Name Game: Scrabble anyone?
Name Game: Scrabble anyone?

A group of us sat down recently to name a micro site we’re planning to launch soon with all sorts of educational goodies for entrepreneurs. (Wait for it, I’ll warn you when we launch.) As usual, the meeting was thoroughly enjoyable, not just because of the group of people but because of the activity.

I have to say, I have always found the process of naming a company to be the most enjoyable part of starting a business. When you’re naming the business you have visions of future glories, you imagine yourself being interviewed by the press with everyone asking how you came up with such a cool name. The euphoria knows no bounds because at that point, the potential is unlimited.

Unfortunately it all goes downhill from there.

In trying to come up with a name, I’ve used every technique known in the book. I’ve tried naming companies after lakes, geographical features, monsters, Greek gods and a variety of other things. I’ve tried inventing new words (most success garnered here) as well as using random name generators of which there are plenty on the net. I’ve combined letters with numbers and words, all in order to get that mystical perfect name.

Lately I’ve been trying a new technique. I’m sure you’ve heard that we have a Market Intelligence team here at MaRS. What you may not know is that the team has a proper library along with several excellent librarians, lots of books that have to be shelved by the librarians lest they get out of order, and most impressive, we have the Dewey Decimal system (at least that’s what I think it is, as all of the books have little numbers on them and someone in grade two told me that those numbers were invented by someone named Dewey Decimal.)

Meanwhile, I’ve rambled again. Back to the new naming system. Within our vast library is a very important series of books by Dav Pilkey called “Captain Underpants.” In the fourth of this epic novel series, “Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants,” the self same Professor Poopypants lays out a naming scheme that uses a chart to determine a name based upon the initials in your name which are equated to special words. Under this naming scheme, my name is Buttercup Hamstersniffer. I really don’t mind this name as it’s much better than Laura Anderson’s (MaRS’ fearless librarian) whose name is Booger Diaperchunks. I’ve found that this naming system works as well as anything else I’ve used as all you have to do now to create a name is to use this base name and shorten it down into a name like Terster, Retsmah, Ciffer, or whatever. (Actually those sound pretty bad don’t they? I never said I was any good at this, just that I enjoy it.)

In finding a name I usually look for a few key things besides the cool factor:

  • The name shouldn’t mean anything as you’ll probably change the business you’re in several times before you get it right.
  • You’ll have to be able to register it as a company name.
  • You should be able to get a .com URL for the name.
  • A Google search of the name should bring very few results.

Back to naming our website. Thanks to Peter Evans (Doofus Girdlefanny), I think we’ve got a great name and I’ll leave you hanging until we launch it.

Charles Plant

Charles Plant has been the CEO or CFO of several successful software companies. He’s also been a management consultant, an investment banker, an auditor and an advisor at MaRS. See more…