Naming a company is no easy task. If you’re an entrepreneur, then you probably know how long it takes to come up with a name for your product, service, or business, and what goes into this whole process.
If you are looking to get some inspiration for naming/renaming your own agency, then this is the right post for you. We’ve decided to break down what goes down into choosing a name for a company, and what’s more – we’ve featured real life stories of how the founders of some of the top SaaS products, marketing agencies and tech companies out there came up with a name for their businesses. These stories give us a lot of insight into the line of thought that led them to choose their company’s name.
We hope you enjoy this example driven guide for naming your agency – and we’re willing to bet that you’d have learnt some great ways to approach the whole “how to name my agency” conundrum by the time you’re done with this post.
Your Company’s Name Matters
For those who are wondering, “Does my company’s name really matter that much?” – your company’s name is undoubtedly going to matter in the future, whether you like it or not. Nothing will represent your business better than your name does – you go to a conference and tell people, “Hey, I’m the CEO of Doorwhacker Agency”, then either people are going to assume that that’s your name, or ask you questions about why you named it such. Compare this to saying, “Hey, I’m the CEO of GrowthBoost Digital Marketing” (for sake of an example), then it’s just going to make a lot more sense. Your agency is all about helping businesses grow, and people are going to immediately recognize that.
Companies also decide to rebrand and rename themselves under a different moniker sometimes – some of the biggest companies have done this in the past, and not without good reason. There are tons of reasons as to why you need to have a great name for your agency. Here are some of them.
- It makes you look like a pro. Because – let’s face it – “Racing to the Future Digital” just sounds like a company that’s run by a 7-year-old.
- It helps set you apart from the competition – the amount of big companies that are called Apex and Summit might cause you a lot of trouble while buying domains (something we’ll get into later). You might also face problems being misrecognized for other companies that carry the same name.
- Have a name that likely sounds and is pronounced the same way – customers might have trouble getting you if your company’s name is spelled “Queue Marketing” but is pronounced “Q-Marketing”, for instance
Naming Your Agency 101
Naming or renaming your business is a difficult task. We’ve all heard stories about companies having 6 meetings and coming up with 300 different combinations of names before finally deciding what they should name themselves (we’ll be talking about how come up with names for your agency later on in this guide).
When you’re brainstorming and coming up with your agency’s name, keep these things in mind:
- Avoid choosing controversial names – The Washington Redskins faced a lot of controversy owing to this very issue.
- Avoid coming up with names that have negative-sounding abbreviations – A business named Chocolate Raspberry Almond Pastries abbreviates to CRAP, and you don’t want something like that to happen to your business.
- Don’t name based on one service alone – This restricts your opportunity to expand, if you’re going to call yourself Matterhorn SEO now, then it’s likely that you’ll rebrand yourself as Matterhorn Digital or Matterhorn Marketing once you expand your service offering
- Don’t make it difficult to pronounce – You might be a florist, but naming your business Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis is going to end up being called “The florist on 27th Main”
- Never, ever, use trends or fads – “Do the Dab Digital” is going to sound irrelevant 10 years from now
- Go with catchy names – Nike, Starbucks and Google sound nice when you say it loud and are easy to remember
This doesn’t mean that you have to break your head trying to come up with unique, serious sounding names for your company. When asked about how he came up with his company’s name, Peter Attia of Cucumber Nebula says:
“In high school, a buddy and I were thinking of names for his new band. We quickly spiraled into just spouting off the most ridiculous things we could think of. He said ‘Cucumber Nebula’, and the name became an inside joke for several months. I threatened him saying I was one day going to start a business called that.”
And so he did.
Choosing a Domain Name
This is undeniably one of the trickiest aspects that come with naming or renaming your company. You need to check for the availability of the domain on the side when you’re naming your agency to make sure that it helps people recognize you immediately and find you better. This will also help you get more traffic, and in some cases, it can even help your business’ SEO.
“While Stefano (my co-founder) and I were deciding on a name for our price monitoring software, Altosight, we first decided on a few aspects the name needed to have:
1) It needed to be short and ideally one word, because it’s better for branding.
2) It needed to have a .com domain available for it for SEO purposes.
So, we created a channel in Slack and started throwing around names after verifying by ourselves they met these 2 requirements. After some trying we reached the conclusion for Altosight, which is from Alto, an Italian word for “high” and sight as in viewing.”
