Starting up a company? Choose a memorable name

Posted on the 30th September 2011

Before you start any huge e-marketing or e commerce campaign you really need to make sure that your company has been correctly named. And when you study some of the new successful start up companies (and some of the older ones) then you can see that huge amounts of research and expense went into choosing the correct names…or did it!?

The name Twitter was literally picked out of a hat. A small group of employees had a bit of a brainstorming session and then chucked the names into a hat. Chance decided on Twitter.

Foursquare is simply the name of a popular childhood game.

Aardvark – the website that you can email questions to, was named purely because you get 2 A’s in a row which puts it near the top of any alphabetical listing.

Spotify founders Daniel Eck & Martin Lorentzon just combined ‘spot’ & ‘identify’ to name their digital music service.

Zynga is named after CEO Arthur Pincus’ American bulldog, Zinga, which means African warrior princess.

After rejecting names like ‘Bouncepounce’ and ‘Truval’ Adam Goldstein’s girlfriend recommended they go for some sort of cute animal…and so ‘Hipmunk’ was born.

But it’s not only new companies, many old established companies show some decidedly odd name choices. Pepsi was named after dyspepsia (indigestion), which it was originally promoted to help relieve.

Founder George Eastman named the camera and film corporation in 1888. Eastman wanted a short name that was easy to pronounce and could only refer to his products. He later said that he favoured the letter “k” because it “seems a strong, incisive sort of letter.” Once Eastman decided he wanted the name to start and end with “k,” he played around with combinations of letters until he found one that he liked in “Kodak.”

And finally – my favourite; Upon its inception, Yahoo actually had a different identity: “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web.” Not surprisingly, that name didn’t stick.

So Jerry and David — co-founders and appropriately titled “Chief Yahoos” Jerry Yang and David Filo — turned to the dictionary to find something shorter. They say they selected the word “yahoo” because they liked its definition: “rude, unsophisticated, and uncouth.”

According to Merriam-Webster, “yahoo” also means “stupid” and is synonymous with “dimwit,” “doofus,” and “chucklehead.” Who could possibly miss those prominent meanings, you might be wondering? Why, only a real yahoo, of course.