business man deep in thought

You’ve got a great business idea. Maybe even partners, investors, and office space.

What’s your company’s name? Wait, what was that again?

Your business’ name has to be one that will stick in people’s minds. This article in Entrepreneur shows what the science of memory can teach us about coming up with an unforgettable business name.

Consider the sight and sound of a name

In the Entrepreneur article, Aaron Keller writes that all of our senses work to encode store and retrieve information. But sight and sound are most important. So make it sing. He gives examples of nice word combinations such as cellar door and freaky Friday.

This article in Small Business BC also recommends alliteration and cites the success of Coca-Cola, PayPal, or Gorilla Glue. The repeated sounds aid memory strength, according to an article in Psychological Science.

Scrabble can help

Entrepreneur recommends using letters that have high point values in Scrabble: J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, and Z.

“This less commonly found attribute makes a name more distinct for encoding into memory,” Keller writes.

He also emphasizes that customers most often view brand names in writing. Make sure your business’ name will look good on paper. Brands such as OXO, for example, has what Keller calls “natural letter-form beauty.”

The name must fit

It’s also important to make sure the name is a good fit. “Do this by being relatable through contextual meaning,” Keller writes. “For example, naming a small pillow company Microsoft today would be odd, but 100 years ago it may have worked.”

The more physical and tangible a word is, the easier it will be to remember, Keller writes, citing a concept brothers Dan and Chip Heath wrote about in their book, Made to Stick. “It gives someone an image in their mind and helps to store it as a memory. Take “mossy rock” vs. “soft place” as an example. One is an object and the other is a concept. Guess which one someone would remember tomorrow?”

Naming is part of marketing

Making your business name more memorable means you will have to spend less on marketing to help people remember it.

“The marketing and advertising community spends a lot of time and money to try to get people to recall a brand name. Think about all the jingles, repetition and focus on frequency in advertising,” Keller writes. “The purpose of this is to recall memories, pull them forward and then create favorable behaviors for the brand: mentions or purchases. Instead, pay a smaller price by starting off with a memorable name.”

Once you’ve got the name

Make sure no other business has claimed it online by doing a simple web search to see if anyone is using that name, the Small Business Administration advises. Find out if the domain name, or web address, is available using the WHOIS database of domain names. If it is available, be sure to claim it right away. This guide explains how to register a domain name. Also before you pick a name, use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool to see if a similar name, or variations of it, is trademarked.

So what’s in a name? Customers, profits… and we hope lots of success. So get to work on something memorable!