There are a number of examples of very successful businesses that have unusual or non-descriptive business names. Some examples are Apple, Google, Yahoo! and Amazon. On the other hand, descriptive names such as ABC Technologies or XYZ Information Systems give customers some idea what kind of business they are dealing with. I like descriptive names, but I have to admit, it's the catchy, one-word business names that really stick in my memory.
With a really generic name, people will wonder what you're hiding - inadequacy, shady business practices, etc.
I would stay away from ay company name that is created so that it is listed first in the phone book, such as;
Catchy name doesn't have to be undescriptive. For example, "Fog Creek Software" is both descriptive and catchy enough.
Now that you mention it I remember reading the name Fog Creek Software the first time and getting connotations of some guys sitting in a wood cabin in some sleepy lumbermill town in Canada writing code. Maybe "fog creek" carries some implied meaning for New Yorkers? To me the associations seem entirely irrelevant to Joel's business.
One other thing to consider. The company name does not have to be a brand, as you are mentioning. For example, one approach is to just pick whatever you like as your company name, and brand only your products. This gives you more flexibility, as your business name is not tied to your branding. However, if you are running a consultancy, I guess this approach would not work, unless you branded your different types of services.
Being a New Yorker, Fog Creek means nothing to me.
There is also one thing which may mean a lot when deciding on a name: Is the domain name available? That quickly narrows down your options quite drastically.
Here I propose catchy names that are also descriptive:-
It seems a bit unsporting to include details of one of Fog Creek's competitors here.
I just list the facts. Would it have been more sporting if I mentioned that you can Google them? I see no difference.
If you're willing to pay, even if not much, for the domain name, it doesn't narrow your options all that drastically. I tried quite a bit of names while looking for one for a business, and almost all of them were for sale for under $1000 - $500.
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