A strong brand name is the cornerstone of any business. When launching a new business, a strong name can help you attract and connect with customers. It can lead to buzz, increase recall, and encourage referrals. A great business name helps you across many key communication and marketing goals — after all, a name that is hard to say, spell or remember is also hard to share! Moreover, a superior name serves as the foundation of your brand and can have exponential effects throughout the lifetime of your business.
We’ve all heard that you should never judge a book by its cover, but how many of us do it anyway with companies we frequent? When we hear a business name that sounds really good compared to one that’s flat, we do the exact same thing. And no one wants to be the business that causes this awkward situation:
“Wow, that’s really cool! Where can I get one?”
“Oh, I got it at that new place downtown…but I can’t remember what it’s called.”
With this in mind, follow these guidelines to develop your own amazing name ideas and decide on a great name that will help you succeed
Focus on Your Goals
If you’re launching a new venture and struggling to find the right name, the first step is to begin the creative process. Start by thinking about the brand you’re trying to build, and determine some core concepts essential to the success of your business.
Ask yourself: What do I want people to know about my business immediately?
Here are some common answers:
- It’s high-end
- It’s modern
- It’s unique
- It’s fun
Create Your Plan
Now that you’ve decided on a central direction, create a one or two sentence project statement to keep your naming efforts laser focused. Here are some examples:
- We’re looking for something super modern and brand new that will help show everyone we’re about gratitude, connectivity and productivity.
- We’re looking for a name that’s going to really describe our values and our goals — to create a user-friendly payment solution that really breaks the mold.
- We’re looking for a name that will show we’re the best option out there without making us sound too much like all the other options in the market.
- We’re looking for a name that makes everyone immediately realize that we’re about high-end fashion for women.
A lot of people dive into their naming project head first without taking the time to set the stage for success, hoping that “creativity” and “inspiration” will swoop in and provide an amazing outcome. After 15,000 naming projects developing business names within nearly every vertical imaginable, we believe strongly in a more systemic and strategic approach.
What Really Drives You?
Now it’s time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, or stylus to tablet!). However you like to work, it’s time to brainstorm ideas.
Don’t censor yourself when brainstorming. There is no wrong answer when brainstorming — just let the ideas flow. Sometimes a “bad” idea will inspire a “great” idea. When you’re developing name ideas, one thought leads to the next, and censoring your ideas will stop this amazing creative flow. Don’t forget to have fun!
Develop an inspiration deck. You can find inspiration for your business name ideas in so many places. Take a drive around town writing down your favorite names that you find, get a list of successful brands across any industry, or explore winning business name ideas from crowdsourced branding contests. Building a list of inspiration is a well respected copywriting technique, and it will certainly help you develop great business name ideas as well.
What You Need Most
From a technical naming standpoint, there are some important principles you’ll want to keep in mind:
- Is it easy to say? Unfortunately, you may have to pass on a meaningful name if it’s difficult to pronounce.
- Is it easy to hear? Try this thought experiment: If you were standing in a loud bar and told someone your name, would they be able to understand you?
- Is it easy to spell? Simple misspellings such as Lyft, Flickr or Xero can work really well for a brand. But names that are very hard to spell will hinder your marketing and communication efforts.
- Is it appealing? Is your name pleasant to see and hear? Many times in a quest to be unique or edgy, companies will select a name that lacks appeal with the target market. Consumers should like how your name looks and sounds. If they do, it’s much more likely that they’ll want to learn more about your business and talk to friends about your brand.
Also remember to avoid neutral names. Is your name too safe or too boring? While you don’t want to choose an obscure or difficult name, you also don’t want to overcorrect and select a name that simply doesn’t excite consumers. A dull name means you won’t stand out in a sea of competitors, putting you at a disadvantage from the start. View this full checklist for Catchy Business Names.
Picture Your Dream
The ability to bring a name to life in your mind is critical to the naming process. So imagine the story. Then visualize the logo — see it on your products and packaging. Without envisioning your brand, you’ll have trouble getting behind any of the business name ideas you’ve generated.
Put in the Effort
Developing business name ideas is only the beginning of the process. There are four important name validation steps that you’ll definitely want to complete before deciding on your business name.
First, running into legal issues after finally deciding on a name can be devastating to your business. To reduce your risk of run-ins with another company’s legal team or issues with trademark filing, it’s important to check for trademark risk before making a final decision on your name. Depending on your experience with the trademark process, you can perform this due diligence on your own. However, it’s often best to have your potential business name ideas checked out by licensed professionals — especially when the consequence could be receiving a cease-and-desist letter.
Learn the three additional critical validation steps and discover how to pick a business name here.
It’s Up to You
Though you may be eager to begin marketing and operating your business, taking the time to ideate an effective name is an important component of developing your brand’s image. By using these straightforward tips, you will have a much easier time coming up with a name that can help you succeed.
When you brainstorm names collaboratively and intelligently with a specific goal in mind, and then test your favorite name ideas with an unbiased group that represents your intended audience, you’ll be on the right path to a great brand and a successful marketplace.
Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Squadhelp.com. Struggling to determine how to name your business? Through a disruptive crowdsourcing process, Squadhelp connects you with the most creative people across the globe.