Analyzing the names of INC 500 companies:

One-word vs two-word vs three-plus-word names.

Analyzing the names of INC 500 companies for ten yearsI’m fascinated by brand names, whether they be product names, service names, corporate names, names of events or names of product features.

So I took on a project lately that I find engrossing if not significant.

You know that INC Magazine publishes an annual fall issue of the 500 fastest growing private companies in the U.S.

Well, I reasoned that these savvy companies might know something about naming companies since they seem to be doing lots of other things right if they’re among the top 500.

So I set about analyzing and categorizing the names of the INC 500 for the past ten years. That’s 5,000 names I’ve scanned, pigeon-holed, described and charted. Quite a task. And not a lot of essential information gleaned.

But you might find several statistics of interest.

For instance, looking at the number of words in a name shows a healthy trend toward short names (except for a little glitch in the numbers for 2007). Here are the numbers:

In 1998 there were 90 (18%) one-word names compared to 133 (27%) in 2007. In 1998 there were 239 (48%) two-word names, and 203 (41%) in 2007. There were 171 three-word-or-more names in 1998 compared to 164 (33%) in 2007.

For some reason, the 2007 names bucked a downward trend in longer names. Looking at the 2006 names we see 143 (29%) for one-word names, 231 (46%) for two-word names, and 126 (25%) for three-or-more-word names.

I attribute the trend to one-word names to the success of Internet companies – Google, Yahoo, YTube, eBay, Technorati, etc. (Do you suppose the reason MSN hasn’t taken off is because they’ve used initials standing for a three-word, descriptive name.)

Well, every so often I’ll blog about another stat from this analysis.

If you’d like a copy of the strudy for your very own, please email me at Just put “INC 500” as the subject.

Martin Jelsema

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