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Turn a spreadsheet into a creative business name generator, and find the perfect catchy company name.

Struggling with how to name a business? Frustrated with online company name generators?

We all understand the need for a short, catchy, original name that conveys a sense of the brand. But we don’t know how to find that perfect name for your store, consultancy, or non-profit.

There are automated name generators available which you might have tried. But you only need to do one search to realize that naming a company not a task suited to a robot or computer program. A human needs to name a company because the company name is for other humans. Only a person can recognize a catchy business name.

The multiply method can generate hundreds of business names that fit your industry, and you can choose the best fit. The only thing you need is a brain and Excel or Google Docs or even just a sheet of paper.

The Multiply Method for naming companies

The multiply method takes two lists of words and combines each pair into a catchy business name. The result is dozens of unique words some of which are excellent options. The list of names can then be paired down based on personal preference, availability of domain names / social media handles, and availability of the copyright.

This option creates unique and short business names better than any other brainstorming method. In a world of global commerce, there is an increasing need for a unique business name. A short name is even more valuable because of domains and social media.


Step 1: Create 2 lists of relevant words.

A good name conveys a sense of the industry, product, and/or attributes. The name ‘Tesla’ conveys electricity and innovation. Fabreze makes you think of a fresh breeze. Neutrogena is a scientific-sounding word that highlights the ph neutral feature of the products.

Start by making one list of four to eight words that are associated with the industry, lifestyle or adjectives that you would like the company or product to be described as.

Now, create a second list four to eight words. Consider taking a different angle for the second list than you did the first. For example, if your company is applying existing technology in a new market sector, consider putting technology words in one list and words associated with your customers in another.

Example:

Hypothetically, let’s say that we have been commissioned a couple, Clay and Summer, who are using high tech sports fabrics to create clothes for skateboarders. We have to create a list of words associated with sportswear and a second list of words related to skateboarding.

SportsSkateboarding
AthleticSkate
ActivewearOllie
TechnicalGrind
WickingBurly

Step 2: Set up a table.

You can either use a pen and paper, whiteboard, Excel, or Google Sheets to do the next step.

Start a table with the number of rows one more than the number of words in your first list, and the number of columns one more than your second list. For example, if your lists had 6 words and 4 words respectively than you need a 7-row x 5-column table.

Place all the words from your first list in the first column, leaving the first cell blank. Next, write all of the words from your second list into the top row, again leaving the first cell blank.

If you are doing this with pen and paper or a whiteboard, make the table as large as possible, so there is plenty of room to write into the remaining cells.

Save Setup Time. The Multiply Method excel sheet setup for the method already.

Multiply Method spreadsheet (Excel)

Save time by skipping the setup of the table by downloading our preformatted excel sheet. For free or with a small donation.

Example:

We have four words in each of our lists for our skateboard technical clothing company. This means we need to create a 5 x 5 table. We are using Excel.

We place the sports words in the first column and the skateboarding words in the first row.

SkateOlieGrindBurly
Athletic
Activewear
Technical
Wicking

Step 3: Write the full word combinations.

Now that you have your table, you need to fill it with the combinations of list one words and the list two words. We are going to start with both the full words together.

Write in each of the blank cells the word in the top of the column followed by the word in the left end of the row. On a new line in the cell, write the combination in the reverse order.

You may see business names you like already but keep with the process. They will get even better.

Save Time Populating. Multiply Method Excel sheet with the words populating through the sheet.

Multiply Method spreadsheet (Excel)

Our Excel sheet automatically populates the all the word combinations saving a lot of time. For free or with a small donation.

Example:

We filled our table from step 2 with all of the full word combinations.

SkateOlieGrindBurly
AthleticSkate Athletic

Athletic Skate

Olie Athletic

Athletic Ollie

Grind Athletic

Athletic Grind

Burly Athletic

Athletic Burly

ActivewearSkate Activewear

Activewear Skate

Olie Activewear

Activewear Olie

Grind Activewear

Activewear Grind

Burly Activewear

Activewear Burly

TechnicalSkate Technical

Technical Skate

Olie Technical

Technical Olie

Grind Technical

Technical Grind

Burly Technical

Technical Burly

WickingSkate Wicking

Wicking Skate

Olie Wicking

Wicking Olie

Grind Wicking

Wicking Grind

Burly Wicking

Wicking Burly


Step 4: Combine the words together.

This is where the magic happens. You are going to make unique combinations of all the word sets in all of the cells.

For example, you could combine “Snappy” and “Apple” into “Snapple.” Another example is the combination of “Quality” and “Communications” into “Qualcom.”

