Why Business Name Generators Don’t Work

These days, we depend on machines for just about everything. Machines wake us up, call us cabs, find us dates, give us news, etc. So why not depend on a machine to find us the perfect name for our business?

Business name generators have been around for a while, but recently they've experienced a boom in popularity, as domain registries and eCommerce solutions are using them to lure in new customers. The appeal is understandable. Type in a few keywords, and voila, an algorithm spins those keywords into a bunch of different names for you to choose from. But while in theory business name generators may seem like a shortcut to branding success, in practice they can do more harm than good.

Here's why:

Name Generators Don't Understand Context

Language is not a constant, it's situational. Words take on different meanings based on the environment they are used in. The audience, the current social emotions towards a word, and the context in which a word is used can all have a dramatic effect on the way a word is received and perceived.

The words used in a business name are no different. For example:

  • Words that were widely used buzzwords just a few years before could have recently fallen out of vogue, or be downright offensive now.
  • Words that have positive connotations in one industry may have negative connotations in another industry.
  • Words that are great for consumer facing brands may not be so great for B2B brands.

Branding is a form of communication. So your business name is often the first communication between you and your potential customers. That is why it is so imperative to make sure your business name doesn't inadvertently rub your target audience the wrong way.

Unfortunately, business name generators won't help you one bit in this department. They possess no social intelligence or cultural awareness. Generators can't tell if a name that they suggest is acceptable for your business, or completely inappropriate. How a word is perceived in a certain industry does not factor into their algorithms. Basically, you are on your own. Your business name is important, but it usually won't determine the success or failure of your company. Unless it becomes a problem, that is. Proceed at your own risk.

Name Generators Don't Understand Creativity

Let's pretend you are launching a dating app, and you need a name. You open a business name generator and type in the first keyword that comes to mind, "love". You instantly get 2000 different names containing variations and synonyms of the word love. So you repeat the same process with your other keywords (dating, relationships, matches, etc). Now you've got a list of 10,000 names. Cool! Your perfect name has to be on this list somewhere, right?

Not likely.

If you only consider names that are based on words that directly describe the core concept of a business, you are severely limiting your options from the get-go. That's because the majority of great brand names are built around words that are only tangentially related to the product or service the business provides.

Just look at the names of the top dating apps out today:

Tinder
Concept: Swipe. Match. Chat. Date.
Root word: Tinder - dry, flammable material, such as wood or paper, used for lighting a fire.
Reasoning behind name: The idea of setting a spark, of starting a fire, for romantic relationships.

Bumble
Concept: Women make the first move.
Root Word: Bumble - to make a droning sound
Reasoning behind name: The idea of a women in power. A queen bee. How bees communicate.

Happn
Concept: Find/date people you've physically crossed paths with throughout your day.
Root Word: Happen - to find or come across by chance
Reasoning behind name: It's pretty obvious.

Notice something similar between all of these names? Their root words do not have any inherent connection to dating, relationships, or even love. While the loose association between these names and their root words is relatively easy for a human brain to recognize, it's a near impossibility for business name generators to connect the same dots. They simply don't work like that.

When searching for a name, you want to cast as wide a net as possible. Most generators cast an awfully small net. So when you are looking to spark your creative naming process, know that business name generators are definitely not your tinder.

Name Generators Don't Understand Quality

One of the biggest myths about business name generators is that they save you time. The thinking is that because they give you more options faster, they help you find a name faster. But actually the opposite is true.

Why? Three reasons:

  1. A business name generator doesn't know the difference between a good and a bad name.
  2. The chances of a name generator finding a great business name are next to none.
  3. Even if it did find a great name, it would be incredibly difficult to spot, as it would probably be surrounded by a bunch of similarly structured names.

Business name generators cannot tell the difference between a good or bad name. And because there are MANY more possible bad names than possible good names out there, the names that name generators give you are mostly bad, and are very rarely great.

Spending your time combing through endless bad/mediocre names is a surefire way to burn yourself out on the naming process. It can flatten all the creativity, inspiration, and focus you had going in. So even if there was a great name in your midst, you'll likely be too detached from the process at that point to recognize it anyway.

A More Human Approach

There are a lot of things that machines do well, and it would be super hard to find a name without the connectivity and structuring of data that technology enables. But when it comes to the actual creative process of finding the perfect business name, human input is still a necessity. That's why at BrandBucket, all of the names you see on our marketplace are chosen, tagged, and categorized by real humans. Humans that also happen to be branding experts, with high social IQ's, in-depth knowledge of every industry we serve, and a sharp eye for potential. The result? A curated marketplace with only good to great names, that feels like a generator, but thinks like a human. Want to see it in action? Start your name search here.

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