Every new business has the same question when starting: How do you come up with a brand name?
A name might be based on a Greek goddess like Nike or tell you what the business specializes in, like Toys ‘R’ Us. It could be a new word like Spotify or have an elusive meaning like Apple.
The name you give your company does a lot of heavy lifting. It epitomizes your brand story, tells customers about your product, and has to be memorable for potential customers.
With all that responsibility, it’s no wonder naming your business can be a stressful task.
But you’re in luck.
With our guide for how to come up with a brand name, we’ll walk you through the steps for naming your business, the best ways to brainstorm, and how to come up with a domain name.
Read on to learn more about:
- Why the right brand name is important
- Things to think about for how to come up with a brand name
- The steps to take for naming your business
- How to choose a company name that fits
- What to do after you decide on a name
Why Your Brand Name Matters
A company name is your introduction to customers. It’s what consumers will refer to every time they have any interaction with your company.
Company names leave lasting impressions. Catchy brand names can make the difference between a business hooking its audience or disappearing in a crowd.
Reading a list of ridiculous company names might seem fun, but the disastrous consequences of a bad company name can kill your business.
Considerations When Deciding How To Come Up With a Brand Name
Before you jump into the naming process, understand the complexities of choosing a name and all it entails.
In his TED Talk “How to Create a Great Brand Name,” branding expert Jonathan Bell identifies seven types of brand names:
These brand name types can be valuable jumping-off points that can help you start the process of naming your business.
When you’re figuring out how to come up with a company name, think of its value proposition. In other words, how your company brings value and is better than your competition. Your company name can increase your value proposition and set the standard of what customers can expect.
It’s more than just how to come up with a brand name, but also how that name holds up to various factors, including:
- How clear is the name? Does it sound like a business?
- Is it a memorable or catchy name?
- Is it simple and easy to spell?
- Will the name be long-lasting? Is it trendy but not too trendy that it’ll feel outdated in five years?
- Does this name help search engine optimization (SEO) at all?
- Is it authentic to your business?
- Does the name fit your audience demographic?
- Will your name work in other languages?
Your name might not hit every standard, and that’s OK. Maybe it’s not a simple name, but it’s authentic to your company’s personality and values. SEO might be necessary for your small business, but being memorable might be critical to another eCommerce store.
Take these considerations with a grain of salt and as a way to guide you as you start the process.
Naming Your Business
- Define your brand
- Determine your name’s criteria
- Use tools
- Ask for feedback
Follow these steps for how to come up with a brand name, and you’ll be closer to finding your perfect choice.
Use Your Company’s Branding
If you haven’t done extensive branding work for your company, now is the time. Figure out your brand identity, the personality, tone, and positioning for your business. Is your company playful or pragmatic? For the adventurous or for the risk-averse?
Pin down your target market with research. A target audience of millennials will have a different approach than one directed at baby boomers, and that should affect your brand name.
Your brand identity is the best place to start when naming your business.
Find Your Name Criteria
Define what you want from your brand name. What feeling do you want to elicit? The word Patagonia has a different feel than Google, for example.
Going off your branding, determine a specific feeling you want your company name to capture. Write it down, so you have a particular goal in mind and for something to compare your ideas against later.
Also, pin down any other criteria that are important to you, such as uniqueness or simplicity.
Make these benchmarks general and not too concrete. Don’t limit your creativity. But knowing what you’re aiming for will help you in the process and give you a way to see if the names you come up with meet your goal.
Now it’s time to get creative. Brainstorming can be done in many different ways, depending on what works best for your business. Maybe your team wants to have a loose meeting to exchange ideas, or you’d prefer a more structured approach to workshop your best ideas.
Take a stab at coming up with names in each of the categories mentioned earlier. Try word association or branding exercises.
Look at companies you admire or those in your category. Rounding up these relevant brand names can help get creative juices flowing.
See what your competitors in your niche are named. Not only will that help you head in another direction, but it can act as inspiration to be more creative than the competition.
Try thinking in images instead of words. You can play around with a logo design, see if a color scheme inspires you, or experiment with various fonts. Uber’s font feels different than Coca-Cola’s. Or maybe you’ll draw inspiration from a tagline like Amazon’s “A to Z” guarantee.
Visualizing your business name helps it become more realistic and lets you picture what it might look like in various scenarios.
Plan to do the brainstorming process a few times to get a lot of ideas. Don’t be too critical during this stage. A bad idea can lead you down the path to your perfect brand name.
Take Advantage of Tools
These tools can be a great source of inspiration. But use them with caution since other companies have access to the same resources, and you don’t want to overlap with anyone or have a name that sounds like it came from a generator.
Ask for Help
Once you cast a wide net of name ideas, you can start to narrow your options down with help from an audience. That can be friends, families, employees, or customers.
Consider doing some audience testing to see how your potential names come across. You might be missing some meanings or connotations you don’t want to be associated with your brand.
How To Find Out if a Business Name Is Already Taken
- Start with a basic Google search.
- Use a hosting website to check the domain availability.
- Check social media sites. You can also use services such as NameCheckr or NameChk.
- Search the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with its Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).
- If you plan to expand internationally, keep in mind international trademarks with resources like the World Intellectual Property Organization.
How to come up with a brand name that’s original is challenging. But it’s good to start checking early in the process, so you don’t fall in love with a name that’s already trademarked or has no available domain.
Once you get to the final stages of your name hunt, you’ll have to verify further that the name is available. To be extra cautious, you can hire a trademark attorney or firm that can save you a future headache by ensuring your name is yours alone.
Choosing the Right Name
Once you’ve narrowed down a few good options, deciding how to choose a brand name that perfectly fits your company comes down to you. Does it include the criteria you initially laid out? Does the name feel like the right fit?
These are questions only a business owner can answer.
While naming your business is a big decision, do not hang your business’s success on your name. If you offer quality goods or services, then customers will follow no matter your name.
Choose what feels right, or at least like a fit that you can be happy with. Know when to move on from the naming process, and then focus on making your company the best it can be.
Next Steps After Naming Your Business
Once you’ve conquered how to come up with a brand name, now it’s time to put it into action.
Start building your online presence with your website and social media.
Your business domain name can be as simple as your company name, or you could consider purchasing multiple domain names related to your business, like how book.com redirects to Barnes & Noble’s website.
Your company’s name will be around as long as your business. So choosing the right name at the beginning is critical.
When you’re figuring out how to come up with a brand name, start with your company and how you want it to come across to the world. Try to get creative and use multiple brainstorms to get juices flowing. Test your name and settle on one that feels right for your company.
By following our tips for naming a business, you can decide the best brand name for your company.
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