We all aspire to be cool AF and there’s no better platform to exercise our right than to come up with a seriously great Company name. I still get a little tickle in my tummy from when people say to me ‘Pixelfish is a cool name bro’. I’ve been through the Company naming process numerous times and I’ve always been pleasantly impressed with the finished result, so it can’t all be by accident. So below I talk through some of the processes that I’ve used and I reckon can help you too. *Removes boasting cap*

Where did Pixelfish magically appear from?

I would like to tell you the name Pixelfish came to me in a vision, a gentle voice whispering in my ear or that eureka moment whilst doing mundane tasks. Alas, it was in fact the cause of much frustration over 6 weeks of trying to come up with something that would stick. Me and my then business partner Adam were constantly finding the names we did both like were already established Companies. 

We, and I hazard you too will be looking to come up with a name that fulfils the following:

  1. Something you like
  2. Something your business partner(s) like
  3. Something that’s memorable
  4. Something that’s available with Companies House
  5. Something you can purchase an obvious and decent domain for (I’m a stickler for having only .com or .co.uk domains, anything else and no one will guess it unless you tell them)
  6. Something that’s obvious to say and spell
  7. Something that positively suggests what you do

Name generation techniques

We found the most effective weapon in our arsenal was something they call a thesaurus, this strange and heavy-set book that tells you words that can mean similar things to another. Or more formally put, a book that lists words in groups of synonyms and related concepts. It’s an easy way to remember or find out some great words you can use.

We took the approach of finding two words that we could put together to create our new hybrid word/name. Due to us starting a design studio in the creative digital sector, we wanted at least one of these words to be related to this, hence the word ‘pixel’. We then opened it up to find another word that we could pair with the techie one. I could spin the story to say the second part ‘fish’ stems from the fact we founded in Bournemouth, a coastal town in Blighty but I’d be fibbing. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember where the fish part came from but I’m pleased we did.

Make sure you’re in the right environment

Coming up with a great name requires you to open your mind. This is where moving around and changing locations when going through this exercise can help no end. It’s no coincidence that we stumbled upon the name Pixelfish when going on an ‘accidental’ pub crawl around Bournemouth. I cannot over emphasise the importance of the couple of drinks we carefully supped. We all know how alcohol makes us uninhibited, a great headspace to be in when coming up with names. I should add a small disclaimer that I’m not advocating alcoholism and if you’re not up for alcohol, getting high off fizzy drinks and candy can also work well. At least this is what I’ve observed with my kids!

Does exactly what it says on the tin

I’m regularly finding myself saying Ronseal’s slogan ‘Does exactly what it says on the tin’ which in the context of their Company name is actually a bit of a misnomer. Take the name Ronseal and does it actually tell you what they do? No. Not exactly doing what it says on the tin is it. But I like their slogan anyhow, and you can still take its meaning and apply it to Company naming. For example, take one of our clients Picture Hanging Systems Ltd. If you were to hazard a guess, what would you say they do..? There’s something rather powerful about having a literal, does as it says name, particularly when it comes to online searches.

My opinion is these types of names lend themselves well to more industrial and trade orientated Companies. Not these trendy, hipster, remote-working, lifestyle, design tech Companies we run.

Big no no’s

  • Don’t pick a name people don’t know how to pronounce, it very quickly becomes tiresome
  • Please for the love of God, do not have the word ‘Solutions’ as part of your name
  • Don’t go bland unless the nature of your business is bland
  • Don’t make it your name unless you’re massively egotistical, a celeb or never going to be more than a one person band
  • Don’t go for what you think are interesting but obscure domain extensions, it’s .co.uk and .com all the way baby

Good luck with coming up with your new killer name. If you’ve already been through the whole exercise yourself, are you happy with the outcome or do you wish you’d done something differently?

Answering the question you never asked

Was there an alternative to the name Pixelfish you say? Well yes, there was actually. Pixelfish was very almost called ‘Atomic Egg’. I’ll leave that to you whether it was the right or wrong call.