Naming your business can be one of the most exciting, yet daunting, tasks you come to do when you’re starting out. Some people are flooded with ideas whereas some have a complete mental block – I’m one of them!
Just like our personal names are an introduction to other people, businesses are the same. You want it to be memorable and easy to read. Not only is it the first impression, but eventually a lasting cornerstone of your business. It will be placed on your product/service, emails, marketing material, logo design – virtually any part of your business strategy and execution. So, it’s important to decide on a name that will stick with people and build strong relationships with people in the same way coca-cola has been able to do in the 128 years of their existence.
So, how do you go about creating a lasting name for the years to come? You look at the needs of the people. More importantly, the people you will become your target audience.
Step 1: What are you about?
Forget about naming for a second and start by looking at the bigger picture. What is your company about? What is its mission? What are its core values? How do you want your audience to perceive you?
The reason behind why it’s important to think about these questions is because your name is not going to be a standalone thing. It will become the first of many important elements of your company’s brand. It will begin to play a role in other design elements such as logos, colours schemes, packaging, website, marketing, communication etc.
Take a moment to write down a few driving forces for your business. As you’re going through the rest of the process, refer back to these points to see if there is still a connection between the name and the values of your company.
Step 2: Research
Since you’re starting your venture it’s safe to assume that you know about your field, if not, i would suggest looking into your market to understand it better. Get to know how other companies are positioning themselves with their name and execution. Find out the current themes. What is the industry talking about? Jot down keywords that you find connect with what you’re trying to achieve. It can be tempting to make a huge list of names right away but it’s better to set out with some research with context.
Step 3: Steps to develop a name
Now that you’ve outlined what your business ideologies are and done your market research, it’s time to put these together and begin developing names.
Get out the pencil:
This is my go-to method when it comes to thinking about naming anything. It’s simple, just reach for your pencil and start doodling away. It doesn’t matter if you can’t draw, these are only rough. It’s not about the artistry, but about getting your thoughts to paper. What’s that saying? Pictures say a thousand words? These sketches may help inspire the name and as an added bonus you also have something to go off of for your logo. Win win!
Quantity not quality
Related to the previous point, as you’ve been sketching away ideas, these will hopefully inspire some words and phrases. Jot all of these down, and then you can start to eliminate suggestions and narrow down to the final few.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork
Gather a group of people around you and get fresh perspectives. I would advise not getting family as they’re most likely to agree with everything you do. This can be very helpful and surprising. You may like an idea but someone else may not share the same view and so we have a small market research group going to help you understand how your audience may react.
Right click – Synonyms
Remember when you last had to find an alternative word to seem like you have a larger vocabulary? When you right click the word and find a synonym? Do the same while trying to find alternative names for your business. You don’t have to come up with every name by yourself. Use the thesaurus for synonyms for relevant keywords to help you.
Take a break. Go for a walk, take a nap and go through the brainstorming exercise again and repeat. Varying your surroundings can help promote a different creative process.
Step 4: Shortlist
By now you should have an endless list of ideas of names, and so the process of shortlisting begins. Gather all the scraps of paper, sticky notes, doodles on tissues and start to narrow down!
First, get rid of all the “ugh” and “meh” ideas out of the way.
Second, group the ones that are similar to one another and eliminate the doubles.
Third, look out for the ones that you think people will find difficulty in spelling or too long to type. The last thing you will want is missing out on a potential customer because they couldn’t spell your name.
Fourth, say the remaining names out loud. Are they easy to say? Do they sound weird or funny? Check your demographics, your name might mean something else in certain cultures and places.
Fifth, run the words past other people who don’t know what your venture is about. Find out what their initials impressions are about the name and what field they would expect the name to cater for. Do their responses align with your company values?
Great! You should now have narrowed it down to a handful. It’s time to check if they’re actually usable. In many cases, I’ve seen businesses decide a name early on and not consider any other factors such as if the social media handles and/or the website URL is taken. So, now they’re forced into adding another describing word just for the sake of availability. I use Namechk for this process. It cross-checks the most popular social platforms and domains for availability.
You’re ready! Remember, take your time when it comes to naming your business. Going through these steps and tips will help you come up with a creative, memorable, meaningful name for your company. I know it’s a long process and you may not think it’s that important but, somewhere down the line you might wish you hadn’t chosen the name you did. If it comes to that, it could end up costing more to fix and apply the new name.
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so do it right.