10 Tips for Choosing the Perfect Name for Your Company

LettersYesterday, as part of my series on starting a business, I provided a general outline of things you need to think about when you develop a name for your business. Once you have your plan in place, here are some tips to help you find a business name that will add to your success.

1. Check on the Competition: What kind of names do your competitors have? Make a list and compare them to spark your own ideas and to help you develop a name that really stands out from the crowd.

2. Think about Your Target Audience: You want your business name to resonate with the people you are trying to reach. Use what you know about your target audience to measure the relevancy of any names you come up with.

3. Embrace Your Creativity: While you want your name to be easy to pronounce and remember, don’t skip over the value of creating a name that is completely unique. Not only can this make your business more memorable, but it can also provide a great opportunity for a back story, if your creative name has a special meaning.

4. Look at It from All Angles: Think about how the name will fit into the everyday operations of your business, and what it will make others think and feel. Make sure it coveys a clear message and that you are aware of all of the possible connotations that may influence how your business is perceived.

5. Don’t Limit Yourself: If you choose a name that identifies exactly what you do, such as Joe’s Logo Design, you might be limiting the future growth of your business. Sometimes it makes sense to be a little more general, such as Joe’s Graphic Design, so you don’t have to revisit and possibly revamp your brand down the line.

6. Get Input: Once you have a few possibilities, bounce them off of friends, family, colleagues and potential clients if possible. Ask for their initial impressions and suggestions they may have, and then add their feedback to your process.

7. Visualize the Brand: Your business name is more than just a name, it’s a big part of your company brand. Think in terms of your domain name, your marketing materials and how the name will essentially translate into all aspects of this new brand you are creating.

8. Use Tools: During your brainstorming phase, use some of the tools that are available to get inspired. A thesaurus is a must-have, and here are a few online tools to try out:

9. Keep It Short: Your business name won’t necessarily be more effective if it’s short, but it may be easier to remember. You can also consider using an acronym, but be careful – unless there is an obvious and memorable tie-in, using an acronym can make your name too generic to be relatable to your target.

10. Sleep On It: Put your shortlist of names aside for a day or two and then come back to it with a fresh perspective. You may feel differently about a name you loved before, or your working list may help you develop a new and perfect name when you review it again.

I used many of these tips years ago when I started my business, avertua. While it may not be the perfect case study in business name development, my business name has sparked many questions about where it came from (I made it up), what it means (it’s my take on what I provide: “a virtual solution”), and how to pronounce it (ah-ver-choo-ah). My goal when creating my business name was to get people intrigued and to be memorable, and it appears I’ve been successful in doing that.

How did you come up with your business name? What tips would you add to this list?

Additional Resources:

Image credit: L_Avi

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  • Michał Czernow

    Maybe writing a case study of creating sitepoint brand is a good idea :).

  • Boyohazard

    Re: number 6 Getting Input. I suggest you don’t ask friends and family. They tend to tell you what you want to hear, as opposed to what you need to hear.

  • mvbooth

    I would also add, that an important part of finding a logo/business name is making sure they have no conflicting(read: negative) meaning in other languages or cultures. For instance, my last name is Booth, but when I type fast I often spell it Botoh. So I’ve been thinking that I would incorporate this into a branding for my freelance work.

    As it turns out, ‘Botoh’ is a foreign last name, a form of inappropriate Japanese dance (spelled Butoh but also misspelled as Botoh, and Botoh is also an acronym for ‘but on the other hand’.

    In my scenario, the alternative meanings aren’t enough to warrant a change in name/idea, but I thought it was something worth considering.

  • Joel Dahlin

    Great tips.

    I would add, make sure the .com is available your the name.

    Joel Dahlin | http://www.dahlindevelopment.com

  • GreenTony

    Make it short, make it obvious to spell and choose a name for which you can get the corresponding domain. My current company name is Greentram Software, which meets all these; it fails in being completely unrelated to what I do – writing and selling structural engineering software – though does leave the way open to release other non-construction related products should I ever find myself with time on my hands!

    Perhaps it’s my age, but I find gimmicky names a real turn-off: if I was selling my home I’d much sooner choose Barry Plant than Fruit. But in a different market the reverse might be true.

  • Erik

    My wife and I wanted a fun, memorable and relevant name for our photography business. The result was “Shutterpated” which we derived from “Twitterpated” from the movie Bambi. The urban dictionary defines twitterpated as, “the flighty exciting feeling you get when you think about/see the object of your affection.”. We felt that was appropriate because 1) we wanted to capture those types of moments for our customers and 2) taking a great photo kinda results in that excited feeling. Exchanging “twitter” and “shutter” is just self explanatory.