One-size-fits-all wisdom doesn’t always apply to a wide range of businesses.

October 21, 2019 4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

So it’s time to create a name for your new brand, business, product or app. You’ve read all the articles and guides, and now you’re even more confused than before. The biggest problem is that most naming experts have a specific clientele, as well as a branding and marketing philosophy. A bootstrapped tech startup, international rollout from P&G and small bakery in Maine will all need take very different approaches. With this in mind, here are three commonly accepted business-naming guidelines that may be worth reconsidering on your path to landing on an identity that you love.

Related: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming Your Business

1. Shorter Is Better

Unsurprisingly, many experts tout the importance of a short brand name. With the success of companies like Xerox, Zara, Nike and Tesla, it’s easy to see why this is appealing. But naming is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and there are too many examples of companies that are highly successful with longer names to believe that brevity is of utmost significance. 

Take Forever 21. The founders might have gone the short route and named themselves simply 21, but the word “forever” is so more emotionally powerful and brings in a much deeper story. Or look at Lululemom. This athletic retailer created a name that has no specific origin story, other than the fact that its three “Ls” gives it a bouncy alliteration and pleasant lilt. And isn’t Lululemon more memorable than Lulu or Lemon on their own?

2. Describe Your Company in the Name

Some experts love descriptive names, as they explicitly express what the business is all about and are believed to make marketing easier, and even cheaper. Home Depot, SnapChat and even Bank of Hawaii — these names convey exactly what the retailers  provide. But on the flip side are experts who believe descriptive names are boring, uneventful and limit expansion. The truth is that descriptive names are great for the right business, and should definitely be considered, but there are also many other options that might be more abstract, but are also evocative and intriguing, from Rolls Royce and Gucci to Urban Decay and MailChimp. 

Relate: Need to Generate a New Business Name? Here’s How to Get It Right

3. Use Common English-Language Words

Widely understood English-language words and phrases are what many people think of when beginning their journey to find a business name (e.g. Boost, Apple, Oracle, Amazon, Puma, Open Door, First Choice), but this approach simply isn’t as feasible as it was in recent decades. Millions of businesses open each year, and 6.7 million trademarks have been filed with the USPTO since 1985. Markets such as cosmetics, real Estate, retail and nutrition have become particularly oversaturated. 

Our company has performed numerous trademark checks on standard words and phrases, often finding hundreds of registrations of a single word or phrase across the trademark database. And this doesn’t even touch on the high costs in acquiring a great domain. With this in mind, other naming strategies become much more appealing, and it’s important to expand your vision. Here are more than 15 name-types you can consider when creating a unique identity for your business that will not result in a cease and desist letter. 

Whatever path you choose to take when selecting a name, just remember that it’s important to review as many options as possible, and consider breaking some of the rules. Follow the beat of your own drum and find your perfect name — whether it’s descriptive, playful, intriguing or anything else you can dream of.  

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