Company name is a hard thing to translate. Using our experience in marketing translations, we have prepared a checklist of five hints for choosing a good international business name. Of course you know your business best, so listen to your gut feel, but also get some external help.

Focus on the customer

There is no such thing as a general international market. You are always targeting a certain group of people with unique languages, ethnicity and social backgrounds. So start choosing your name by getting to know your foreign customers. Chances are they might buy your product for completely different reasons than your domestic customers. Just check the competitors’ names from this market and try using solutions that have been proven to work there. Or maybe people would enjoy your product more if you just kept your current local name, as they would find it more exotic and unique? Maybe your own language name actually sounds good in English? Check what is means, including slang use in order to avoid appearing as a joke.

Keep it real

It is better to be simple and friendly than to try to look big and pompous. Try to stay close to the real people instead of faking a big faceless corporation. In fact even big corporations have numerous small brands appealing to regular people instead of one big logo. Being direct and transparent shows professionalism much better then overusing phrases like “international” and “global”.

On-line ready

Think about your web presence immediately. A short, easy to spell and intuitive name will make a convenient and practical domain. Even if it is already taken, try adding words “get”, “my”, “now” or a combination to find a free one. Again – double check if your name and the additional word do not form a hidden third word that would sound funny. Read it aloud to check how it sounds together and is easy to pronounce.

Avoid puns

Being funny breaks the ice but does not help to build trust from the customer. Do not look for a pun nor try to refer to a popular joke. People have a different sense of humour, and in another country it will probably be out of context. Jokes do not translate, so be cute and playful but avoid being odd. There are other ways to spice up your appearance to avoid being dull. Better to have a serious name with a bit less formal graphical design rather than be weird with your attempted joke.

Have it checked

Creating a good business name is tiring yet exciting at the same time. When you finally come up with a cool name, do not get too excited yet. Have a native speaker or a professional translation agency check it before you register a domain and commit the graphical project. If you are pursuing a serious business project, it is best to use a localisation service not only for the name but the whole marketing communication to translate your message so it is understandable and appealing for your new target customers.


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