Those examples make it seem easy, but it can be challenging. And some words just don’t go together in any reasonable way. Some collumns or rows may feel like pure duds, but try to work through them because you do not know where the perfect name will emmerge from.

We have a few tips from our experience:
Tip 1: Go for quantity over quality. If a name sounds like garbage, write it down anyway.
Tip 2: Take breaks. Even the smallest table can be challenging to do in one sitting.
Tip 3: Don’t fall in love. A cool name might emerge early but commit to filling our the entire table.
Tip 4: Fill out the table in any order. We tend to jump around as doing it row by row or column by column can be exhausting. Go where the inspiration takes you but fill out all the cells.

Example:

We worked through the table with this result.

SkateOlieGrindBurly
AthleticSkate Athletic
Skathletic
SkathleteAthletic Skate
Athleskate
Athlate
Olie Athletic
Olletic
OliathAthletic Ollie
Atholie
Grind Athletic
Grathletic
Grathlete
GrindleticAthletic Grind
Athlegrind
Burly Athletic
Burlath
BurleticAthletic Burly
Athbur
Athlebur
ActivewearSkate Activewear
Skactivewear
SkactiveActivewear Skate
Actiskate
Active-Skate Wear
Olie Activewear
Oliewear
OlieactiveActivewear Olie
Actiolie
Grind Activewear
Gractivewear
GrindwearActivewear Grind
Actigrind
Active Grind
Burly Activewear
Burlactive
BurlywearActivewear Burly
Actiburly
Actibur
TechnicalSkate Technical
Skatech
Sk8Tech
SkatnicalTechnical Skate
Tech Skate
Olie Technical
OlitechTechnical Olie
Techolie
Grind Technical
GrindtechTechnical Grind
Techgrind
Burly Technical
Burlytech
Burltech
BurtechTechnical Burly
Techbur
WickingSkate Wicking
Skatewick
SkatickWicking Skate
Wickskate
Wickate
Olie Wicking
Oliewick
OliwickWicking Olie
Wickolie
Grind Wicking
Grindwick
GrickWicking Grind
Wickgrind
Wrind
Burly Wicking
Burliwick
BurlickWicking Burly
Wickburly
Wicked Burly

Step 5: Pick the potential names.

You probably got excited about a bunch of the names as you were generating. Now is the time to make a list of those.

Highlight all of the names with potential on the table. The full word combinations are open to choose as well. Take all of the highlighted words and make a list of them. Making this list in Excel or Google Docs will be helpful for step six, but you can do this step on paper or on a whiteboard as well.

Example:

We pulled these names out of our table:

Skathletic
Oliath
Burletic
Skactive
Active Skate Wear
Oliwear
Grindwear
Active Grind
Burlactive
Burlywear
Burly Technical
Burtech
Skatewick
Skatick
Oliwick
Wickolie
Grindwick
Wrind
Burliwick


Step 6: Eliminate the unusable names.

You should have a pretty solid list of names going. Unfortunately, not all of them are going to be usable. Some may be taken by other companies in your industry and would be a violation of copyright to use. Domain names and social media handles may not be available

Example:

We are really excited about our list of names for our line of activewear for skateboarders. We cannot show the list to Clay and Summer, or client entrepreneurs, and get their hopes up over names that are already being used.

We knew that we wanted a .com domain and do not have the budget to buy one from a reseller or squatter. We knew the next most important thing to check is Instagram, as it has a thriving skateboarder community and is the hangout spot for our target audience. Twitter is also important.

I, personally, was sad to see Oliwick get eliminated at this stage, but such is life!

Lastly, we check with our team to eliminate names that may have unintended connotations; many of the words derived from “burly” were removed because it is associated with broad body types.

In the end, we shared four names with Clay and Summer. The potential names were Wickolie, Burliwick, Grindwick, and Skatewick. The entrepreneurs chose “Skatewick” as their final choice.

Unused?Domain?Instagram?Twitter?Team approve?CEO approve?
OliwearNo
GrindwearNo
BurtechNo
OliathYesNo
SkactiveYesNo
Active Skate WearYesNo
Active GrindYesNo
WrindYesNo
SkatickYesYesNo
BurleticYesYesYesNo
OliwickYesYesYesNo
SkathleticYesYesYesYesNo
BurlactiveYesYesYesYesNo
Burly TechnicalYesYesYesYesNo
WickolieYesYesYesYesYesNo
GrindwickYesYesYesYesYesNo
BurliwickYesYesYesYesYesNo
SkatewickYesYesYesYesYesYes

 


Colin Finkle

Colin Finkle is a brand marketer and designer with ten years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies tell their story at retail. You can see his work at finkle.ca

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