Your business’ name is the one term for which you can easily rank on Google, and choosing a common name like ‘Metro’, for instance, can lead you to compete for even that search term. Choosing a unique name, however, will easily land you an almost guaranteed spot on Google’s search results.
The availability of domain names have influnced the naming of several businesses. Dan Shure, owner of Evolving SEO, says, “My business’ name, “Evolving SEO”, actually came from my older (now non-existent) music lessons company, “Evolving Music Education”. I was searching for a word that really encapsulated how I approached music education, and I landed on “Evolving” because my aim was always to grow and improve. It turns out this is very much how I approach all work, endeavers, and life in general.
Plus, in 2010 “evolvingseo.com” was still available for $9.99 so it was a no brainer to call my company Evolving SEO”
However, it’s all about what you are looking for in your company’s name that matters, at the end of the day. David Hoos, Head of Marketing at The Good says, “Our name came out of our mission to remove all the bad online experiences until only the good remain, so ecommerce companies can realize their full potential”.
When asked about whether this has given him any problems on the SEO front, he says, “With a name like The Good, we’ve always been aware that it may get lost among generic usage all over the internet. Instead, we’ve dedicated far more time and energy to producing content around our target audience’s pain points and sought to rank for those keywords instead of worrying about our branded keyword rankings. We believe those will organically rise over time as we succeed in other areas.”
Buying a domain requires you to have a few more things in mind as well. Here are some of them:
- Avoid names that are too long – everythingaboutyourgrowthmarketing.com is hard to remember
- Try and get the .com domain unless you have a good reason for choosing another – Avoid buying .us or .biz domains; summitdigital.com is the natural thing that people want to search for, not summitdigital.us or summitdigital.biz
- Pay attention to copyright infringement – You’ll want to make sure that this doesn’t cause issues to your business in the future. When we spoke to Lonnie Ayers of SAP BW Consulting, Inc., he recollected how they, “named it SAPBWConsulting (and made sure it wasn’t infringing on SAP)”. You’ll want to make sure that your business steers clear of such a scenario.
- Avoid resorting to adding irrelevant prefixes/suffixes to your agency name just because ‘agencyname.com’ was not available – nobody will imagine that your agency called Everest Creatives has a domain name like geteverestcreatives.com or everestcreativeslabs.com. If the domain you want is ‘Everest.com’, and that’s not available, then go for standard agency suffixes like everestagency.com or everestmarketing.com
- Don’t resort to dropping vowels/characters just because of domain availability – Everest Creatives just sounds much better than Evrst Creatives
Now that we’ve covered some basic dos and don’ts of naming/renaming your agency, let’s get into how you can come up with a name that will represent you and your agency.
How to Name Your Agency in 4 Simple Steps
Step #1: Start Ideating
To get started, you’ll need to first come up with a list of things (keywords, essentially) that represent your agency and what you do. Think of ideas that you want it to represent. Do you want it to say “new age”? Do you want it to talk about helping businesses scale? Do you want it to sound grounded? Come up with ideas that you can think of for all these scenarios. You can take a look at popular company name styles if you’re unsure about where to start.
Andrew Akesson of Venn Digital says:
“Venn Digital is named what it is because of a man called John Venn, who created the Venn Diagram.
As our agency deals with the following three pillars – Creative, Strategy and Technology (we design, strategize for marketing and have built our own CMS), so it made absolute sense to have a brand name that shows how we are able to integrate all of these practices together, under one digital agency.”
Always bounce your ideas off someone when you’re coming up with names. Two heads are definitely better than one in this kind of a scenario. Read about how famous companies came up with their names to inspire you if you’re having trouble getting creative.
When asked how he came up with the name for his agency, Joseph Robison of Green Flag Digital says:
“My company’s name, Green Flag Digital, came from a few different sources that inspired me. The first was that rather than a “red flag” being something negative and a penalty, a “green flag” was a positive symbol. My consultancy started around the time when a lot of Google penalties were coming out and the SEO landscape was shifting, so it was a nod to that.
Second, I don’t really follow car racing, but I was aware that a green flag signaled the start of a race. So when you think about a green flag, you think about progress, and getting started fast. The third nod is that my family is Irish, and the green flag is highly associate with Irish independence, so I thought that was a cool nod as well.
