Naming your new business or renaming your existing business can be a lot of pressure. You do not want to get ten years down the road to find out that your business name is worthless. Fear not though! This 5 step guide will lead you through brainstorming exercises and existing name searches to help you land on the perfect name for your business.
Step 1. Reflecting on who you are
Your business is an extension of you and your business name should reflect that. Before you go on, answer these three important questions:
What is your vision?
What are your values?
What are your passions?
Make sure you take your time and dig deep. Share your answers with someone you are close to and get their feedback. Do your answers match up with their impression of you? Is there anything they noticed that you should add? Are you able to tell a compelling story? If you need to start at square one, try taking this course on storytelling for business. It will help get you in the mood for brainstorming.
Now comes the fun part, brainstorming words. Write down 10 to 20 words that describe your answers to the three questions above. You can write them on a piece a paper, on a whiteboard, on sticky notes to stick to the wall, or type them on your computer. Go with whatever medium allows you to be the most creative. This part might take awhile so encourage your friends and/or family to help you. Try putting several words together or putting an adjective in front of your favorite word. Input at this stage is crucial. Your business name is likely to be the first thing potential customers will come across so it is imperative that it represents you in a beneficial fashion.
Step 2. Let’s weed out those potential names from step 1
Unless you are on a tight deadline, take your time in selecting your business’s name. An effective business name will reflect “who” the business is and attract your ideal clientele. If at any point, you are considering basic or commonly used words, you need to revisit step one. You do not need to be as detailed as “Smith Auto Repairs” but be careful of how vague you go, for example “Sublime Corp”. Your business name should conjure a favorable image in potential customers’ minds. Is there anything that you want to be specifically known for? If so, try adding that to your name.
Step 3. Dig Deeper
Alright, do you have the list of names that survived the first round cuts? If the answer is no (and it’s okay because sometimes this happens) then you need to get in the creative zone. Once you have a list of possible names that have survived step 2, continue on.
Now it is time to dig a little deeper. Look into what your competitors are called. Which ones are the most successful? Does their name articulate their brand value? Also consider businesses you admire. What does their name say about them? Start collecting images to associate with your brand name. If you need more instruction on how to create your brand, take a look at this course. Do any of the images spark new ideas? Collect your four best choices for your creative business name and move on to step 4.
Step 4. Will this fly in the real world?
It is time to narrow the pool to your final choice. Run all of your potential creative business names through this checklist.
Will people be able to spell your name? This is important because when people look up your business based on your business name, you want them to land in the right spot. Using “4ever” instead of “forever” might seem cute at first but it will be terrible later on when no one can find you.
Is the name memorable? Word of mouth is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your business. Do not get left behind because no one could remember what you are called. Ask your friends (different ones than the brainstormers) for their honest opinions on how memorable your business name choices are.
Will it work across cultures? Whether your business is international or not, your name should sound good (or at the very least not be offensive) across different languages. You also need to be aware that certain words have different meanings in different cultures. Ask your friends if they can provide any insight. You also need to do some research. We suggest starting online.
Can the name sustain? Let’s assume you are going to be in business for the next 50+ years. Names are hard and expensive to change down the road. Not to mention you will lose the brand value you have built up in that name. Do not name your business after anything that may go out of style.
Are there any restrictions on the name? Believe it or not, some words are protected or not allowed. Make sure your business name is in the clear before you proceed.
Is there a trademark registered under this name? You can find this information on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. This is extremely important. You do not want to be in the full-swing of printing marketing materials and developing your brand name only to find that you will have to change it.
Is the name even available? The quickest way to answer this question is to Google search your name. Make sure to check social media sites like Twitter and Facebook as well.
If your business name passes this checklist then go on to step 5.
Step 5. Time to seal the deal and make it official
The legal structure you use to set-up your company will determine how you register or trademark your business name. Not all legal structures require a formal trademark or registration process so make sure you read all of your documentation carefully. If you are at the name creation stage of your company then you may not have written your business plan yet. Get help writing your business with a business plan for startups course and get started on the right foot. If you already have a business plan in place, consider learning more about branding strategies for a small budget.