How to Make a Business Name Memorable

Nov 17, 2023 | Listen

How to Make a Business Name Memorable

Have you ever wondered why certain business names stand out in your memory while others vanish into obscurity? Or how a simple name change can make or break an entire business?

Why Your Business Name Matters

Your name is one of the most important aspects of your business. It carries incredible weight because it’s more than just a label; it’s your brand’s first impression. And it can either captivate potential customers or leave them bewildered and uninterested.

So, how do you choose a name that resonates with your audience? Preferably one that can help push your growing business out into the world. Is there a brainstorming process? What are some naming techniques to help get you there? What’s in a name, and could it be the key to your brand’s success? 

Naming Insights from Alexandra Watkins

In this episode, my guest Alexandra Watkins, and I discuss the fine art of Naming. She shares invaluable naming tips: creating creative names,  effective brainstorming techniques, and even avoiding common pitfalls during name selection.

Timestamps for this week’s episode

09:17 The S.M.I.L.E process for choosing winning names

24:07 The S.C.R.A.T.C.H Process for Rejecting Names

13:52  Brainstorming Techniques for Business Names

38:03 Actionable Steps to Selecting the Perfect Business Name

“Anytime you’re having to explain your name, you are essentially apologizing for it, and that devalues your brand.” –  Alexandra Watkins

The S.M.I.L.E Process For Choosing Winning Names

Alexandra’s S.M.I.L.E system is a naming process to help you create a name that leaves a lasting impression, evokes positive emotions, and connects with your audience.  

  • S (Suggestive)
    • Choose a name that suggests something positive about your brand’s attributes or functions. Metaphorical names and those with positive associations work well.
      • Example: “Amazon” suggests something vast like the forest,  which aligns with the company’s goal of being a one-stop online marketplace.

  • M (Memorable)
    • Prioritize names that are easier for people to remember. Leverage pre-existing knowledge or concepts that already exist in people’s minds. This familiarity will also help customers remember your name.
      • Example: “Kryptonite” is the name of a bike lock company. It  is memorable because it taps into the existing knowledge of Kryptonite’s ability to repel Superman – it also evokes something really powerful, which is what you want in a bike lock.

  • I (Imagery)
    • Choose names that create clear mental images when heard or seen so that they will be more likely to stick with your audience. 
      • Example: The name “Retriever” was used for a dog GPS product. It immediately conjures an image of a golden retriever in people’s minds, helping brand recall.

  • L (Legs – Extendability):
    • Aim for a name that can be extended as a theme throughout your brand,  providing a wider range of branding-related products or services and other marketing activities. 
      • Example: “Eat My Words” is not only a memorable name, but it also has “legs” because it extends the food and beverage theme throughout its branding, with services like “Supermarket Special” and a blog called “The Kitchen Sink.”

  • E (Emotional Connection)
    • Your brand name should emotionally connect with people, spreading positive feelings when mentioned. These names tend to stick in people’s minds and get shared more often.
      • Example: “Retriever” also creates an emotional connection by making people smile when they think of a friendly retriever dog. This positive emotion enhances the likelihood of sharing and brand recall.
Anytime your name looks like a typo, it won't save you time, and it will be painful for your customers and you.

The S.C.R.A.T.C.H Process for Rejecting Names

The S.C.R.A.T.C.H method is a framework for evaluating and rejecting names due to various reasons including spelling challenges, lack of originality, comprehension, and pronunciation.

  • S (Spelling Challenge)
    • Avoid names with challenging spellings to prevent confusion and maintain a positive customer experience.
      • Example: “Krispy Kreme” introduces spelling challenges with “Kreme.”

  • C (Copycat)
    • Steer clear of copycat names that lack originality and can lead to trademark infringement. Copying can undermine your brand’s uniqueness.
      • Example: Yogurt chain Pinkberry and all the copycat names, including Yo Berry, Bliss Berry, Yum Berry, Cool Berry etc.

