The right name for your entrepreneurial venture can impact its success significantly — it communicates to your customers and potential investors the essence of your brand, cultivates a positive emotional connection with them and tells them how to perceive your company. It also plays a huge role in your marketing and branding efforts. The wrong name, on the other hand, can result in several business and legal obstacles.
Consider this step-by-step guide to help you come up with a powerful and effective name for your business:
Step 1: Find Your Brand’s Essence: Before naming your business, the first step is to figure out who you are and what you are trying to achieve. To do this, try to answer such questions as:
- What is the reason for your company’s existence?
- What is your long-term vision for your organization?
- What is the business’ mission, and how do you plan to build that future?
- What are the values that guide you?
Step 2: Determine Your Differentiators: One way to find a good brand name is knowing what makes your company unique. While your brand’s essence is a part of what makes it unique, there are myriad other things about your venture that can make it stand out.
Step 3: Brainstorm: Get your stakeholders and creatives involved. Provide them with a set of guidelines or constraints to work with in order to come up with the most effective business name. Guidelines can be in the form of adjectives that describe your product and/or service, how you want your consumers to feel when they use your offering and so on.
Some other categories of brand names are those based on a person (such as Betty Crocker or Ben & Jerry’s), made-up words (like Xerox), acronyms (like LG, GE or DKNY), etc.
Step 4: Check the Name’s Availability and Legality: Once you have about 20 to 25 options, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) database of registered trademarks. Once you find a name that appears to be available, get a lawyer or attorney to fully vet and protect it. A trademark typically protects logos and brand names used on goods and services.
Step 5: Test your Business Name: Now is the time to test your top names. You can do this by creating mockups like homepages/landing pages for all short-listed names, logos, packaging and more.
Run a highly targeted ad on social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn for, say, a week, to see which page gets the most visitors and conversions.
Here are nine other best practices on how to come up with a solid name for your company:
- Avoid names that are hard to pronounce or spell.
- Try and get the “.com” domain name for your business, instead of such domain extensions as “.org,” “.net” or “.biz.” People tend to associate a “.com” website with a more established business. A domain name can have an impact on your online visibility as well as your marketing efforts.
- Do not pick a name that may cause issues down the road or limit your business as it grows.
- Do a thorough web search to check if the name is taken, even if it’s not trademarked.
- Do not pick a name that is too vague, complicated or generic, or even too meaningful. Keep it simple.
- Never copy your competitors. Apart from appearing unoriginal, it might confuse your customers and investors.
- Unless you are an established name, avoid using your own name. The founder’s name does not tell anything about the business. It may also cause problems if you wish to sell your company in the future. Also, avoid names of places if you want your business to grow beyond your region.
- Pick a scalable name.
- Check the meaning of your chosen name in other languages.
Remember, a business name is just the first step toward building a company. And while it may give a good first impression, how you deal with customer expectations will ultimately bring success to your venture.