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How to choose a product or company name?

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It is easy to become emotionally attached to a name when deciding on what to call your company. If you don’t yet have a company name, I would suggest referring to your product or service using a placeholder. You will probably even end up irrationally attached to the placeholder that you choose. If you build an amazing product or service, you can probably get away with a less than perfect name (80:20 is probably enough), but we use The Seven Name Tests to avoid common mistakes. 

The Seven Name Tests

1. The Sayability Test

If you say the name aloud, can the average person type it out. For example, we used to like the name Novafort. But many people (including me), drop the t when saying the name outloud… Is the name Novafor, or is the name Novafort? At this point, you’ve lost a couple of potential users, or you’ve incurred more cost. Are you going to advertise on Google for the keyword Novafor to try to capture those who didn’t reach your actual name.


Write the name on paper and ask people to say it out loud. You’ll be surprised.

2. The Spellability Test

Seneca was a name we liked personally, but if someone hears Seneca, a high % of the country will type Seneka into their browser instead of Seneca. We chose a name that was error-prone. Words that end with CA or KA are hard to separate when you hear them aloud. The same applies to the middle of some words. Should one spell Spellability or Spellibility? They sound the same.


Ask people to write down the name if they hear it aloud.

3. The Autocorrect Test

We loved the name It was an available domain, and sounded cool. Surely that is the way that most people think Aqueduct is spelt? This felt fun, but had already failed the spellability test as one had to spell a word deliberately incorrectly to reach us. However, compounding this, when you type the into your phone, it auto-corrects it to The default was that nobody would ever reach our website.


Try typing your name into Google Chrome, Notes & Safari. See if it is autocorrected. 

4. The Vibe Test

This test is biased by your personal experiences & associations, but it can still be informative. If you say the word Basilica, some people associate Ancient Rome, some people think of a pizza restaurant. However, some names feel more consumer and some names feel more enterprise. Checkfort feels Enterprise. Pumpit feels Consumer. feels Consumer. Finsys feels Enterprise. 


Some names feel more consumer and some names feel more enterprise.

5. The Trademark Test

If you legally cannot use your name, there is no point using it. Monzo is exceptional in this respect (they used to be called Mondo), however. having to change your company name is sub-optimal & unhelpful. 

Trademarks are limited to Classes
If someone has a trademark in Class 1 and you operate in Class 30, you can still apply for a trademark of the same name. It is worth checking if your service could potentially fall in an overlapping class though. 

Spurious claims
Some businesses retain law firms to police Intellectual Property and other things. If you get a letter complaining about your trademark, depending on your resources, I would probably seek legal advice. At Seneca, we received a letter from ‘Cegeka’ ‘s lawyer in the UK. We signed something limiting our trademark, but were later advised that their claim was likely to be unenforceable. 

Useful websites:

• UK:
This site allows you to find UK trademarks that will stop you using a name that you like. If you are a UK business and never plan to expand, only look at the UK trademark list.

If you plan to be international quickly, maybe look more broadly. 
• EU:
• US:


If you legally cannot use your name, there is no point in using it.

6. The Domain Test

Is the domain that you wish to buy, associated to your name available? A .com domain is better for most businesses but .com domains are expensive. The cost-benefit analysis is business specific. At Seneca, we bought and

I thought was too long. However, teachers were a customer of ours & some teachers were scared that the .io was a con. A .com domain is the most credible domain but comes at a price. We believed that our first choice domain was available for £8,000 via GoDaddy. However, we discovered that actually it was parked and the £8,000 was an estimate. The actual cost would have been well into 6 figures. 

7. The Length Test

The fewer syllables in a word, the better. This makes it easier to say and spell; and, for some reason, this usually feels nicer. However, the caveat is that short, easily pronounceable names are usually the most expensive domains. 


The fewer syllables in a word, the better.

General Recommendations

  1. Don’t spend too much time worrying about your company name. A couple of days should be enough. Then move on to more important problems.
  2. The Phonic Method - A way to come up with good company names is listing common word stems, like Nova & Book, and testing combinations together. Good word stems can come from 4-5 letter words, Latin prefixes/suffixes, animal names, etc. Come up with a long list of word stems, combine them and then check the domain availability & cost. Face-Book or Micro-Soft for example. 
  3. The importance of how ‘sayable’ or ‘spellable’ your name is depends on your audience. A company name is more important to a social network targeting every consumer in the world than a verticalised tool targeting 1% of data scientists. 

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