  • R (Restrictive)
    • Choose a name that doesn’t limit future growth and expansion.
      • Example: “Hotel Tonight” limited its growth potential when it expanded beyond last-minute bookings, whereas the name “Get A Room” would have allowed for broader services.

  • A (Annoying)
    • Avoid names that frustrate customers, such as those with confusing numerals or backward spellings. Keep your name simple and straightforward to enhance customer engagement and retention.
      • Example: With a name like “Coast2Coast”, you’ll forever have to explain to people that the 2 is a numeral. 

  • T (Tame)
    • Ensure your name stands out in a crowded marketplace. A tame name can blend into the background while a unique and attention-grabbing name, like “Eat My Words,” can help you stand out.

  • C (Curse of Knowledge)
    • Avoid using foreign words, expressions, or ambiguous terms in your name. You might alienate your audience because they don’t understand the meaning, leading to confusion.

  • H (Hard to Pronounce)
    • Choose a name that’s easy to pronounce to prevent embarrassment or discomfort for your customers. Challenging names might repel potential customers.

“Brainstorming in a conference room, in a white room, staring at a whiteboard, and expecting colorful names to materialize…that’s not how good names happen.” – Alexandra Watkins

Brainstorming Techniques for Business Names

When brainstorming names, use resources like thesauruses, dictionaries, and rhyming tools. These help generate ideas beyond a blank slate. 

AI tools like ChatGPT can also help with ideation, while exploring stock photo libraries for visual inspiration for your product or service is useful too. Looking at tagged keywords can also trigger creative insights.

However, while these tools are valuable for initial ideas, the expertise of naming professionals is still crucial for selecting the best name.

Don't make your name difficult for people to pronounce. Just think of a time you've been in a foreign restaurant, but you couldn't pronounce the name of the dish. No one wants to embarrass themselves by pronouncing your name.

Actionable Steps to Selecting the Perfect Business Name

  1. Explore Creative Tools

Use resources like stock photo libraries, thesauruses, and rhyming dictionaries for inspiration.

  1. Take the Smile and Scratch Test

Visit to access free tests that evaluate your potential names through the S.M.I.L.E and S.C.R.A.T.C.H methods.  

“Your name should only be pronounced one way. Otherwise, it’s going to sound like 3 different brands.” –  Alexandra Watkins


  • The S.M.I.L.E process creates memorable names by suggesting positive attributes, leveraging familiarity, evoking imagery, offering branding flexibility, and fostering emotional connections.

  • The S.C.R.A.T.C.H method helps evaluate and reject names based on spelling challenges, lack of originality, limitations, annoyances, complexities, and pronunciation issues.

  • When brainstorming names, use various methods to jump-start your creativity. However, consider approaching naming professionals for help. 


Read More

About guest – Alexandra Watkins

Founder and Chief Innovation Officer

Eat My Words

Alexandra is a leading and outspoken authority on brand names with buzz. For nearly 20 years, she and her naming firm, Eat My Words, have created love-at-first-sight brand names for countless companies, including Amazon, Coca-Cola, Disney, Twitter, and Google. 

Her breakthrough creativity book, “Hello, My Name is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick,” was named a Top 10 Marketing Book by Inc. Magazine. Her name hall of fame includes the Wendy’s Baconator, Neato robotic vacuum, Burger King’s Mac n’ Cheetos, Spanish language school Gringo Lingo, and frozen yogurt franchise Spoon Me.





Free Test in Naming Your Brand: SMILE & SCRATCH Name Evaluation Test

Free Brand Names Mini Masterclass

How To Create Super Sticky Brand Names Online Course

BOOK: Hello, My Name Is Awesome 

About host – Kathy Svetina

Kathy Svetina is a Fractional CFO for growing small businesses with $10M+ in annual revenue.

Clients hire her when they’re unsure about what’s going on in their finances, are stressed out by making financial decisions, or need to structure their finances to keep up with their growth.

She solves their nagging money mysteries and builds a financial structure with a tailored financial strategy. That way they can grow in a financially healthy and sustainable way.

Kathy is based in Chicago, IL and works with clients all over the US.

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