Small Business Reading Room

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

What's in a Name? Inspiration

Many people begin the process of finding a name for a business by simply thinking one up. For the more creative among us, this might be fine. Others may find they quickly become stumped.

Before you worry too much about a name for your company, note that the name you use in the marketplace need not be the name of the company at all. For example, Pepsi is a trademark used in commerce by PepsiCo, Inc. (Or one of the other 150 various "Pepsi" entities that have been created in Delaware over the years). So the name of your company need not be the name you present to the world. The name of the entity need not change if you come up with a better idea. More on what is invested in a name in a later post.

Inspiration can come from anywhere. Here are some ways to spur creativity we have seen clients use.

Foreign Language: A client likes butterflies so she names her corporation Farfalla Corp. Farfalla is Italian for butterfly.

Initials: The most common way to name a company is to find a combination of initials for the people involved. My name is Alan Coffey, so I may try to create AC Corp. This type of two or three letter name is often taken. So look to adding another descriptor to the name - AC Construction Company.

Thesaurus: has a wonderful thesaurus function to help you find words that mean the same as some other word. For example, you may want to call your company Smart Solutions Inc. If that name is taken, or if you think it too obvious, you may choose Noetic Solutions Inc. instead.

Dictionary: It is always a good idea to look up the words you use in your name. You never know when some obscure reference will make your name look really silly to someone.

Art: Sometimes inspiration comes from art. Imagine that. Look, listen and think about what you like in art. Maybe the name of a famous painting would describe your vision of your company best - But be careful of trademarks, copywrites and patents (more on them in a coming post).

A surprising source of inspiration, at least in the USA, is license plates on automobiles. Some of the abbreviations found on these little billboards are fantastic... AV8R = "Aviator", for example. There are galleries all over the net of license plates. Here is one that collects internet related plates. My favourite plate of all time is CU L8R on a modified Mustang GT.

Another way to name a business is to be descriptive of what the business does or sells. Corporate Management Inc. is fairly straight forward. Acme Office Supplies, Inc. is too. These names can be boring, but if they tell the customer in a crowded marketplace exactly what you do and sell, one of these may be the best choice.

Name availability and reservations are available online with the Delaware Division of Corporations. However, Delaware Intercorp, Inc. advises you NOT to reserve your name directly with the Division. It is much easier, and cheaper, to reserve it through us. You may check to see what names are being used that are similar to what you want on the Division Website.

My next post will outline some of the ways you invest in a name once it is chosen.


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Delaware Intercorp, Inc.
113 Barksdale Professional center
Newark, DE 19711-3258

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