Choosing a Business Name: 7 Tips for Naming a Business
Choosing a catchycompany name that highlights your brand identity or helps your business idea stand out from other good business names can be daunting.
You want something memorable that accurately represents your company. This can help your business cards stand out and optimize your online business or e-commerce site for SEO.
Still, you must ensure it's available and that it helps people find your business easily online. This article will teach you how to come up with a business name, going over seven tips to make creating the perfect business name less overwhelming.
1. The name needs to sound good when it's said aloud.
I'm a big fan of alliteration, using words that start with the same consonant, Coca-Cola or Jimmy John's. Just make sure to say it aloud -- a lot -- and make sure this isn't a "she sells seashells on the seashore" situation. People need to say the name on the radio, in a video, or in conversation.
2. Use a name that has meaning to it and conveys a benefit.
If you heard it, you'd know right away what it is. For example, my first "real" book was called, "Moonlighting on the Internet." The word "moonlighting" instantly conveyed that this was about using the Internet in your spare time to make extra money.
Additionally, make sure the name isn't too generic. Personally, I think Boston Chicken made a mistake when it changed its name to Boston Market. Don't try to be everything to everybody with your name.
Related: Broken Wing
3. Don't make spelling a chore.
When choosing a business name, it's vital to ensure that your target customers can easily spell it.
This is especially important if you're looking to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs). A business name that's hard to spell can put you at a disadvantage against competitors with easier-to-spell names.
For example, if your business name is "Krivokrasov's," it might be difficult for potential customers to find you in the SERPs. It could also lead to confusion if someone misspells it, such as "Krisvokrakovs."
On the other hand, a simpler name like "Smith's" isn't likely to cause any confusion, and people can easily remember and spell it correctly.
When choosing a business name, keep it as simple as possible. A memorable name with easy-to-spell words can help you stand out from the competition and make it easier for potential customers to find your company.
It is likely wise to research and consider how people might search for your services; doing so can help ensure that customers find you and your brand online more easily.
Having trouble nailing this part down? Here's a step-by-step approach:
First: Make a list of potential business names.
Consider the type of business you're starting. This can help you to narrow down the scope of your search.
For example, when opening a restaurant, you might focus on names that evoke food or dining experiences. If you're starting a consulting business, you could make your name related to business strategy or decision-making.
Once you have a general idea of the direction, start brainstorming potential catchy business names. Write down any ideas that come to mind, no matter how silly they may initially seem.
A good practice here is to use acronyms and abbreviations, which often make great business name ideas. The goal is to get your creative juices flowing and generate as many brand name possibilities as possible.
Then, eliminate any names that are too similar to existing businesses or too difficult to pronounce or spell. And don't forget to run your chosen name by family members and friends to get their input — those closest to you may add unique business names to your list of names, which can significantly improve the naming process.
If you're struggling to generate a creative business name on your own, try a free business name generator. While business owners should be careful using company name generators to make final choices, these tools can help get the gears turning and lead to a great name.
Next: Narrow down your list to your top three favorite business names.
Before choosing the perfect new business name, try narrowing your options to three favorites. To do this, consider what message you want your business name to communicate. Then, brainstorm a list of relevant keywords and use them to generate potential names.
Once you have a list of contenders, try them out on friends and family to get their feedback. With input from others, you should be able to narrow down your list to three top picks. Then, it may be time to choose the final name for your business.
Finally: Choose the name that best represents your business and its goals.
It's good if your business name represents the business and its goals; ideally, it will be memorable and easy to pronounce. Try to create a unique name that stands out from the competition.
For example, if you're starting a marketing company and notice that several potential competitors use marketing puns in their names, you might want to take another route with your name. Perhaps you could combine your personal name with a standard marketing term or simply use your last name followed by the word "Marketing."
Creativity is great. But if it's hard for your target customers to distinguish your brand from others, having an uber-clever business name may have a different impact than you envision.
