How to Come Up With a Perfect Name for Your Business

  •    Director of Marketing at Squadhelp.com, helping entrepreneurs and marketers name their businesses, create strong brands, and grow faster through a disruptive crowdsourcing process.

Great names preframe a brand experience, attract attention, get remembered, connect with an audience, and facilitate buzz, referrals, and sales. Your business name can be a true communication asset, helping you reach key business goals - and we’re not just talking about abstract goals like the development of brand recognition over time:

When the owners of a restaurant use a great name, they are likely to attract more customers from Google Maps than their competition who is using a flat, uninteresting name. And no one wants to be the business that causes this awkward situation:

“Hey, where did you get that? I’d love one just like it!”

“Oh, this. I got it for a great price and the customer service rep was so helpful. Over at … oh, I can remember the name right now.”

With this in mind, follow these guidelines to develop your own amazing business name ideas and finding a great name that will help you succeed:

Start With the End in Mind

You are launching a new venture, and you’re struggling to find the right name. The first step is to hone the creative process. Start by thinking about the brand that 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 is Preeminent and High-end
  • It is Modern
  • It is Unique
  • It is Fun

Deciding which direction works best for your company will give you a sharp focus and help you develop a name (and a brand) that will support your success.

Solidify Your Criteria

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 need a fresh, modern name that captures one of our key ideas - connectivity, productivity, and gratitude.
  • We need a descriptive name that captures our value proposition - we are a payment solution that is easier and more user-friendly than anything out there.
  • We need a strong name that establishes us as a preeminent solution. However, we also want to stand outside from the standard industry names.
  • We need an elegant name that immediately sounds like a high-end women’s fashion brand.

A lot of people dive into their naming project head first without taking the appropriate 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, we at Squadhelp.com believe strongly in a more systemic and strategic approach.

Find Inspiration

Now it’s time to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard … stylus to tablet). However you like to work, it’s time to brainstorm ideas.

Research your competition - Understanding the brands you’re competing against is an important aspect of developing effective business name ideas. One of the major decisions you’ll want to make when naming your company is, Do I want to fit in or stand out from the industry?

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 you can image using your go-to search engine, or explore hundreds of winning business names 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.

Name Essentials

From a technical naming standpoint there are three important principles that you 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 say. For example, the iae vowel construct of the Latin word patriae (country) could cause much confusion if used in a business name.

Is it easy to hear? Test your name by calling a friend and saying, “I’m thinking about [insert name] as the name of my business. What do you think?” If there is a long pause or the reply is “What’s the name again?” You might have an issue.

Is it easy to spell? Simple misspellings such as Lyft, Flickr, Xero can work really well for a brand. But names that are very hard to spell will hinder your marketing and communication efforts.

Envision Your Brand

A great name will always be less appealing than your competition’s mediocre brand. It’s very hard to look at a list of names and get excited about them. One, two, or three words on a page can often feel flat. The ability to bring a name to life in your mind is critical to the naming process. Imagine the story. 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 that you’ve generated.

Due Diligence

Developing business name ideas is only the beginning of the process. Here are three of the most important name validation steps that you’ll definitely want to complete before deciding on your business name:

Trademark risk - Running into legal issues at the very start of your business can leave you feeling discouraged. With a great deal of dictionary words and synthetic words trademarked to a degree, it is important to come up with a unique name and engage in the necessary due diligence to ensure that it’s available for use. This means consulting with legal professionals and searching through the appropriate trademark databases to determine if a name is already registered.

Finding a domain - Securing a domain is all about uniqueness, finding something that no-one else is yet using; and with an estimated 50 million businesses starting each year, this is not always easy.

  • When coming up with unique business name ideas, explore a variety of naming types, including blends (Groupon), phrases (Stumbupon), compounds (SnapChat), made up (Zumba), and visual names (Blue Buffalo). Use this list of 14 business name types for more inspiration.

  • Sometimes it’s appropriate to open up your search and consider .co, .io, and other less common extensions.

  • Addons are another effective method for securing a relevant domain for your business. Consider popular front-side addons such as Get, We Are, or Shop (e.g. GetBase.com) or standard industry addons (e.g. TestaMotors.com).

Exact match .com’s (e.g. Weebly resides at Weebly.com) are a restrictive element when it comes to the naming process. But if this is important to you, be sure to keep realistic expectations. Great .coms can sell for thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, if they are available at all.

Audience Testing - Once you’ve decided on a few name ideas, you’ll want to get unbiased feedback. It’s great that you and your team are excited about your business name ideas, but general audience approval is an encouraging way to know that you’ve found a name that will truly help you succeed.

Back to You

Follow this tested process to create a business name that will become a true asset for years to come. No shortcuts. Take the time to set the foundation for your project, develop great ideas, and validate there usability - and you’ll find a name that will attract attention, make connections, get remembered, and increase your bottom line.