. many derived from the delicious sweet potato. Then the big location will be a cafe and bar and have my delicious sweet potatoes. I want to be know for having the best loaded sweet potatoes with the best unique sauce.

  11. When it comes to name you business, it’s not a task to take lightly. A business name represents a promise to consumers and differentiates the value your business offers from your competitors. More importantly, you need to take yourself out of the business naming equation entirely because it doesn’t matter if your business name makes sense to you. It really only matters if your business name is meaningful to consumers.

    Thanks so much,

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