How To Name Your Business Correctly –
How To Name Your Business Correctly : You’ve got the best idea since sliced bread. Now you need the perfect brand name for your business, product, website, or whatever it is that is currently nameless.
In other words, you need a cool business name that will sum up your emerging venture flawlessly, catapulting it firmly towards the success you know it deserves.
In this article we will share our proven process that has been used more than 20,000 times to help successfully generate brand names for our clients.
When you are naming a business, you need to make sure you go about it the right way. We have created this process and these tips for choosing a catchy business name to help you succeed. Here’s everything you should consider when coming up with a business name.
Great brand names are like magnets that people gravitate towards. You have a chance to carve out a unique brand identity when you choose a suitably great name.
Don’t forget, potential customers adopt certain expectations upon hearing your name. If their expectations don’t align with reality, they will quickly get the sense that something is awry.
But that’s not really why it’s so crucial to come up with the very best company name possible.
While names are certainly the cornerstone of your brand, there are actually much more concrete reasons to invest time in getting the best company names that you can find.
- Start by Understanding the ROI of a Name
In this section, we will go over how a name directly impacts your monetary success. A perfect business name is more than just frills–it can mean the difference between a sale and a loss! Here are a few ways that a name can bring tangible value to your business.
Are you still not buying the importance of a great business name? Google is a great example of a company that likely would not have grown to such enormous success with their original business name, Backrub. Learn more about the Backrub to Google rebrand here.
- Clearing envision your brand
Ask, Who do I want to be when I grow up?
Everything has a name, a word we attach to it to give it some sort of meaning. Words and names are terms of reference for us when we communicate.
Concrete, clear and well-defined ideas are much easier to name than hazy, vague ones.
If you’re planning to open a chocolate shop, you need to know more about it than the simple fact that you’ll be selling chocolates! So, let’s dive in.
Start by narrowing your ideas down until you have distilled them the essentials of your brand. You’ll build your name from these key components. You may want to start with our business name generator.
Naming a business is all about focusing your ideas. Like the graphic above states, start with your venture, then narrow your focus to your brand. Your brand is what really informs the naming process.
If you are trying to find the perfect name for your chocolate shop, you don’t want to focus so much on the broad operational details like the top-of-the-line equipment you use or the fact that you’re opening with adorable striped awnings over your windows.
Instead, learn to narrow your focus on details that make up your brand, like the fact that you are starting this shop so that people can enjoy the small things in life. These are the kinds of details that will help you find a name.
As you continue to narrow your focus, come up with a one-sentence value proposition to hone your ideas even more.
From there, you can distill your ideas into just one to two words, which will become your new business name. Let’s explore how this is done.
- Creating a brand name tone
The best way to ensure that a business name sets you up for success is to make sure you are choosing a business name that sets up the right brand tone.
Tone is a general term for a character or attitude of a place, story, song, business, and more. The tone of your business should speak to your audience while also appealing to your business aspirations.
The right tone will set a foundation of your brand and allow you to control how your brand is perceived. Think of the brands Gucci and Fossil. People who are shopping for purses or high-end products will gravitate towards Gucci, whereas Fossil makes a direct appeal to durability and lasting practical quality.
Some of our favorite brand tones:
Fun and Playful
Amiable and inviting
Pragmatic or practical
Modern and innovative
See examples of our five brand name styles below:
You can select the right brand tone by considering who your customers are, what attracts them to you, and why they should be excited about your brand.
You may also want to consider your industry–what types of brands have your competition built, and how do you want to fit into, or stand out from, the scene? This will help you build a unified and successful brand. You can get a little inspiration through own collection of business name ideas. They’ve been created by experts in branding across a range of industries, so can be used as a jumping off point.
Returning to our chocolate shop example, because your focus is on improving people’s days and brightening moods, you will probably want an approachable, inviting name with an element of intrigue that draws people in. Consider your needs, and build your tone from them.
- Understand Secondary Branding Elements
While an overarching tone is critical to developing a great brand and a brand name – the tone is not enough. Secondary branding elements are the building blocks that you’ll use to actually develop great name ideas.
Take time to jot down ideas for each of the following bullet points. This is information you can start to use to piece together your brand name. Think of these ideas as the building blocks of your brand.
Big ideas: What are the large concepts behind your business plan?
