How to Choose a Business Name, Part 2: Pronunciation

How to choose a business name for pronunciation

You’ve launched your site. Your first customers loved it…but growth has slowed. Wait…what?! Why?! Well, you’ve seriously disabled your word of mouth when you create a brand that people cannot pronounce correctly. It’s one thing if your brand is Cartier or Louis Vuitton (those brands probably don’t even want you if you can’t pronounce their names). But you want everyone (and their mother) to come use your site, so you need to make it as easy as possible for them to tell other people about it.

When choosing a business name, ask yourself:

How many variations of the pronunciation are there?
Take a good look at the makeup of your name. Are the letter and vowel combinations similar to dictionary words that everyone is familiar with? If your name contains letters that can have multiple pronunciations (like a soft “G” or hard “C”), is it pretty straightforward which pronunciation people should use?

Do users experience a moment of hesitation before trying to say the name?
Even a split second of delay between looking at a word and saying it out loud can indicate trouble. The pronunciation of your name should come naturally to everyone who sees it.

1. Email your potential domain name to five friends.
2. Ask them to leave you a voicemail pronouncing the name.
3. If they all say the same thing with no hesitation, you’re golden.

Finally, does it work well across speakers of different languages?
For instance, in English a “y” usually rhymes with “eye” or “spy”, but in Spanish a “y” rhymes with “see”. Also certain traits of the English language like the silent “e” at the end of a word don’t exist elsewhere. Take Skype for example—in America most users pronounce the name without the last letter, similar to “hype”. However, in some parts of Europe and the Middle East, the brand is pronounced like “Skypee”.

Want more info on what to look for in a good name? Checkout our full series on how to choose a business name.