Choosing a Business Name
Selecting the right business name is one of the most important decisions an entrepreneur makes when starting a company. Your business name conveys your brand identity and is often the first impression you make on potential customers. With some strategic thinking and creativity, you can come up with a memorable, meaningful name that represents your business well and appeals to your target audience.
Why Your Business Name Matters
Your business name is much more than just what people call your company. It can influence customers’ perceptions of your brand and impact your ability to grow. Here are some key reasons why your business name matters:
Reflects Your Brand Identity
Your business name should communicate the identity of your brand. It encompasses your company’s vision, values, offerings, and personality. An effective business name aligns with your branding strategy and conveys what you stand for. This helps customers understand at a glance what your business is about.
Makes a First Impression
For many customers, your business name will be their first encounter with your brand. It needs to make a strong first impression that captures attention in a crowded marketplace. A memorable, catchy business name can pique people’s interest and motivate them to learn more about your company.
Influences Customers’ Perceptions
The right business name can shape how potential customers perceive your brand in a positive way. It can convey key qualities like trustworthiness, expertise, creativity, or innovation. But the wrong name can turn customers off or communicate the wrong message about your business.
Affects Marketing and Advertising
Your business name will appear in all your marketing materials, advertisements, signage, website, and more. A name that stands out and looks appealing in promotional content can bolster your marketing. One that blends in or is difficult to remember could hinder your efforts to promote your brand.
Has Legal Implications
Registering your business name protects it from being used by competitors. It also enables you to open business bank accounts, protect trademarks, and establish your brand identity legally. Doing your due diligence to ensure your name does not infringe on existing trademarks is critical.
How to Brainstorm Business Names
Naming a business is challenging. You want a name that makes a strong impression and captures your brand essence but is also easy to remember. Here are some tips for brainstorming great business name ideas:
Define Your Brand Identity
Start by clearly defining your brand identity and target audience. Research competitors and brands you admire. Identify the qualities and emotions you want to convey, along with those you want to avoid. This understanding will guide your brainstorming process.
Incorporate Your Value Proposition
Communicating your key value proposition in your business name can help customers instantly grasp what you offer. Include descriptors related to your industry, specialty, or product offerings that characterize your unique positioning.
Consider Name Types
Names derived from the following can all be effective options:
- Descriptive names clearly convey what the company does (e.g. Quick Dry Cleaners, Modern Furniture Warehouse)
- Founders’ names provide a personal touch (e.g. Walt Disney Company, Johnson & Johnson)
- Acronyms spell a memorable word from initials (e.g. Verizon from Verizon Information Services)
- Evocative names suggest positive qualities or feelings (e.g. Nike evokes victory, Twitter conveys a conversational tone)
Mind Primary Audiences
Knowing your target customers can generate relevant name ideas they will connect with. Include elements meaningful to them. For a kids toy company, whimsical language may work well, while a law firm may prefer something more traditional.
Do Competitor Analysis
Research competitor names to spot effective patterns but also identify areas to differentiate yourself. You may notice strong names often use alliteration, rhyme, or strategic word combinations you can model. But also look for gaps where your name could stand apart.
Leverage Brainstorming Techniques
Use creative brainstorming techniques like listing descriptive words, combining words, alliteration, mental association, and more. Brainstorm long lists of possibilities without self-editing at first, then narrow down from there.
Mind SEO Value
Choose keywords customers would use to find your type of business and see if you can incorporate them. This boosts your chances of ranking in relevant searches. But don’t optimize at the expense of choosing a brandable name.
Evaluating Your Business Name
Once you have brainstormed a list of possible names, the next step is evaluating them to select the best option. Keep these factors in mind when assessing business name ideas:
Clarity on Meaning
Does the name clearly communicate what you do or necessary context? Descriptive names excel here. Brand-new coined names can be vague. Have objective people assess meaning.
A highly unique name can be memorable and ownable, setting you apart in the marketplace. But avoid overly obscure names that require explanation. Strike the right balance.
Appeal to Target Audience
Know your audience’s preferences. Does your name resonate with them? Will it appeal to their sensibilities? Names should capture customers you want to attract.
Simplicity and Memorability
Favor short, simple names without hard-to-pronounce words or tongue twisters. These are easiest for customers to remember and tell others. Alliteration, rhymes, and rhythms enhance memorability.
Rolls Off The Tongue
Make sure your name is natural to say aloud. Watch for problematic sounds like adjacent S’s or hard consonants next to each other. Listen to how the full name flows.
Can your name remain effective even as your business evolves? The broader the scope, the more flexibility it allows as your offerings expand over time.
Search your name and URL options online to evaluate availability, associations, and search engine visibility. Easy spelling and memorable URLs are pluses.
Verify your name does not conflict with active trademarks by searching databases like the USPTO’s TESS system. See if relevant domain names are available.
Finalizing Your Business Name
Choosing your final business name is an exciting milestone! Here are some finishing steps:
Do One Final Gut Check
Trust your instincts. Which name exemplifies your business and feels right to you? Sleep on final contenders to tap your subconscious.
Check for Consistency
Say your name aloud, put it in writing, and imagine it in various uses. Does it maintain its integrity and effectiveness across applications?
Secure Website and Social Media Accounts
Register associated domain names and social media handles for your business name and variations to protect your brand identity online.
Complete Legal Registration
Officially register your business name and trademarks. Search state and national databases one last time for peace of mind.
Announce Your New Name
Prominently showcase your new business name on your website and all marketing materials. Spread the exciting news through PR, social media, and other channels!
The time you invest in selecting the perfect business name will pay off for years to come through increased brand awareness, customer loyalty, and business growth. With strategic thinking and creativity, you can develop a name that conveys your brand essence and resonates powerfully with your audience.