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19 Types of Business Name

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Business names include names for legal entities and names used for marketing purposes as a trade name. A catchy, inspiring and trustworthy sounding name may help a business to gain customers and brand recognition. Choosing a name involves constraints such as trademark conflicts and availability of domain names. As such, it is common for businesses to put significant creative effort into researching and picking a name. The following are common types of business name.


The name of a founder. For example, Toyota is based on the name of the founder Sakichi Toyoda.


It is surprisingly common to pick a name that is considered lucky according to culture and superstition. Toyota cars were originally sold under the name Toyoda but the name was changed because Toyota in Japanese, トヨタ, has 8 brush strokes and that's considered lucky.


It is common for small businesses to pick functional names that describe exactly what the business does. This is useful if you don't intend to spend resources on branding. For example, a name such as "Dave's Carpentry" directly describes what a business offers.


Large firms often invent a short new word to describe a business that is easy to pronounce and remember for branding purposes. Invented names may be based on wordplay such as contractions of words and phrases.

Culture & History

Using terms from culture and history. For example, Nike is an ancient Greek goddess of victory.


Inspiration from fiction such as characters, places, concepts and fictional companies. For example, Starbuck is a character in the book Moby-Dick.


The names of places. Although Starbuck appears in Moby-Dick, the name Starbucks was originally inspired by a mining town called Starbo.

Local Names

If you intend to mostly market your products and services locally a name rooted in local culture, history or folklore may be effective. Local names can also be useful when you want to highlight the source of your products such as wine from a well known wine making region.


Highlighting your ingredients. For example, a brand of organic food might go for a natural sounding name.


A name that captures your values and ethics. Common amongst organizations such as charities or companies founded with an environmental and/or social mandate.

Generic Names

Shell companies that are created as a legal structure need not have a descriptive name that pretends they do something. In some jurisdictions, it is common for shell companies to be given numbered names.


Quite a few large firms are known by acronym based names such as BMW, LG, KFC and GM.

Out of Context

Using a word out of context such as Apple.

Foreign Language

Short phrases from foreign languages. A common source of invented words created by altering spelling to make foreign words more catchy in the native language of the firm. For example, the brand Fanta is based on the German word fantasie, meaning imagination.

Unique Selling Point

A name that captures a unique selling point. If you're selling extremely high speed computing services, think of a fast sounding name.

Odd Names

As a general rule, odd names tend to stick out. This is well known, leading to a large number of new brands with odd names. As such, it is possible that this effect becomes less pronounced with time.


Use of emotion such as feel good or cute names. For example, Milky, a brand of Japanese candy.


Names that express the intangible elements of customer experience. For example, nightclubs often have posh or mysterious sounding names.


It is common for firms to have an anecdote about how their name was chosen that becomes part of their brand story.
Overview: Business Name
Related Concepts

Business Plans

This is the complete list of articles we have written about business plans.
Brand Strategy
Business Assumptions
Business Concept
Business Environment
Business Model
Business Name
Business Plans
Business Risks
Capital Structure
Competitive Advantage
Competitive Disadvantage
Cost Structure
Economic Environment
Family Business
Financial Risk
Innovation Risk
Management Plan
Market Analysis
Market Conditions
Market Environment
Market Research
Market Risk
Marketing Plan
Mission Statement
Pricing Strategy
Promotion Strategy
Return On Investment
Revenue Model
Revenue Structure
Risk Evaluation
Risk Treatments
Sales Strategy
SWOT Analysis
Target Market
Test Marketing
Time To Market
Time To Volume
Vision Statement
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