Entrepreneurs worry so much over a number of other details as they get started and then leave one of the most critical aspects as an afterthought which is the brand name.
Naming your startup may seem minor, but it is actually one of the most important and undervalued aspects of your company. This name will be attached to your company image for years to come. Therefore, you need to get it right from the beginning.
The sad truth is that the right name can make all the difference when it comes to propelling a company to success, rather than just slogging on.
Names are quite powerful. Each one has a distinct difference. So, get the name right, and you get branding as a by-product of your advertising.
Below are 19 valuable tips to consider when determining a business name:
1. START WITH YOUR BRAND PROMISE
It is essential to know what your brand stands for before you pick your name. Your brand promise is not what your product or service does. It is the more profound emotional connection it should have with your users. It is the way your brand should make your customers feel.
2. KEEP IT SHORT
The name of your company should roll off the tongue.
People should not have to take a breath midway through saying your brand name out loud. Just think about some of the worldwide dominating brands such as Nike, Apple, Walmart.
Your business should not sound like a sentence. Sure, in some instances, two words might be appropriate.
But most importantly, bear in mind that keeping the name short will make it easier for customers to remember it, which will help you a lot with your marketing campaigns.
3. MAKE SURE IT IS EASY TO SPELL
Put yourself into the shoes of consumers.
Let’s says they hear your company name somewhere. Whether it is on TV, the radio, or in a conversation. Next, they search for it online, but cannot find you because they do not know the spelling because it is too complicated.
Stick with names which are spelled exactly the same as how they sound.
Even if they see your oddly spelled company name written somewhere, they may forget how to spell it when they look for it.
Do not do anything weird, like using the number 8 to replace the “ate” sound or use the letter “Z” in a place where you should have an “S.”
4. BE EVOCATIVE, NOT DESCRIPTIVE
Descriptive names like YouSendIt are fine, especially when you are first starting out. While a descriptive name can help your product get discovered in search marketing, ultimately, such a name will probably limit your business. If you have taken over the world-sized ambitions, follow the Apple model. In a world of Microsoft and IBM, Apple’s more abstract name allowed them to move from computers to phones and music players without consumers balking. It has brand extensibility. But Apple is not just a random name plucked from the dictionary. It evokes important symbols of human development. It is the fruit of the tree of knowledge in the Bible and the object that fell on Isaac Newton’s head, inspiring the theory of gravity. And it had personal significance for Steve Jobs from his days living on an apple orchard commune.
5. USE A REAL WORD
It will be tempting, when faced with the difficulty of securing URLs and trademarks, to make your life easy by making up or misspelling a word. My advice is, do not do it. You are just making things harder for your potential customers to pronounce it, spell it and remember it.
In general, people prefer the familiar. By taking familiar words and applying them in unconventional ways, a name will stand out.
6. CONSIDER THE CONTEXT
Company names are like baby names. When it is still in the womb, tell people a name you are considering, and they may have an emotional reaction based on their own experience: “I had a horrible boss named Alex.” But add context in the form of an adorable, tiny human being: “Oh, he looks like Alex.”
It is the same with your company name. Even when you are at the stage of presenting options to the other decision-makers, do not just show naked words. Put the name in context. Design a logo and mock it up on business letterhead or a web page. Seeing the name in action makes it easier to envision.
A great example is Square. The word hardly suggests forward thinking on its own. But in the context of a nice, square-shaped gadget that has changed how small businesses accept payment, it is perfect.
7. MAKE IT CATCHY
Your company name needs to resonate with consumers. It should not be forgettable.
Even though you are in the early stages of your startup, you should always be looking towards the future and thinking about potential marketing campaigns.
How will this brand name fit with your campaigns? Will it be easy to come up with a company slogan that flows well with the name?
You cannot pre-determine whether something will be catchy or not, and there is not a tool that can help you with this. Yet you can still figure it out based on your gut feeling and feedback of others.
8. CHECK THE DOMAIN NAME
So you think you are ready to settle on a name.
Next, use an online tool, such as GoDaddy to see if the domain is available:
Businesses often make this mistake. A company settles on a name, but someone already has the .com domain. But instead of trying to purchase it, they decide to use another extension, such as “.biz,” “.net,” or “.org.”
