Look about the online world, especially at blogs written by high-priced naming consultants, and you are going to come across a lot of rules about what makes for any good business name. A few of these are pure nonsense. They’re not observations but opinions – shaky opinions, as well.
One example is, some naming consultants claim that a fantastic business name must be brief. Accurate, some are Google. Nike. Intel. Ford. Finest Invest in. Sprint. Deere.
A single expert says names should be no greater than three syllables, and a different says no greater than three words. Supposedly, shorter is more memorable. But this is not necessarily correct. Take into account Etsy, Boku, and Eska. These four-letter names are hard for English speakers to bear in mind because they involve combinations or sequences of sounds that don’t naturally occur inside the language.
When you look in the 2009 Fortune 100 list of America’s biggest companies, only 47 out of one hundred of your official company names fit the three-syllable rule, along with the number gets only to 53 out of 100 in case you look at their shortened company names (i.e. Liberty Mutual instead of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group). So any attempt to link shortness of a company name with financial results is absurd. When you did a similar survey of companies that land inside the news, I am confident that the outcomes would be identical.
Here are some companies with rather long names that do fairly properly in the marketplace:
- New Horizons Personal computer Understanding Centers (the world’s largest independent IT instruction firm – 11 syllables)
- Edible Arrangements International ($174 million in annual sales – 11 syllables)
- The Wonderful Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (nearly $7 billion in annual sales – 13 syllables)
- Orville Redenbacher Gourmet Popping Corn (#1 selling brand of popcorn – 11 syllables)
A longish name might be a smart strategic choice if it helps you capitalize on history (A&P was established in 1859), ground yourself geographically (“Philadelphia” has five syllables right there), or include essential industry words (like “miniature golf” in Eastern Miniature Golf Supply).
Admittedly, longer names are harder to manage on the telephone, in radio ads, in logos, and on signage. But no longer than 3 syllables or 3 words is a completely unreasonable absolute standard.
If you’re leaning toward a business name on the lengthy side, think about how it might be affectionately or not so affectionately shortened, and make sure the nickname or acronym is acceptable. For instance, Chevrolet to Chevy – good. Agonistes Shipping to Agony Shipping – not so good. International Business Machines to IBM – okay. Sutton Health Insurance Tracking to SHI… – oops!
Some companies with long names acquire a shorter version of it for their web domain, but when you do this, make sure the shortening is intuitive, such as for Orville Redenbacher Gourmet Popping Corn.
Don’t get hung up on the length of a business name. Much far more important than length are whether or not the name sits well on the tongue, tends to make sense to the ear, spells easily, is easily pronounced its first time seen, and sticks inside the mind.