Naming Your Business or Product: Latin Vs. Freeform

Naming Your Business or Product

Naming your business or product is not easy. There are a near-infinite amount of options for your name, and when you settle on one you may be discounting a dozen other better options. It’s natural to be anxious about the overwhelming number of possible names and find your self second guessing your choices, but you must learn to rule out a good chunk of the possibilities.

Invented business or product names are designed to avoid similar names and resulting legal trouble by following one of two approaches: basing your name on a Latin word or composing a completely original name.

Acer is a prime example of the Latin strategy. This computer hardware company was founded under the drab name Multitech International in 1976 before switching to the sleeker name Acer, which means sharp and able, in 1987. The name Sony also has its roots in Latin: the sound system manufacturer derived its name from the Latin word Sonus, which means sound.

The downside is these names sound stoic and distant. They are memorable, but they have no personality. This tone works for technology companies because they appeal to the pragmatic side of consumers. Some products are better served by avoiding the Latin route and crafting a name that has a life of its own.

Some products have names that don’t seem connected to the products. A lot of these have an interesting story behind them. Names like this have character. The name for the music-sharing service Napster derived from co-founder Shawn Fanning’s unruly hairstyle. Software company Red Hat was named after founder Marc Ewing’s Cornell lacrosse hat. Even in college, Ewing was known for his tech problem-solving prowess. People would ask around campus for the “guy in the red hat” when they needed computer help.

As with most things in life, there is no effective one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to inventing a business or product name. To selecting the best approach, deeply consider the nature of your product and what tone you want to set with your name and these tips may help you choose a business name that’s right for you.

Image by: Procsilas Moscas