The #1 goal of your business name is to generate customers. The average attention span is 8 seconds, 1 second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish (Huffington Post). Your company’s name should be dynamic, visual, and unique to attract consumers and build a culture. It is the most used part of your brand and needs to be easy to use in conversation, on your products, website, and marketing materials.

When creating your business name it is important that you have already clarified your brand’s vision and products. Choosing a name prematurely can lead to having a name that does not match the audience you are trying to reach. Or worse, does not reflect what you are doing at all. Like anything with business, it takes time, research, and testing to get it right.

Before you paint an image, you must know the type of paint, canvas, color palette, and tools you are going to use. Take time and brainstorm about the foundation of your brand, what it stands for, and why you are creating it, before naming your business. Jot down some words that best reflect what your mission is and what your business will offer to the consumer. This will come in handy when trying to create a name that is perfect for your brand.

Clarity is key in this process. It’s always great to have an idea of the big picture. However, start with a small clear idea of how you want your brand to be positioned in the market and delivered to your customers. This will help develop those bigger dreams into your company’s growth strategy while keeping your brand in-tact.

 

Strong Name Guidelines

There are 6 general guidelines that a great business name follows. Following these guidelines closely can help avoid any headaches caused by building a brand around a name that is not marketable, not available, or simply doesn’t reflect your company’s purpose. When choosing a name, be mindful of these guidelines and if it does not fit into all of these categories, go back to the drawing board. No, the good names are not all taken. Not even close. It’s up to you to develop a unique business name to accurately and creatively represent your company.

 

1. Reflects What The Company Does
Your name should not create a guessing game with the audience. It should reflect what your company does and the products that it offers. This helps to build brand awareness, even if the name simply comes up in conversation.

Choosing a name that reflects your products or services also creates an opportunity for your client to use your brand’s name as a verb when referencing your company because the product or service will be understood.

Companies such as DoorDash, WeWork, Beats, and Ring do a great job of using descriptive words for their name that allows it to become an extension of their product and immediate selling point.

 

2. Resonates With The Target Audience
Your name should resonate with your target audience. If your business is targeting senior citizens, you do not want to create a company with a name that is trendy or edgy. The message will be lost and your sales will suffer. Instead, consider what will connect with your customers.

95% of all purchasing decisions are made subconsciously (Inc.com). Use descriptive words that create an emotional connection with your audience to strengthen your sale potential and your client’s purchasing potential. Creating clear customer personas can help with this.

Having a clear understanding of the pain points of your customers and how your product/service will solve them allows you to choose words that evoke emotion in your customers. Below is a quick example of how to create a great customer persona for your business.

 

3. Is Scalable
Unless you are personally planning on being responsible for the quality, service, or product that you are offering, do not name your company after yourself. There are some exceptions to the rule. If you are famous for what your business is offering (ie. Chef Bobby Flay), by all means, use your name. That name is branded and synonymous with the prestige and quality food.

However, if your professional background is not in line with your new business, don’t bother. There are plenty of more interesting words and phrases that you will use to generate interest in your new business. This also allows your company to scale without your personal brand having a direct impact on it and vice versa.

However, keep in mind you are always a reflection of your company or the company you work for. Always be professional,  especially in a work setting.

 

4. Is Unique / Available
Trademark and copyright infringement play a huge role in business. Even if things go under the radar at first, as you grow and expand having a name that is similar to another company or is already in use can cost you big bucks.

In 2004 companies 3M and 3N underwent a legal battle in regards to the 3M name. 3M won significant damages due to the company’s notoriety and claims that 3N had gained clients and market share using a similar mark (TrademarkNow).  There are ways to consciously avoid this.

Using two visual words together is a great way to increase the amount of naming options you have while avoiding copyright infringement. There are free online tools like Visuwords (also a great example of a visual compound word) and Thesaurus.com that help find new words or visual elements to consider during your naming process.

 

5. Easy To Remember / Search
So you think you have an idea but it’s already in use or the domain isn’t available. So what do you do? Change a letter or make up a verb so that it’s easier to obtain the rest of your materials. NO. Having a business name that is searchable and memorable is extremely important.

Google’s algorithm automatically corrects searches that it believes to be misspelled with better, more popular search results. That means Google has now taken it upon itself to redirect your potential clients to a different direction. Don’t let this happen. Skip the made-up phrases and misspelled words. They will do you more harm than good.

Brands such as Apple, Beats, Universal, Target, and Canon all use the correct spelling of their business name.  All have subsequently become higher ranking in the Google search than the dictionary definition of the original word. The patient, it will take time for your business to rank on Google, but with great marketing efforts and an even better product/service you can get to the top.

 

6. Reflects The Tone Of The Business

Your business name should reflect your brand tone. If your brand is more serious, choose a stern voice for your name. If your brand tone is friendlier, finding a name that is cheeky and memory can go a long way with your marketing.

While The Super Southern Chickens Spot may appeal to an urban audience, it may not necessarily resonate with the fine dining crowd as well as a name like The Whole Bird would.

This is especially important when the choosing a creative domain name for your marketing materials. Now more than ever, it is hard to find an exact domain name for your company. Domain modifiers can be used here to help and should be considered in your name development process. Some popular domain name modifiers used by companies are:

 

  • get[companyname].com
  • ilove[companyname].com
  • try[companyname].com
  • company-name.com
  • [companyname]now.com

 

 

 

 

Conclusion 

Choosing a business name is a  strategic process that should not be taken lightly. A great name can be one of your best, and most cost-efficient, marketing assets.

Determine your brand values, target audience, and the company’s mission prior to naming your company. A little brainstorming can go a long way. If you are sure where to start, most agencies offer branding workshops to help clarify your vision, like our Bold Brand Workshop.

Use tools available to you to help broaden your perspective and increase the range of possible names you have to choose from. A thesaurus, visual word tool, our mind mapping software can come in handy in your process.  Words that are descriptive and visual will have a stronger connection with your audience.

Always check for trademark and domain availability for your top choices to help narrow down your selection. With your final selection, ask for feedback from your peers and potential customers. Often times, they can make a connection with the name that you have overlooked. These connections can be used for your branding materials and visual identity.

Remember, it’s never too late to undergo a rebranding. If you already have a name that your company has been operating under, and feel as though it’s not the best representation of your quality or services,  go back to the drawing board. The time is now to start attracting new business.

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