What’s in a name?
This isn’t a travel specific post. It’s just some of the things I’ve learned on my journey to make Wanderonomy into a full time paying job for me and my team, starting with coming up with a name.
It may be harder than you think to find a word or three that capture the essence of what you are trying to do, sell, mean. Naming your company, is like naming your child. You need it to be perfect.
Do you want to be unique?
The short answer is YES! Don’t be Cleo McDowell in Coming to America. Expect to spend several hours (at least) searching the internet for something that doesn’t already exist. My inspiration sprang from the J. R. R. Tolkein quote “Not all who wander are lost”. I knew I wanted wander in the name of my company.
And there are A LOT of travel companies with the same idea. A LOT. A Google search for Wanderlust returns over 100 million results. You don’t want to be one of 100 million.
Thankfully Google indexes the internet for us and you can skip a trademark search and it’s associated costs because you’ve found something totally unique. (NOTE: You may have to do a trademark search for a logo symbol later.) But you are going to have to get creative.
How to Make Up a New Word
- Use a foreign language word, Uber means above or super in German.
- Try a literary/historical/mythic person or word, Nike was the goddess of Victory, now it’s more known for Air Jordans.
- Transliterate a foreign language word, restaurant in Russian is pectopah, pronouced res-toh-ran so a quirky name for a Russian Restorant could be Pectopah pronounced pec-toh-pah!
- Try an obscure word, Palantir is a fictional magical artefact from J. R. R. Tolkien. (Full disclosure I’ve never read the books, but there is plenty of inspiration available.)
- Make a portmanteau, taking a new word by taking parts of multiple words and mixing them together a la Airbnb.
- Create an acronym like scuba, self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.
- Deliberately mispell a word, they changed the name to Google; the name of the search engine originated from a misspelling of the word “googol”, the number 1 followed by 100 zeros, which was picked to signify that the search engine was intended to provide large quantities of information. Maybe you too can become a verb! This works best with a rare word, otherwise people are always going to get search results for the common word.
- Add a suffix, wander becomes wanderly, CAUTION a lot of people have already done this so it may not work for your word, wanderly has 524,000 Google results.
- Add a prefix, flight becomes preflight.
- Add a Greek or Latin root or ending, wander became wanderonomy. (Wanderology was already taken, I checked!)
- Add an interesting sound, book becomes bookoo.
- Combine one or more of these tips. Expedia is derived from a combination of exploration, speed and a suffix.
- Bonus Tip – Your name can influence your logo The definition of twitter is ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds’ and their logo is a bird.
The Wanderonomy logo is simplified compass rose with a W inside. A compass rose is the mark on maps to indicate direction, a not so subtle reference to maps and travel with Wanderonomy at the center of it all.
After you make up your name
Say it out loud. Repeatedly. Is it something that will be mispronounced or mispelled? (It’s wander-ON-o-mee.) How many times have you been in a public place and had your name butchered by someone? You can also ask some people you trust what they think. It isn’t necessary to please everyone. One friend really didn’t like Wanderonomy, but every alternative they could think of wasn’t unique and *I* liked it and the origin story I had for how I came up with the name.
Do a Google search for similar domain names
In 1997, a savvy tech firm registered whitehouse.com, which eventually became an adult entertainment site that got a lot of cybersquatting or typosquatting traffic when people mistyped the address whitehouse.gov. In 2004, the owner of the domain was making $1,000,000 per year for the domain.
The whitehouse.org domain is a parody/satire site. It is definitely worth considering registering more than .com for your domain to prevent any misuse or confusion about your brand. This typosquatting shouldn’t apply to you since you made up a whole new word, but some fuzzy searches before you commit are worth your time.
Once you have a name that is unique, lock it down! The quickest and easiest way is to create a social media handle with your new word. From there you can expand to a domain (and get email at your new address), more social media presence, etc. Then it’s yours and all searches will lead back to you. You can then register your LLC. I’m thrilled to report each of the 7000+ Google results for Wanderonomy all lead to me.