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The Perfect Way to Name a Company

Two friends of mine were struggling to name their new company. I was tired of hearing them argue so I reminded them the name of a holding company name is irrelevant: No concerns about branding, connecting to a mission, or reinforcing key elements of the business.
"I know," one said, "but that makes the name even more important. Since it doesn't have to serve a functional purpose, the pressure is really on to come up with a really clever name."

"Exactly," the other said. "Take the way actors name their production companies: Ben Stiller called his Red Hour, David Letterman's is Worldwide Pants, and George Clooney's is Smoke House. The bar is set pretty high."

Yep, these are my friends.

If you find yourself searching for an apparently clever and fraught-with-impenetrable-meaning company name, your problem is solved.

You could use a variation on the porn star name generator technique where you take your middle name and the name of the street you grew up on and combine the two. So, my porn name would be Jeffrey Dancer.

Wait -- maybe that's not such a good technique after all.

No worries, we'll just tweak it:

  1. Pick a major category. Natural elements, geography terms, colors, Latin words, metals, musical instruments... whatever strikes you.
  2. Pick another major category. Make sure the second category is unrelated to the first. Authors, cities, medical terms, bodies of water, chemicals...
  3. Then play the menu combo game. Choose one from Column A and one from Column B and put them together.
Pretend you chose the categories "elements" and "bodies of water." In seconds you can generate awesome names like:
  • Carbon Estuary
  • Palladium Creek
  • Tungsten Bay
  • Argon Draw
(Say them like you're announcing a band at a concert and they sound even more impressive: "Ladies and gentlemen... please welcome... Tungsten Bay!!!!**)

Or colors and cities:

  • Auburn Vienna
  • Moccasin Seoul
  • London Shadow (always feel free to flip the order)
In less than five minutes you've named your company.

By the way: Don't worry if you're asked what your company name actually means. Just gaze into the distance with a faint smile on your lips and gently shake your head as if the meaning is too personal to share.

Feel free to share your ideas in the Comments -- bonus points for eclectic combinations!

** I bet a lot of bands chose their names this way: Maroon Five, My Chemical Romance, Lemonade Mouth...
Photo courtesy flickr user Mike Licht,

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