Values: What personal business values or audience values drive your brand?
Stories: Is there a story behind your business that you should tie to?
Industry specifics: What values are specific to the industry that you want to align with?
Benefits: What specific benefits do you offer your customers?
Feelings: Are you trying to provoke any strong emotions from your audience?
Value Proposition: This is a specific statement that sums up your brand (mentioned above)
Your secondary branding elements will inform how you construct your name. As you begin naming, you will use pieces of this information to form a list of name ideas. Not every name will appeal to every bit of information on this list, but that’s okay! Focus on capturing the core elements.
Now, let’s talk about creating that name!
- Don’t move on until it’s on paper
Once you have thought through each of these aspects, it is time to form your name!
We know this is a lot of information, so let’s do a quick recap.
Above, we went through various ways to collect your brand thoughts and build your brand. Here, we will be going through some steps to help you turn a brand into a name.
Setting Up your Naming Criteria
A great business name is whittled down from a concise project statement comprised of all the elements we discussed above.
A successful brand name can serve many functions. Most brands that you know can be reverse-engineered to reveal how they work in the company’s favor.
For example, Urban Decay is a business name that helped the stand-out makeup brand break away from industry conventions, just like their products do. Urban Decay wanted to offer bold colors and urban trends for a younger crowd.
Typical makeup brands at the time like Lancome and Maybeline offered safe, neutral colors. Urban Decay needed a name that showed how and why they were different, and as jarring of a name as it is, it stands out and intrigues an audience.
How to turn this all into naming criteria
Once you have gathered all of the above information about the brand you are building, you can create some clear project statements that help you and others understand exactly what you need out of a name.
If you are opening a chocolate shop that focuses on community, creativity, and great chocolates, your project statement might look like this:
I need an intriguing name for a chocolate shop that speaks to creativity, community, and great sweets. The name should be inviting and approachable, but also slightly mystical.
In this example, intriguing is the tone you want your brand to have, and your building your name’s secondary elements include, creativity (big idea), community (big idea), great chocolate (benefit), and inviting and approachable (feelings).
Tying together key elements of your brand in a project statement will truly help focus your direction. It will also provide a point of reference that you can jump back to when you’re deciding on your final name.
Important note: Keep your target audience in mind!
Connecting with your Audience
- Brainstorm a lot of names
It is time to start generating unique brand name ideas. Be unique, be captivating, be bold. You can browse name ideas page for inspiration, or have a go at using the business name generator.
Whether you are crowdsourcing or coming up with names on your own, bring your team together and try out naming activity to start generating creative business names using our list of types.
Here are a few of our favorite business name types:
Real Word: Apple, Swoop, Slack
Misspelled: Lyft, nimbl, Mohawx
Compound: SnapChat, SplitWav
Phrases: StumpleUpon, Ready to Rise
Blends: Groupon, Yuconic, Winvested
Made Up/Abstract: Orizia, Itorix
Transmutations: Zappos, Zumba
Acronyms: IBM, HP
Play On Words: Deja Brew, EyeQ, Inner Peas
Metaphoric: Nike, Silverline, LoanSpring, RobinHood
Visual: Iron Flame, Blue Cabin
Foreign words: La Brosa, Nomi d’Italia
Latin, Greek, Anglo Roots: Rinsio, Bluntly, Omni Lend
Poetic: Dunkin Donuts, Lula Learn, Piggly Wiggly
This & That: Abercrombie & Fitch, Lydia & Park, Owl and Lark
Names and Surnames: Oskar, Windsor Harlow, Barnes and Noble
Create one name that fits your criteria (which you developed in the first part of this post) for every type on the list, and you’ll be on your way to a great name.
Not all ideas will be great ideas, but that is the beauty of brainstorming. Just get creative, and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
As you continue to brainstorm ideas, Rhymezone is a tool you might also find helpful.
What is great about it is that it allows you to look at a single concept from rhymes to synonyms to Shakespeare, this tool is a powerhouse. You can even filter your results so you can use the best words in the best contexts. Awesome!
Coming up with a great business name on your own is frustrating for most people – sadly, for some, it may even be impossible. When you consult with others, you are much more likely to find the perfect name and (importantly) feel more confident in your decision. After all, the more brains you have working for you, generating ideas, the more fantastic options you’ll have to consider.