4. Beware initials.
They are so boring. Yes, IBM and 3M have gotten away with initials, but these are multibillion-dollar corporations that have been around for decades. You can do the same when you've brought in billions of dollars over a hundred years. Until then, rely on a name that is interesting.
5. Use specifics.
Don't use a generic name that doesn't mean anything. I like names that take advantage of details such as numbers and days. My buddy Tim Ferriss found a pretty specific and compelling name for his book "The 4-Hour Work Week." Other titles that use numbers to focus on specifics include "8 Minute Abs" and "5-hour Energy."
If you really want to get advanced, try to come up with a name that could be eventually used as a verb, or lends itself to the creation of your own "language." People who go to TED, the conference for Tech, Education and Design, now call themselves "TEDsters." My company, Maverick Business Adventures, recalls "Maverick Moments" stories about happenings during a trip.
Think it through, and your name will be a multiplier in your favor.
6. Make sure you can trademark the name.
Depending on how big you want to build the brand, confirming that your business name is available and trademarked before launching your company is critical.
Name availability is one of the most crucial aspects of choosing the right name. You don't want to spend months developing your brand only to find out someone else is already using the name.
Many entrepreneurs find using the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's online database helpful for conducting a name search. This allows you to search for similar names already registered, and if you find a match, you'll know to choose a different name for your business.
You can also hire an attorney to do a more comprehensive trademark search of state and federal databases and common law uses of the name.
After selecting your business name, you can file for a trademark to protect it from being used by someone else. Remember to check USPTO.gov -- or a new site called Trademarkia.com -- before settling on a name.
Pro Tip: Also confirm that your domain (or something close to it) is available.
Once you've ensured you can trademark your business name, it's an excellent time to start thinking about your website.
The first step is to see if your desired domain name is available. You can determine domain availability quickly by searching through a domain name registrar like GoDaddy. If the domain name is available, you can purchase it immediately. If not, you may find a similar domain name that's available, such as adding a verb in front of your business name — think www.shop[yourname].com.
After registering the domain name, you'll want to set up web hosting, where your website's files can be stored and made accessible to visitors. You can usually purchase web hosting through the company you registered your domain name with.
Then, you'll have a solid foundation upon which to build your website.
7. Test it out.
When you've chosen a business name, it's a good idea to test it out with friends and family to get their thoughts. Great brands, from Apple to Nike to Amazon, all went through thorough testing to ensure their names would help them succeed.
You can also run an A-B test by polling your target customers to see which name they would do business with, helping you decide whether to use the name or not.
Creating and administering an A-B test for your business name is quite simple. Here are six steps to making it happen:
- Create two versions of your business name and decide on what criteria you'll use to measure success (such as having customers pick who they'd buy from, or who sounds more trustworthy).
- Set up a survey or questionnaire for people in your target audience, asking them to select one of the business names you've created.
- Distribute the survey through social media and email campaigns, and collect the responses.
- Analyze the results to see which name performed better in terms of the criteria you chose in step one.
- Make a decision based on the results and feedback from your survey.
- If necessary, implement any changes to existing branding or materials following the test.
By testing out your business name before committing to it, you can ensure it resonates with customers and accurately reflects the style and tone of your business.
Bonus tip: Don't forget about creating a logo
Your logo is one of the first things potential customers may notice about your brand, so it's crucial to ensure it reflects the name and style of your company.
If you're starting a new business or looking to refresh your existing branding, here are a few tips to help you create a logo and branding that accurately reflects your business.
- Start by considering what your business name represents.Is it traditional or modern? Serious or fun?
- Brainstorm logo ideas that reflect the general tone of your business. Do you want your brand to evoke joy and light-heartedness, or are you taking more of a formal and straightforward approach?
- Take a look at your competitors' logos and branding. What do they communicate, and how does it compare to what you want to say with your branding?
- Don't be afraid to experiment. Try out different color schemes, fonts, and images until you find something right for your business.
You can develop a logo and branding that accurately reflects the name and style of your company if you put in some time and effort.
Check out Entrepreneur's other guides and resources for everything you need to expand your business and professional knowledge.
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