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Starting a Business

Your Name Here

Create the perfect name for your company with these six steps.
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the May 2004 issue of Entrepreneurs StartUps Magazine. Subscribe »

Naming your business can be a difficult task no matter how creative you are. Burt Alper, co-founder of Catchword, a marketing company in Oakland, California, that specializes in branding, has been an expert in naming products and companies for almost a decade. Here are six steps Alper believes every entrepreneur should follow when choosing a business name:

  • Step 1: Identify who has a vote. Everybody involved in your startup has an opinion and will want to participate in the naming process. Leave the decision in the hands of those who know the business best.
  • Step 2: Know yourself. Understand the essence of your company. Find a hook-something that's compelling about who you are-and build on that from a vocabulary perspective.
  • Step 3: Know your competition. Understand what other people are doing, and dare to be different. You don't have to jump into the middle of the pack and use the same language or style as that of your competitors.
  • Step 4: Be creative. Don't come up with just two or three names. Push the envelope, and try to expand beyond the obvious by not getting stuck in generic naming solutions.
  • Step 5: Do your homework. Before you form an emotional bond with any name, find out if it is legally available for use; and make sure it won't translate oddly or offensively in another language.
  • Step 6: Select a name. It's an obvious step but often the most difficult to make. If you're waiting for an epiphany, a moment where you say, "This is the one," you could be waiting forever. Set a deadline, and just choose a name.

Alper says the latest naming trend is choosing a name that pins your company to a certain geography or to the founder's last name. Entrepreneurs will also find success this year by staying away from fanciful names and naming their product or company for exactly what it is. Customers value honesty and directness, and want to be reassured you're not trying to deceive them.

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