Considering there have been more than 6.7 million trademark applications, and there are only 171,476 words in the English language, choosing a new business name that is both cool AND available requires massive creative energy. A great way to start generating ideas is to collaborate. Here are some tips on developing a business name with a group.
If, however, you think you’ve got access to enough creative brainpower already, ensure you do the following to get the best ideas out of your creative naming team:
Not only is the above great for the creative process, you will also learn a lot about your business and what sort of naming ideas you like.
- Start Validating Your Name Ideas
If you’re following the process, you should by now have found at least one, and perhaps even two or three names you really love.
It’s tempting to stop at this point, ecstatic that you’ve got results. But whatever you do, don’t drop out now!
Take the final steps. These steps will give you that added confidence you need to know for sure you’ve made a smart choice that won’t backfire on you down the road.
- Understand and budgeting for a domain
If you’re launching a new business in today’s world, you will likely need a domain. However, so many domains have been registered that it is no longer as simple as visiting a registrar and claiming the appropriate available domain.
While you may now understand how to land on a great name for your company, picking a domain is a different matter. In today’s very competitive world of business, most short, real English words are taken or very expensive.
Domain Budgeting for your project
Here is what you can expect to get with various domain budget levels:
When choosing a name for your business, considering your domain and domain budget will help you strengthen your business plan. Also consider how your domain will impact your business, and budget accordingly.
- Pass the Name Test Checklist
You need your business name to pass these basic name tests. Even the smartest, coolest names sometimes must be thrown out because they will cause long-term branding and marketing problems.
The Crowded Bar Test
A good business name is easy to say and hear, even in a crowded bar. This is the Crowded Bar Theory. The basic principle is that your name should still be understood, even if it’s said in a crowded bar.
If it cannot pass the crowded bar test, it probably will not hold up in the real world. It will be too difficult for people to share with each other.
You should also start narrowing your list of new company names by these two simple checklists we have created:
Use this checklist if you want people to CARE
Contextual – name makes sense for your brand positioning
Appealing – name is pleasant to say and hear
Remarkable – name sticks in the mind and gets people talking
Evocative – name is emotional, intriguing, experiential, or impressively clever
Use this one if you DON’T
Difficult – to spell or pronounce
Obscure – only a few people “get it”
Neutral – too safe, too boring, doesn’t excite to your audience
Taken – the legal implications aren’t good and the domain isn’t available
Read more about our checklist for creating a business name here.
- Avoid Legal Issues
Just like other aspects of your business, choosing a name has legal implications you must consider. This is why coming up with a unique name is so important.
Many of our clients, prior to deciding to use simple, effective platform went through legal nightmares when trying to name projects.
We feel the need to warn you in particular about Trademark issues. Just about every word in the dictionary is trademarked to a certain degree. Before you decide on a name, do your due diligence and get it checked out by legal professionals. If it’s high-risk, change it. A cease-and-desist letter can be a real show stopper.
For those in the U.S., remember, it’s important to complete a name search with the appropriate state agency, generally the office of the Secretary of State. In cases where the name you’ve chosen is NOT in use, you can reserve it for 120 days with the Secretary of State’s office. Make sure to undertake the right sort of due diligence so as to comply with local laws in your country of operation. (And please note that this is not legal advice.)
Know the Trademark danger zones
With so many trademarks, the chance of being able to use a single English word is becoming very slim. The common danger zones are:
Single English words
Power words – like Force, United, Omni and Icon
Symbolic words – like Bridge, Spring, Sage, Rocket
But just because you can’t use one stand-alone word, doesn’t mean you can’t integrate these words into something more original. Some of the most successful brand names out there use an interesting mix of real words and phrases to convey powerful messages.
Types of names that allow you to integrate more common English words include:
Transmutations – Zappos, Zumba
This & That – Lily and Moon, Crate & Barrel
Compounds – SnapChat, WordPress
Phrases – Mechanical Turk, Pliny the Elder
Visual Story – Ice Mountain, Red Bull
Blends – Groupon, Instagram
- Don’t forget Audience Validation
Now, for the final step! Get some audience validation. Make sure your target audience – real people who aren’t in your inner circle – react well to the name. Over the years, we’ve discovered that for those starting a new venture, getting audience validation is satisfying and encouraging.