And finally, I’ve worked with a few organic and environmental brands in the “green movement” so, the green flag is somewhat of a reference to that. At the end of the day, like many companies, it was a name that was somewhat inspired by a lot of sources, and I just stuck with it. I’m glad I picked it as it’s worked out for me so far!”
One of the most common things that people do is pick a word and find what the term translates to in another language. This can be especially useful if you want to use only one word to represent your company.
Aslihan Buner of Kayako says, “The name Kayako is of Japanese origin and means “Gift of god”. We wanted our technology, ease of use and solutions be a gift for our customers.”
Another example of drawing inspiration for your company name from other languages is the story behind how Lolly Spindler, founder of Crea Content Marketing came up with the name for her company.
“I chose Crea because it works in both English and Spanish, and since I’m bilingual, I wanted a business name that worked in both languages”, she says. “Crea is short for create in English, and the verb crear in Spanish, which means to create. Since I’m a content creator, I wanted something simple and indicative of what I do.”
But this doesn’t mean that you must restrict your options to only words that already exist. Skype, the popular telecommunications product, means nothing in any language. Since the founders wanted the company name to represent “sky peer-to-peer”, they thought they would name it “skyper”, but the domain was already bought. They then decided to drop the ‘r’ and call it Skype instead, and that still ended up being a great name for the company. (Source)
Always have multiple ideas and options at this phase. Don’t try to build your company name just around one word either, that’s just going to end up limiting your options. Be flexible about your choices, and bear all the things that we spoke about in the beginning of this article when you’re going about this.
This is exercise should help you come up with enough keywords to help you start figuring out a name for your agency.
Step #2: Piecing Them Together
Once you have a ton of keywords readied up, see how you can piece them together to form your ideal company name. There are tons of tools out there that can help you zero down on your agency’s name.
Shopify’s Business Name Generator tool suggests names based on the keywords that you enter or the type of company you want to build.
NameBounce is a tool that returns alternative names related to the keywords that you enter. One of the features of this tool is that it only shows business names that have available domain names.
Namelix is another business name ideation and generation tool that suggests unique names based on the keywords that you type in.
Once you get a bunch of suggestions from the keywords that you have already picked, you can use Mergewords.com to choose one that sounds like the perfect fit. Here’s an example of how you can do it. You can get creative with it and go for even three word combinations, if that’s what you are looking for.
If you want to be concise about it and stick to one name alone, then that works too. Keep in mind that you might not have an available domain (more about this in the following steps) if you go for this term, however. In cases like this, you might have to be a little extra creative to get the job done. Having just one word for your agency’s name can be a great plus – you can read more about how one-word branding helps your business in this post by Virgin, another very popular one word brand.
When asked about Synup and why he wanted to go with a one-word brand, Ashwin Ramesh says, “I wanted to come up with a catchy name that would be easy to mention on the phone – something under six characters. I also wanted it to resonate with what we do, while being easy for people to remember.”
Step #3: Buying the Domain
Now comes the hard part. Remember how we spoke about checking domain name availability on the side? You can use Domainr to see whether the domain you want is up for buying.
For the sake of the domain URL and general ease-of-use, it’s better to go with a shorter name rather than a long one. Tminus30.com might be easier to remember colossalgrowthhacksmarketing.com, for instance.
If your domain name is available and up for buying, then all that remains is checking out step #4, buying it, and setting your company website up!
However, if you weren’t in luck, and if none of the options that you had in your shortlist have available domains, then you’ll have to do one of three things:
- Do something along the lines of what the creators of Skype did, and try to play around with the names that you have to arrive at a made up name that will still work for you.
- See whether any of the guys who’ve bought the domains already will be willing to sell their domain to you, or
- Repeat steps 1 through 3 and come up with another shortlist that will help you see your way through to step #4!
Step #4: Getting Your Online Presence Fixed
While this is not necessarily a part of naming your agency, it’s important to check whether you’ll be able to consistently call your agency using the same name, across the internet. You can use a tool like Namechk to get this job done.
If you notice that the name that you want to give your agency is not available on several social media websites, then you might want to devise an alternative name that you can use on your social media pages (like @everestmedia instead of @everest), or change your agency and domain name a little bit to accommodate this discrepancy. Having consistent NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) information across your business profiles is necessary if you want people to recognize your brand – you might want to clean up your citations if you’re facing trouble with this.
Once you’re done with all this, you’re good to get back to running your agency and making the money rain!