What’s in a name?

What’s in a name?

As part of our marketing services we are often called upon to help people name or rename their new business, brand or product. Learn about the process we go through and get some tips if you’re ever faced with this challenge yourself.

The brief

As an agency, our first step is to gather as much information about the product, service or new business as possible. This includes things like values, history, competitors and intended audience. Often at this stage the client has some ideas they’ve tried so it is good to have those on the table to build on, or know where not to go!

The brainstorm

The beauty of a team of designers and marketers is that we have a pool of people to draw ideas from. So, we brief the team and let the creative juices flow and ideas percolate. Everyone has a different way of freeing their mind to come up with ideas. Some think in images, some in how the brand will look, others look overseas for inspiration, while others simply let their mind wander. If you need a prompt to get started, going through lists of words to see if inspiration strikes can work. Some places to start include looking up Latin terms, modern or quirky baby names, places names, action words, colours, etc.


One of the biggest disappointments when it comes to choosing a name is discovering someone else already using that name – a quick check on https://www.business.govt.nz/onecheck/ will see if any similar businesses have nabbed your dream name and if the URL is available to purchase. You might also want to give it a google to see how else the name or term may be used too. Sometimes you might have to add a ‘nz’ or ‘consultants’ to the end of a great name just for your website – but that word or identifier doesn’t have to be part of your brand or logo.


It is important to test the name with a small circle of trusted stakeholders. Limit your pool as you can’t please everyone and ultimately you are the one that’s got to like the name. We always remind customers that it is a bit like naming a baby or treasured pet – once you choose a name the baby (or pet) becomes that name!

You also need to run the word through some practical tests, is it easy to say, will people be able to spell it, does it mean anything else in other languages and contexts and how will it look as a url – does it spell anything controversial when it is typed without spaces? Will it get shortened or abbreviated – how will it sound and look then? Will it match the branding and design you have in mind?


There are exceptions to every rule, but some of the things we like are:

  • Short names – they are easy to say, easy to brand and they fit nicely on signage, cars, etc
  • We like acronyms or initials (they don’t even have to mean anything)
  • We enjoy interesting letters (y’s and g’s) and rounded letters for design
  • We like descriptive and action words for the energy they have
  • We like literal terms as it is both a name and an explainer in one

The legal stuff

Remember there are steps you need to make outside of choosing a name to get your company set up. Visit https://www.business.govt.nz/getting-started/taking-the-first-steps/10-step-guide-to-starting-a-business/ to find out more about registering your name and investigating trademarks.