I’ll just come out and say it, there are a lot of unknowns when starting a company. Early stage founders are forced to enter unfamiliar territories, make gut instincts and wear multiple hats in order to keep this ship sailing in the right direction. One of these early obstacles is coming up with memorable brand name. And while choosing a business name may come easy for some, for most, it can be a lingering headache.
It’s true that some startups know what they want from the beginning, like Prezi, but these instances tend to be the exception rather than the rule. This happens mostly because there is no one way to pick a name, and there are as many options as there are paths to picking. Companies like Zulily chose from word-association lists, while brands like Weebly created algorithms with the sole purpose of name selection. And Erlich from the insanely popular HBO series, Silicon Valley, took a slightly different approach to naming.
Of course, there are rumored keys to success, like choosing double letters, as in Google, Yahoo or Facebook. Using high-point scrabble letters has also earned a reputation for making well-known names out of nothing. But for those looking to save some time or creativity, there are less involved solutions. In fact, there are a surprising number of business name generators just waiting for you to seek help. In most cases, all you have to do is enter a keyword or two that relates to your brand and the company name generator will magically populate a list of potential names.
Shopify, a Canadian company that offers software for ecommerce and retail point-of-sale systems, allows you to search for business names and domain availability simultaneously, saving you the stress of securing one and not the other. Just enter a word you want included in your name and you’ll get back a list of available sites. Once you try your hand at their free generator, you can create an online Shopify store or set up an in-person POS right then and there.
2. Name Robot
Name Robot is a self-professed naming machine that tailors your name to your needs. So whether you’re a freelancer, an agency or a startup, you can develop your own name with the help of their software. Once you register (which isn’t required with Shopify), you can run the demo for free and enter your business keywords with help from their Keyword Assistant. The freemium model offers priced packages between $32 – $225.
This one is proof that it doesn’t necessarily matter whether your domain matches your name. Similar to the way Name Robot allows you to select the type of name you need, Guru lets you choose which industry you’ll be working in, with options ranging from childcare and jewelry to religion and security. If you find yourself underwhelmed by the first short list, simply “Request Guru Again” until you feel moved. At that point, you can also check the name against domain availability and register open options immediately.
4. Lean Domain Search
Lean Domain Search was created by longtime web developer Matt Mazur. The beauty of this model is that it searches directly for available domains that incorporate any combination of your provided keyword. So while the name is still ultimately up to you, you can see what available domains might make the most sense when accompanying it. Be aware that the lists tend to be long and finding your favorite may take some time.
Like Shopify, Spaces lets you find a name and create a storefront in one fell swoop. In addition to name generators, though, they also offer a slew of other tools to help complete the package. You can find everything from slogan generators and logo makers to document generators and banner or QR code makers. Unlike other generators, however, Spaces monetizes by taking a percentage of your sales, where the first $50 you earn each month is free of charge and after that they take $9 per month plus a 3% transaction fee.
Image credit: Eat my Words
Wordoid is perhaps the most obvious outlier so far because, instead of identifying existing words for your brand name, the tool is designed to make them up. You can select the language and quality, as well as create the pattern within and set the length of the word. You can also opt to filter by available domain names. The alleged intelligent naming tool then provides a list of words that may be memorable even if they don’t make sense off the bat. The Next Web instructs company creators to “use Wordoid.com to generate fictitious word derivations.”
7. Word Lab
Founded in 1998, Word Lab prides itself on being the oldest, free and crowd-sourced branding community online. In addition to company names, you can generate taglines, product names and domains. Instead of entering keywords, though, the name generator suggests names at random. You could probably spend hours clicking “Get Name” until you find something that aligns. If you’re not that patient, you can get best practices and user-generated suggestions via the vast Word Lab forum.
Keeping with tradition, Panabee requires two keywords to generate ideas. With those, it provides name suggestions for companies or applications, as well as alternate ideas using “phonemes, syllables, abbreviations, suffixes, prefixes, and popular domain trends.” In a nontraditional spin, Panabee also checks the availability of app names, international domains and social media aliases to accompany your chosen brand. And unlike most sites today, this site has a sense of humor!
9. Name Mesh
With Name Mesh, you can select how many keywords you use to inform the generator. While it starts with two to three, there is an advanced option for four or more, where you break them into buckets. Once you’ve settled on those, Name Mesh categorizes them by type, ranging from common and similar options to short, fun and SEO-driven domains. The search settings allow you to hide registered domains and turn on or off various top-level domain options.
10. Names 4 Brands
Names 4 Brands has its own recommended strategies. For example, they claim that more than “80% of businesses around the world have been successful when their brand names end with a vowel sound.” Here you’ll find an assortment of search options including a business name generator, a random word generator and a names list. You can select the language, letter and count of a first word (and last, if you so desire), with an option to show the meaning of the suggested words so you can avoid any mishaps.
11. Brand Root
Brand Root provides what they call “brandable names organized by industry,” allowing you search by keyword or category. You can filter by the number of letters (four or five) and conduct a search based on your price point. It shows available domains and their respective purchase prices in featured, new and popular buckets. Following your keyword search, Brand Root shares a description of the domain name, as well as its categories, qualities and a recommended logo to boot.
There you have it! If you’ve been waiting on the right brand name to get your company going, look no further. Just take one of these brand name generators for a spin and set sail. And if you are still struggling to come up with a name you love, maybe it’s time to head on an adventure.
If you have any naming hints, please share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
Annelise Schoups is a contributor at Rewind & Capture. With a degree in journalism, experience in public relations, and an education in travel, she is passionate about cultivating knowledge and storytelling.