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How to name a company

Naming a company can be tough. It’s one of those things that can be easily over-thought and can delay you from really getting down to the important work on your new venture. Have no worries, here are a few guidelines on how to name your new startup.

Syllables

Syllables can say a lot; the fewer the cooler, the longer the more responsible.

Newer startups typically have two to three syllables. They’re mash-ups of old words spelled a new way, or just new words. Like any other piece of marketing, you have to think about what it all says. Snappy two syllable names promote coolness, trendiness, newness, and quirkiness. Names such as Google, Apple, Zynga, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, and Instagram all fall within that two to three syllable limit.The more syllables the more responsible you are. Think investment houses, hospitals, insurance companies, banks —  they usually have three or more. Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Johns Hopkins, Charles Schwab, Nationwide. I know what you’re thinking, what about Geico? Well, Geico is actually an acronym: Government Employees Insurance Company, you can see why they shortened it.


Your Name

You should only name the business after yourself if you’re within any service industry or any market that would be improved by naming it after yourself. Be careful if your name’s hard to spell, or sounds dumb. Maybe your last name sounds great, like Abercrombie, or your brand is your name, like our friends over at Rabil Co. Also, back to you being a service company, it can help if customers know that they’re talking to the person with their name on the door. Personification is a great way to make your business relatable.   


Business Structure

One of the biggest mistakes we see is the overuse of “LLC” or “Inc.” after a company. Nobody but your lawyer and accountant care how your corporation is structured. If this is here to say “look at me, I’m a real company” it has just done the opposite. This is a very old-school way of thinking — like, Rockefeller oldschool.  


Musicality of Language

“Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate. Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date.” Take a moment to read that again, but do it outloud this time. Shakespeare is Shakespeare because he understood the musicality of the sounds the words make. The soft “sh” with “shall”, and the hard “da” on “day”, anchoring the end of the sentence.

The same principles apply to your new name. Some words just sound great together. Try thinking of some names and words that you like, and then break down what sounds make them up.


The Turn

A turn is when something is one way, but then in the end it’s flipped to be something totally unexpected. Think second part of the three steps to all magic tricks as told by Sir Michael Caine in the Prestige. Our favorite example is Industrial Light and Magic. They’re a special effects company that did a ton of famous stuff, like Star Wars to name one. The first part “Industrial Light” could be written off as just another lighting company but the “and Magic” adds something so special. It’s a turn on a boring name. It’s like saying “Bob’s Tires and Jetpacks” or “The Law Offices of Captain America”.


Our Name

Why Kapowza? It comes from episode 199 of the Simpsons. The episode, entitled “Girly Edition” revolves around Lisa starting a kids-news program. Bart ends up being the co-anchor and eventually the generic marketing character defends Bart being there by telling Lisa that “Bart has a certain something that can’t be learned, he has zip, zorp, kapowza.”

Analyzing it a bit, it falls within the syllable limit. It’s also memorable. It’s a conversation starter. We get the question “Kapowza, eh?” quite a bit at events. Also, who doesn’t like the Simpsons (the first ten seasons).


Your Turn

First ask yourself, what do you want this new company to be about? What do you want to say? You’re going to be saying it over and over for a long time. It’s going to come to define your life, at least for a little while. Make sure it’s something you’re not embarrassed to speak out loud. Take the name out for a test drive but introducing yourself, or answering the phone with it. Be sure to search it and check to see if the domain is free (don’t worry if you can’t get the .com).

If all goes according to plan this company will be what you become known for, make sure it’s a name you’d be proud to have next to your own.

 

Hey Look Down Here

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