Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Business Names

In planning to start up my own software company, continuing from where my old partnership left off, I am trying to decide on a business name.

My ISV will be extremely small, and I want to be proud of that. I want people to feel like they're going to the butchers (me) rather than woolworths (competition), in that they will be getting personalised customer service with all the support they need.

I am thinking to go with something like X Software, where the X is whatever name I pick out of a hat that sounds good.

But to keep with the small ISV feeling, I was wondering why no one uses personalised names? What I mean is, why is there never "H & R Peterson Software"? What about "P. Smith and Sons Software"?

I like the idea of incorporating my name in the business as I feel it would promote the business as a small ISV. But do you think its wise? I know a name says a lot about a company, so I'm looking for your input.


Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Lots of people do "Name & Associates"

Some examples:

Esther Derby's Company:

Johanna Rothman's Company:

Karl Wieger's Company:

Brett Pettichord:
(Pettichod Consulting LLC)

These are all _independent consultants_.

If you want to be an indy, then "Last Name Consulting" might be a good idea.  If you want to write apps, then you might want to have a more real-ish sounding name.

good luck!

Matt H.
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Open a map and start reading.  Street names, parks, rivers, creeks and hills all tend to have interesting but not unpronouncable names which might give you a start.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

It's a tough decision. You could use your own (last) name, but I wouldn't do that with a software company. It depends on your name, btw. "Dingledong & Associates" doesn't sound very good, although "Chambers & Associates" does.

You could make up something like "NFTX Software". Sounds really professional. But, as you said, it might leave the impression of a really big company. Maybe use "GAN", which sounds like "can". Or "BUD". It doesn't have to mean anything, really :-D

Definitely _don't_ go with "ProSoft" or "WinSoft". That's just too corny.

Where are you located? If you want to sound small, you could use a city name. Like "Abbotsford Software", or "Chiswick Financial Software". (Isn't Fog Creek named after a town, too?)

Anyway, I'm full of ideas. Just say if you need more.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Try saints, amazingly.  My business name is a recognized alternative spelling for the patron saint of the type of client I expect to serve.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Well I'm from a very small country town in Australia, population of about 20,000. We have some pretty cool names around here, might be able to find something nice.

How does the name "Stitch" Software sound?

Why Stitch? Well when I was in year 8 one of my friends and I were watching a movie (I forget the name) and there was a chick in a bikini. My friend had a pillow on his lap and was pushing down really hard on it, and I asked what was wrong, to which he replied "I have a stitch". Since then for the last 7 years, everytime we refer to erections we say "stitches". It also evolved into anything that is considered good, such as cookies or beer.

Did you say tim-tams? Stitch...

No one has to know the origin of the name, but I think it has a nice ring to it. Professional?

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Naming a business is tough!

Naming the company after yourself can often make it have a professional ring to it, but as someone else mentioned, only if your name isn't..uh..corny sounding.

The problem with naming a company after yourself is that if re-enforces the fact that you are a small company and some clients get nervous dealing with companies that are just one person.

There's no right or wrong; just something to consider. A lot of companies attach the word "Group" or "Associates" to the end of the name to make it sound more professional or even larger. I've noticed that most of the companies that do this are consulting firms, not necessarily software companies.

Also, when you are coming up with name ideas, keep a browser window open so you can check domain name availablity. You might be surprised to find that even an unusual sounding domain name is already registered.

Finally...once you hit upon a name, have some family and friends give you feedback on it.  Don't put too much credence in what one person says, but if everyone cringes when they hear it, then maybe its not the right name. (And I wouldn't suggest posting your name ideas here either; too many different people to get any reasonable feedback. Stick with people you know.)

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

"Blue Sky Technologies Ltd
Software Design & Consultancy"

Worked for me.  Although one absolutely massive (technically, at the time, the worlds *biggest* company) did imagine I was a large company; big boss was angry that I wouldn't work the weekend, so in front of me dialled my 'manager'.. and my phone rang.

I was talking to a company that do media stuff once, called "Big Blue Media" iirc, and they said names with 'blue' in them were cool and high tech and professional sounding.

Know another small company getting bigger called "Deep Blue" or something.  Guess that is ok if they don't play chess..

i like i
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

IWBFR Co. - I Wanna Be Fucking Rich Corporation

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Don't forget your web site name, also. One problem with having a compnay name like "P. Smith and Sons Software" is that many people won't know what to type in when searching for your web site when they only know your company name - is it "" (with an extra problem of the double "s"), "", "", etc.

Philip Dickerson
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

haha, "Last Name Consulting" sounds pretty cool on it's own!

without replacing it with your real last name that is :)

Guyon Morée
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

personally, and I may be biased because I worked for some real doozies.. pesonally I think "Last Name Here" Inc, LLC, & Associates, & Special Friends, etc.. makes your business sound amateurish and frankly a little shady.

Like I said, I'm biased, but nearly every place I've ever worked with a last name in the name of the business was run by some megalomaniacal incompetent creep who I'd never myself hire for any services.

I think you're better off with the "Clever Name" Software formula.

As for the stitch story.. dude.. TMI


muppet from
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Stitch Software? Hmm.. If you can pronounce it quickly, it's ok. I can't - the ch S is in my way... Just try the phone answering routine. If I do it, it sounds like Stit Shofware. :-D

Check this out (no affiliation):

That will get you started.

