A brilliant name is crucial to building a successful business. So here are some tips and advice on how to brainstorm the perfect business name.
Your business name communicates who you are and what your brand stands for. It is the first indicator of whether a potential client wants to do business with you. Why should you take the time to learn how to brainstorm the perfect business name? Because you deserve every shot you can get at success. This is where it starts.
You are not just choosing a name, you are choosing a brand. You are creating a powerful marketing tool, which you’ll invest time and money into. The success of your business depends on pulling of this step. No pressure, right?
I get it, it’s hard. This is especially true today when competition is so much higher, and there is intense pressure to stand out. But to come up with a memorable name that is going to attract the right people, you need to make this step a priority.
So, what makes a perfect name? There are several factors to consider, but generally a good name is: relevant, easy to understand, not too generic, not too similar to another company, not unavailable as a domain name, and not too cheesy. It has to be something which grabs people’s attention and leaves them wanting more.
- Name your business something directly related to your services. For example, Jan’s Creative Studio. This approach is far from compelling and won’t help you stand out from the competition. You will most likely come across as cliche, generic, and like your competitors. You want relevant, not plain.
- Infringe on someone else’s name or trademark. Don’t pick a name that sounds too similar to another company (might be a lawsuit in the making). Do your due diligence now, instead of risking wasted time and money dealing with a lawsuit down the road. Start off with a Google search. Then take a look at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s database to ensure your name is available. You’ll also want to check your state’s incorporation site.
- In an attempt to make your name unique, don’t make up complicated words. You want people to easily find you and refer you to others.
- Make it easy to pronounce and remember, which means avoid unusual spellings. You want to invoke interest, not confuse people about the spelling or pronunciation of your name.
- Make sure the domain name is available. You can use a website like Google Domains to check availability. If your domain of choice is taken, you can try to prefix it with words like “go” or “get”. Don’t forget to also check if the name works for your social media profiles.
- Keep in mind your target market. What will your ideal client think of when they first hear your name?
Ways to Make your Name Unique:
- Instead of limiting it to 2-3 words, make it a phrase. Hands On As We Grow
- Pair together an unexpected adjective with a noun, or two unrelated nouns.
Lizard Lounge, Insect Lore
- Make it a pun. Lawn and Order
- Use metaphors. Make a list of what your business does or the benefits it provides, then make a list of unrelated things which do the same. Pair off different words from both lists to create a meaningful metaphor.
The process – Part A:
These are the steps I take when I want to brainstorm the perfect business name.
- Write down a list of words that describe what your business does – these should be based on the benefits your product or service offers. Open up a thesaurus, find synonyms for the words you’ve listed, and add those too.
- Make a list of words that embody the values you want your brand to portray. Better yet, base these on the way you want your customers to feel. Look for synonyms of those words too.
- Make a list of words which pin point your competitive advantage, or something that makes your business unique. Find synonyms for these too…you know the drill.
- For the last list, write down unrelated things which provide the benefits, features, or values you listed above. You are going to use this list for metaphors.
- Pair off different words from each list to see what you can come up with. Write down every idea that seems decent. You don’t have to be in love with it yet. You can plug some of these words into a name generator to look at different possible combinations. Bust-a-Name
- Now go through your list and narrow it down to a few favorites.
The process – Part B:
Once you’ve narrowed down your ideas to 2-5 possible names, you’re going to rate them to see which one is best. For each of the remaining possibilities, assign a rating from 1-5 (5 being the best, and 1 being the worst), based on the questions below. When you finish, tally up all the points and you should hopefully obtain a winner.
- How will the name look as a logo and in your branding materials? Sketch a general logo out if it would help you vision it.
- How does it sound to your potential client – easy or hard to pronounce? Are the words distinctive enough to yell across a crowded bar and still be discernible? Easy to say, and easy to remember. You want it to roll off the tongue.
- How distinctive is it compared to your competition?
- Does the name have positive connotations?
- Is it available as a domain? If not, are there variations that could work?
- Does it let you grow? Will you be able to scale up in the future?
- What do others think of it? Test your name with your target market, or those comparable to your ideal client, not your friends and family.
If you decide to go with a business name that doesn’t instantly illustrate what you do, use a tagline. The purpose of the tagline is to reinforce your message and convey why people should do business with you (i.e. highlight the benefits). A tagline is a perfect opportunity to promote your competitive advantage.