3 Easy Ways to Use a Foreign Language to Name A Startup
By: Carli Evilsizer | February 10, 2018
It’s surprising that some of the top articles for the Google search “Tips to Name A Startup” don’t suggest looking at a different language, especially with more startups being launched now than ever before.
The idea of entrepreneurship has become increasingly common recently with 5,734% more people launching their own gig in just three years. Barb Darrow, reporter at Fortune stated, “The research cited Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data showing the number of self-employed people in the U.S. has grown by nearly 150,000 since 2014 to 8,751,000—up from 8,602,000 by the end of 2016.”
With so many companies being started every year, trying to come up with a new, original name for your startup can feel like an impossible task! (Stuck with the brainstorming process? Read this.)
Company names in English are so overrated. Kidding! But it can be really difficult to find a great domain name for your startup. One of the most overlooked ideas for brainstorming a company name is to look at a different language. So how can you use a foreign language to find a great name for your new startup? Ut infra legere! (That means ‘keep reading below’ in Latin.)
1) Pick a Language Related to Your Product
Is your product made in a different country or use an ingredient from somewhere exotic? Create a list of words related to your offering and look up those words in the language most closely related to your product. Lopa van der Mersch, Founder & CEO of Rasa, suggests selecting the name that looks unique but more importantly has real meaning to your business.
“We wanted our name to be relevant to our product, which is an herbal coffee alternative that uses some herbs from Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicine tradition. We researched and did some brainstorming on different words from Ayurveda, and we liked that Rasa had many different relevant meanings, including taste, alchemy, longevity, nectar, and essence. We decided on Rasa because it was unusual yet easy to say, and had real meaning to our business and our product. If you're searching to create a name for your business, I recommend looking at relevant words in other languages, especially languages or cultures that are relevant to your business! Then go with something short & easy to pronounce that also has real meaning to your business.”
-Lopa van der Mersch Founder & CEO, Rasa
2. Play With The Spelling of a Latin Word
The most common language founders turn to seems to be Latin and for good reason! Since no one really speaks Latin nowadays, it will truly sound like a brand new, made up word. You can look up a keyword that you know you want incorporated into your company name like Jerèll Klaver, Vice President of SALUS®, did, or just start at the beginning of the alphabet like Jennifer Santoro, Co-Founder of Vaetas did. Once you’ve found the perfect word in Latin, play around with the spelling to create a brand new word!
“We started in our basement, put paper up on all walls and wrote down ideas. Our soon to be company would have a lot of products that had salt in it, so we looked up the latin word for salt, and went from there. We had a bunch of great ideas, and we knew we had to do a trademark search. Of the few names left that we could use we fell in love with SALUS, which is latin for Health, Wellbeing and vitality. Make sure you search the Trademark office to see if your name is available. We have to send out Cease and Desist letters all the time because other people or companies fail at this step and infringe on our registered marks.”
-Jerèll Klaver, VP of SALUS®
“A company name represents the foundation of your company brand. In being a longtime student of communication, I have known that the best brands stand for something deeper that the subconscious picks up on. So when the time came to choose a company name for our video technology company, we truly wanted to choose something that lived up to this model and standard. Founding a company in the modern day also has the challenge of purchasing the corresponding URL, and we have hit a saturation point with the English language. So we decided to look at other languages."
"One day it hit me to research Latin. I began at the beginning of the alphabet and found the word, “Aetas,” which means, “the age of.” I thought to myself, “If we put a ‘V’ in front of it, it could stand for ‘the age of video.” Then I thought, “Could it be that easy?” I went online, and vaetas.com was not taken, and was very affordable. I absolutely LOVE that it represents what we stand for as a company: building a fantastic tool for the age of video. I pitched it to my fellow co-founders, and we were off to the races!”
-Jennifer Santoro, Co-Founder of Vaetas
3. Find Something Easy to Pronounce
Do you manufacture all of your products in an amazing country that you want to brag about? For example, Steve Caradano, Founder of Vero Linens, manufactures all of their bed linens in Italy (fancy!) and wanted to ensure their brand was deeply connected to their Italian roots. (Or shall we say threads?) Look for a word you can that is short and easy for any English-only speaker to say.
“We manufacture bed linens in Italy, so we wanted to correlate our brand name with Italy. Because we are web based only, the name needed to be something short, relevant, easy to remember and spell. We did some poking around in Google Translate and were looking for words that meant real or genuine - we came across the word Vero - which translated means true or genuine. We thought it was easy to pronounce, spell and was certainly short. We needed to also be able to get a domain name that matched. Well, Vero is a popular word - but we managed to get www.verolinens.com .”
-Steve Caradano, Founder of Vero Linens
With so many companies being launched every year, entrepreneurs are increasingly looking for new words to help create a unique name for their startup. If you aren't finding the right words in English (or any available domain names!) it might be time to consider using another language to create a name for your startup.
RELATED: 11 Tips to Help Brainstorm A Name For Your Startup