Good luck.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

How about "Slack-Jaw Systems?"

Nice logo potential there.  Barefoot yokel, likker jug and musket.  Reeks of "cheap" too, invoking right-to-work states' depressed wages and benefits.

Drudy Mialnam
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The name of your company is almost irrelevant.  When I started my company and had to come up with a name I discovered that asking other people for suggestions inevitably led to them saying someone else's suggestion was stupid and then proceeded to offer a suggestion that the next person thought was stupid.  Your business gives meaning to the name, not the other way around.  Select it randomly and concentrate on your business.

BTW, "Woolworths"?  Did you just get released from a time capsule?

name withheld out of cowardice
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Company, drug, ... name generator:

Wednesday, June 30, 2004 let us manage your savings and investments. the finest weddingdresses 5 star cuisine

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Mr. Coward, I object.

It is true that a company's general marketing image is more important than it's name, but most companies don't do more marketing than picking their name.

In the current bussiness environment, you'll have to stand out from the crowd with a name, as well as logo and tagline, that fit the image you want to sell. _Especially_ small local companies. Sure, a shop won't sell more to a customer that is already in, but a good name will bring in more customers.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Hmmm.... business you want to continue after your partner quit.

Starts with X...


Seriously, though, you may find this book helpful (I did).
Positioning: the Battle for Your Mind
It's an old, popular, advertising book on "positioning" your company or product. Very enlightening.

Take two SIMPLE but very DIFFERENT words and combine them.

Example DiamondBullet
"We transmit your message as clear and sharp as a diamond bullet".
* Easy to remember (b/c it's composed of everyday objects).

Mr. Analogy
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

> "Woolworths"?  Did you just get released from a time capsule?

Australia *is* a time capsule ...

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I know, get this: Micro soft.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Polkadot solutions?

Last Name solutions?

Lemur technologies?

Mr Jack
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Polkadot Software sounds good to me.  Or, if you want to be more techy/clichéd: Polka.Software

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Be careful.  My Aunt and Uncle started a restaraunt years ago and insisted on using their names as the name of the restaraunt.  I tried to talk them out of it but they wouldn't listen.

Sam 'n Ella went out of business fairly quickly.

Made Up Name
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

"  Select it randomly and concentrate on your business."

Bad advice. Very, very bad advice.

Coward is right that different people will have different opinions. That's why you don't ask the JOS crowd for name suggestions.

However, to think the name doesn't matter and just randomly pick one would be an enormous mistake. The name does matter.

As techies, we don't like marketing people but they do know what they are talking about when it comes to marketing. People instantly think of things when they hear a name. If you have a soft or weak sounding name, people will subconciously perceive your company as weak or soft.  To overcome this, you will spend a lot of money on branding to try to change that subconscious image.

Colors evoke feelings and imagery, as do certain nouns. That's why a lot of companies use them in their names. Certain letters sound "hard" and invoke feelings of strength.

Now, nobody invoke Godwin's law, but I once read that Adolph Hitler said that of all the things in his life he was thankful for, his last name was at the top of the list. His reasoning was the short name, plus the hard "t" in Hitler gave it a powerful sound. Obviously, Hitler was a madman, but he possibly understood using imagery and names to invoke the feelings he wanted better than anyone else in history.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I always wanted to name a software company with a law partnership name (even if we weren't a partnership).

Like "Johnson, Zweig, Babstock, Johnson and Bowman Software".

Bill Tomlinson
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

> Like "Johnson, Zweig, Babstock, Johnson and Bowman Software"

People don't go to law firms because they want to. Also, a name like that creates images of big bills.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Do what HL Hunt (oil billionaire) used to do. All his companies had names starting with P. all were 6 letters long, such as Parade.

something to do with the word PROFIT was the motivation

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

In light of No's suggestion, I believe Hitler Software should be the name of your new company.

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Harry Beckwith's books all have very good sections on naming (among other things - I'd highly recommend all three). You might also like what you see at Read some of the Blog posts, and be sure to look for the link in the box in the upper right corner to the naming guide.

Good lick with your venture.


Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I trade as MentalArrow. First my isp registered the domain name as metalarrow!! Recently I helped my brother who manufactures Gym equipment part-time with marketing - his is called MetalMuscle.

So my friend Ognjen said 'Oh, brain and brawn!'

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Remember, you can only use your personal name once.

So if I start up Flamebait Software (hah, and you thought I'd use my real name in the forum ;) ) and it either goes down in flames or I sell it to somebody, I'm not going to be able to start another Flamebait Software anytime soon.

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Haha thanks guys, all great suggestions... but I really love the idea of Polka.Software. Keep your eye on the stock exchange for the next 2 years, Polka.Software will be number 1!

Thursday, July 1, 2004

help me here.... how does a company become #1 on the stock exchange?

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Polkadot-phil, asking for business-naming advice on a board full of geeks is a mixed bag at best (although I have to admit you got a couple of pretty good suggestions).

If you're in the U.S., get in touch with SCORE:

They offer free business counseling in numerous different area of expertise.  I'm sure you could find a business counselor with experience in corporate branding.

Good luck!
Thursday, July 1, 2004

How about Oblivion Limited?  ;-)

Thursday, July 1, 2004

>> help me here.... how does a company become #1 on the stock exchange?

It'll get so rich I buy all the stock in the world and no one else will have any.

Thanks for the score link christopher!

Friday, July 2, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home