Doing that is not recommended. Consumers have grown accustomed to associating “.com” domains with established and credible businesses.
But that also does not mean you should make your domain different from the name of your startup to secure a .com domain.
I suggest that if your domain name is taken and you cannot purchase it, try to find a different name for your company.
9. KEEP YOUR LOGO IN MIND
Your business name will be tied to all your marketing steps. So, keep your logo design in mind as well.
Different color schemes can impact sales. That is because visuals are processed faster than words. Consumers will remember a name if the logo is memorable.
Think about McDonald’s “M” golden arches which are iconic.
How will your company name translate to your logo and will it be recognizable? Ask yourself this when coming up with a name.
10. BE ORIGINAL
If you want your brand to be unique, your name needs to be memorable and stand out from the crowd.
Do your best to avoid common names such as “Ben’s Repair.”
How many repairs out there do you think have that name? I can bet that there is more than just a handful.
You want your name to stand on its own, without any confusion or association with other companies.
11. RESEARCH SOCIAL MEDIA PROFILES
This is similar to the domain name search.
You want your branding to be consistent across all your marketing channels. See if specific social media handles are taken.
Having different social media handles on each platform will confuse your customers. It will complicate your efforts to build brand awareness for your new business.
If your name is available on all social media platforms except for one, reach out to the user and see whether you can buy it from them, or consider coming up with a new name.
12. DO TRADEMARK RESEARCH
You do not want someone else to be able to steal your name.
Search USPTO.gov to see whether you can trademark it.
This website provides the information and resources you need to know about existing trademarks and the application process for your trademark.
13. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF BRAINSTORMING TOOLS
If you are stuck on a name, you can use technology to get help.
Use tools such as NameMesh, Namium or Shopify to come up with a unique domain name based on specific themes. These business name generators help you come up with ideas while checking for domain availability at the same time.
14. ASK FOR FEEDBACK
You do not have to struggle alone naming your company.
Sure, you can come up with some ideas and ultimately have the final say. But if you have got partners or a team, make it a group discussion and write down your ideas. Then, narrow the list down to 5 or 10 names.
Then reach out to your family and friends. See what they think. If one name by far stands out from the crowd based on that feedback, you should consider it more than the others.
15. HAVE A THICK SKIN
Some people will hate the name you choose. There will always be a loud minority of haters. You have to accept their right to criticize. Plus, you can still be amused by the inevitable charge of obscenity.
16. IT IS NOT A DEMOCRACY
Choosing a brand name is not a democratic process. With no harsh rules for success, names will always be subjective. Getting a consensus will be hard, so keep your creative and approval teams as small as possible. But once you have picked your name, get everyone on board.
17. DO NOT REBRAND UNLESS YOU HAVE TO
If you are choosing your first name, this is one last warning to get it right the first time. If you are thinking of re-naming your company, think hard. Re-naming is a messy and expensive process. Some of your customers will not like it, which is understandable as name changes are for the company’s benefit, not for the customer’s. Even if you are thinking about changing your logo, you should challenge yourself to prove that it is necessary.
18. DO NOT DRIVE YOURSELF CRAZY
Picking a name is essential. But do not let it consume your life.
It should not turn into a 6-month project. If you take time for working things out, you will be just fine.
Will the name be perfect? Maybe not. But what is?
Do not keep second-guessing yourself. Go with it if you are sure about the followings:
- all the pieces line up
- the domain is available
- the feedback is good
- nobody has the social media handles
- you can trademark it.
19. MAKE SURE YOU ARE HAPPY WITH IT
The name of your business will be something you hear, write, say, and think about all the time.
If you do not like the name, do not use it. This startup is your baby. You would not name your baby something you do not like, right?
The same concept applies here. Otherwise, you will regret it, and that could impact your behavior and the way you run the business moving forward.
What is in the brand name? More than you think.
The name of your company will be your new identity. Do not approach this task haphazardly.
Whether you are struggling to come up with a name or you, have a name in mind, but you’re unsure how to proceed, use this guide to help you finalize the decision.
It is better to take the time and be sure of it now as opposed to trying to rename your business in the future.