Organization naming – first steps

Get started with your organization naming process by building a master list of name choices. How to think about and categorize names.


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Ready to start your organization naming process? Whether you are working with an internal team or an outside agency, the first step is build a master list of possible names.

A strong master list includes as comprehensive a range of organization names as possible. You achieve a wide range by considering names that differ from each other in two ways: by name type and name construction.

Organization naming: How to categorize new names

Most names can be described by their type and construction. Name types range from descriptive (or literal) to abstract.

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Name types:

  • Descriptive – names that state the message simply and clearly (General Motors, Marin Abused Women’s Services)
  • Evocative – names that suggest the message emotionally or psychologically (Oracle, Verizon, Duracell)
  • Abstract – names that attract the demographic without addressing the message directly, or perhaps not at all (Apple, Xerox, Johnson & Johnson)

Descriptive names are less distinctive, while evocative and abstract names are more distinctive.

How do you know you need a new organization name? Click to find out

Name Constructions

Besides being defined by a name type, names can be categorized by construction. A name will fall in a range from real words to coinages. Name construction types

  • Real Words and Phrases – usually English in the US (Old Spice, Yahoo)
  • Acronyms – YMCA, CIA, etc.
  • Double-Barrels or Composite Words – usually two words joined together without a space (ShopRite, Facebook)
  • Coinages – there are many ways words can be coined or invented, including:
    Blended or Fused Words – parts of two or more words blended together (Verizon, Dryers)
    – Extended Words –
     words with extra letters, syllables, or non-traditional suffixes added (Lucida, Napster)

    – Strongly Coined Words –
     may or may not have any apparent meaning  (Xerox, Plurk)

Identifying name type and construction: Examples

Xerox: Name type: abstract; Name construction: strongly coined
General Motors: Name type: descriptive; Name construction: real words
Apple: Name type: abstract; Name construction: real words
FaceBook: Name type: evocative; Name construction: Double barrelNow, use your understanding of name type and construction to ensure your naming process starts with a wide range of name choices.

About our naming partner

This content was shared by our naming partner Richard Loranger. Since 2007, he has completed more than eight hundred assignments for over one hundred twenty different naming and branding groups, including names for new products, master brands, corporate services, places, architectural structures, and dozens of taglines – over a broad range of industries. He can be reached at [email protected], and you can read more about his background and services at

About us

LevinsonBlock is a Brooklyn-based healthcare marketing agency that specializes in mid-sized organizations. Our clients include healthcare providers such as FQHCs, disease foundations, and healthcare technology firms.
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