How to: Name your Business
Your company name can be central to your brand, becoming a household name, a moniker, or even a verb (how many times have you suggested somebody ‘Google’ it or ‘Hoover’ the house?). It can be a pivotal moment for founders – a eureka moment of clarity – but with dense competition in most industries and limited domain availability – finding a great company name can feel impossible.
As a branding agency, our job isn’t just to create a good logo but to shape a strong brand, and the name can play a huge part in this. In the last few weeks we have assisted in naming 3 new brands, and so I thought I would share with you my tips for coming up with company name ideas.
Brainstorming Company Name Ideas
Work through the points below, or download the handy PDF version for even more help.
1. READ YOUR BRIEF
It’s easy to make business decisions based on your own instinct and tastes and forget to see things through your customer’s eyes. Your brief is a document where you’ve worked out what the marketplace actually looks like and how you need to be perceived so use it to focus your brainstorm. If you don’t have brief, check out this post first.
2. FIND A SPACE
Find a space where you can be undisturbed for a couple of hours. Turn off notifications and get yourself a big scrapbook or flip chart. You might find it handy to have a picture of your ideal customer/s in the room, and any product prototypes.
3. THROW DOWN NAMES
Start with the most obvious, the names you’ve had go round in your head a while; and then anything that describes exactly what your business is in one or two words. If it’s in your head, get it down however daft they feel
4. GET ABSTRACT
On a blank page think up any abstract words that represent your brand. Think big and write everything down, this is a process of unlocking creativity so don’t hesitate or stop to consider anything you write at this stage.
5. BRAND BENEFITS
Now think from the point of view of the benefit that your product offers.
Ask: ‘How will this service help my customers day to day?’
Think in adjectives and adverbs. e.g. simplify, stress-free, gain time, feel healthier, accelerate sales, save money, beautify…
6. LANGUAGE BEND
It may not be relevant to your business to have a name in another language, but it’s a great way to help you think differently. Translate some of the words that are coming up most often into another language such as French, Latin, Greek or Spanish.
Go to a site like Thesaurus.com and search for the 3 or 4 words that feel more relevant to your brand, e.g. an ice cream parlour might search ‘icecream’, ‘ice’, ‘frozen’, ‘refreshing’ or ‘Gelato’.
8. COMPOUND OPTIONS?
Are there some words that keep jumping to the forefront of your mind? Could they work together, as a compound name?
Some famous examples:
Netflix = Internet + Flicks
FedEx = Federal Express
Pinterest = Pinboard + Interest/ing
Casahop = Casa (home in Spanish) + hop (to switch or move)
Trivago = Trip, Vacation, Go
Weetabix = Wheat + Biscuits/bits
ZipCar = zip code/post code + car
9. TIME OUT!
If you keep staring at the words, you’re most likely to:
Think you’re a genius, fall in love with a name, start researching domain names, tell your friends and then go off it within 48 hours
Hate everything you’ve written down and doubt the whole process.
Name your brand ‘SpeedyTomatoez’ (no comment)
The world may not be ready for SpeedyTomatoez, so help yourself out and take 24 hours out. (If you really can’t take a day to consider the name, then at least 1 hour)
10. REVIEW AND REFINE
Come back into the room and take a minute to just review everything. Is there anything here that stands out? Highlight them. Are there any names or words that have potential but need something else? Write them down.
Anything that stands out to you for all the wrong reasons? Anything that could mislead, present the brand in a negative light or offend? Cross them out.
Go back to the ‘potentials’ – would changing one word for a synonym or reversing the order of the words make it more successful? Note any that work.
See if you can get 8-10 options on a piece of paper, then take a break before your brain scrambles.
THE FINAL STAGE: YOUR TOP 5
Come back to your list and write down your top 5 here:
Now, eliminate the two weakest names from your list.
Take 2 days to mull over these 3 names and ask key people who fit within your demographic for their responses.
Check domain availability, and there you are: your brand name!