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Naming a New Company

Lyon, France Train Station

Somewhere in Lyon, France, a company named Matrice owns the domain I want.

Matrice Consulting just celebrated our ten-year anniversary in August. Looking back, I found that one of the most difficult steps of starting a new company is creating a good name.  I formed my company name after watching a trailer for a movie; I merged my first and last names, added ‘Consulting’ to describe what we do, and voilà!  We had a name and an identity.  I have assisted in naming a couple of other companies and the decision process is difficult, and even more so when you consider Internet presence, social media, and domain names.  In this modern age, you have to consider all the following:

  • Is your name being used by another company, or is it similar enough to cause confusion? Believe it or not, we are not the only Matrice out there.  When I selected our name, we were the only Matrice Consulting, though there is a firm in Argentina that now shares our name.  A search of your state’s division of corporations is a good place to start.  Being sued for using a similar name or being a copycat is not a good way to start a new business.  I was helping develop a new name for a company and we came up with a great name, except that it was taken by a UK company, a very big company.  We scrapped that name in a hurry!
  • Can you secure a good domain name to complement our company?  We had to settle for matricellc.com , as matrice.com was already taken by a technology company in Lyon, France.  A long domain name is memorable, but long names are prone to misspellings and will make for long email addresses. Example:
    • [email protected] does not work out too well on a business card;
    • [email protected] works better.
  • Does your company name mean something else in another language, particularly a common languages in the U.S. such as Spanish or French?  Assento…that’s a nice name.  Too bad that it means ‘toilet seat’ in Portuguese.
  • Is your name memorable or ‘sticky’?
  • Does it make sense for your company?
  • Does it hold special meaning for you or your industry?
  • How will it be perceived in the public eye?
  • How does it sound when you say it?  Is it easily pronounced or mispronounced?  Honestly, Matrice was the best name I devised, but everybody mispronounces it: mattress and muh-TREESE are the most common pronunciations (its pronounced MAY-triss). Lesson learned.
  • I would recommend doing a focus group of trusted partners, friends and colleagues to try names.  Give them a few names and ask them to give critical feedback to help you find the best name for your company.

Would I select the name Matrice Consulting again, give what I’ve learned?  Probably not.  But I have applied these lessons in the other companies that I’ve helped name, including Hot Sun Labs (nutraceuticals), Equivalence Capital (commodities firm), and South Beach Exchange (e-commerce, retail).

Here are some interesting company names that I’ve come across lately:

  • oMoveo Labs – Design firm that has done some work for us; notice the name looks like a vehicle, which is complementary to the name
  • WooThemes – WordPress theme developer
  • Smashing Magazine – Web development online magazine
  • Fluency Media – Internet marketing firm

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