5 Essential Steps to Naming Your New Business
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So you come up with a great idea for a new product, business venture or side hustle. You're ready to take the first step, but you're stuck on finding the right name. Naming can be a daunting task for many people — and it's easy to get stuck trying to find the right one.
It's important to remember, though, that while names are important, a name won't be great until you make it great. It takes cohesive branding, authentic emotion and a compelling story to turn an ordinary word into a memorable name.
When you create a new name, it won't have the popularity and recognition of established brands — so it may be hard for your name to be accepted right away and considered a "perfect" name. When people hear your brand's name, they'll subconsciously make their own associations with the word. Maybe it reminds them of a bad experience they had, so they might be turned off right away. Or maybe it rouses feelings of nostalgia and they'll feel an instant connection to your brand's name.
Instead of focusing on a catchy name that captures the eye, think about making it part of a comprehensive brand story that captures the mind. It's the experience surrounding the name that gets people to remember you and keep coming back.
I've named 100-plus companies and products in my career so far. Ready to dive in? Here are five simple tips to help you create a name for your own venture.
1. Write your story
First, define your values and your brand promise. As I said before, a name without a story is just a word. You need to hone in on why you're creating this product or offering this service. How is it better? What makes you the best person to sell it? How are you going to create a one-of-a-kind experience with your brand? How do you get people to go from “why” would I buy to “how” do I buy?
2. Define your target audience
Who is your ideal customer? Don’t rush into saying that anyone could be your customer and to try to appeal to everybody. While anyone could potentially buy your product or use your service, you need to define your ideal customer, the one you will be targeting. Should your naming approach be witty or super-professional? Should your style be bold or understated?
The direction you take depends on this target audience — their age, preferences, lifestyle, hobbies and more. This data will help you profile your ideal customers and inform your approach to naming.
3. Decide what kind of name you would like
Next, decide if you want your brand's name to be descriptive or creative. Descriptive brand names are those that readily convey the service or product offered by a company. They don’t require a lot of explanation as the name is easily understood.
The downside is that a descriptive name might be too specific — and could hinder any expansion. If you’re about to launch a product, I recommend choosing a descriptive name that highlights one of the product’s qualities. If you’re going to launch an umbrella brand, make sure the name allows the flexibility to possibly add new products or services in the future.
4. List words that you want people to think of when they hear your brand name
What do you want customers to associate with your name? If you’re launching a shoe brand and your ideal customer is high-earning women who love to travel, you want your name to evoke ideas of comfort, luxury, adventure, and versatility. Maybe you can draw naming inspiration from foreign languages or natural forces, like the wind — something that travels.
If you're launching an investment company, consider using words that symbolize trust, honesty and security, and incorporate colors that have these associations — like blue, a symbol of stability and reliability. Look for inspiration in sturdy words such as slate, rock and fort, all physical materials that imply strength, reliability and power.
If you’re launching a social app, think of words related to connection such as link, tribe, clique and hive. If you’re targeting parents and the product or service is designed for their children, try to infuse whimsical, childhood elements into your branding, like carousel rides or pool parties. Ladybugs, superheroes, owls, fairy dust, and everything in between can be incorporated into your name.
5. What are some brand names out there that you really like?
Think of brand names out there that you really like and analyze why you like those names. (My guess is because they’re already well-known, probably you're already their customer, and because you likely had a great experience with the brand.)
But aside from this, what are some companies that stand out solely because they have great names? Make a list, and try to uncover what these names have in common. This way, you can build a better understanding of what kind of name resonates with you, whether it's a foreign word, a single real-word name or a made-up word.
Now, you should have more clarity about crafting a great name for your business. Once you start playing around with words, experiment with combining them, altering the spelling, and Googling the name to see if it's already in use.
As long as the name is meaningful, easy to spell, and easy to remember, you’re ready to go. But remember, your brand is more than a name, and you'll have countless opportunities to show the world who you really are.