By Grant Polachek
Your business name today directly impacts your monetary success, decides how your customers see you, and are the building block of your reputation. So, how do you find an epic business name in a digital landscape and a world of infinite words?
Even with the stakes riding high, finding a solid name for your business doesn’t need to be gruesome. As part of a company that has done this over 35,000 times, I can tell you that naming your brand is a strategic 3-step process. Let’s take a look at these:
1. Understand your brand:
The journey to naming your business starts with a deep look at your brand and preferences. If you can nail your brand and what it looks like, you will already be ahead of the curve. Begin this process by writing and re-writing a value proposition for your business. You could call it the elevator pitch or USP, but the essence is to break down your business into one sentence – who are you, and what do you do?
A great starting point is Sequoia Capital’s companies page. You can convey who you are far more coherently to your target audience when you have a tight value proposition.
Another aspect of understanding your brand is its tone. This defines the characteristics and personality of your brand. Your name should match the tone as all other branding elements, such as the logo, tagline, font, etc., are shaped by it. I recommend choosing from the five most popular tones:
- Modern – Uber, Zoom
- Emotionally Powerful – Triumph Motors
- Pragmatic – Lyft, Salesforce
- Playful and Fun – Slack, SquattyPotty
- Pre-eminent – Gucci, Rolex
Your tone should once again be determined by how you want to be seen and what your business product or service is. A top consulting firm can be aptly named Accenture and have a pre-eminent tone. The same, however, may not work for a B2C household technology solution such as Alexa or Siri.
Once you have a value proposition and a tone, you are ready to move on to the next step of naming your business.
2. Brainstorm a ton of names … then shortlist
Now comes the fun part. You can begin brainstorming a variety of business name ideas. They don’t all need to be good or perfect fits. The point here is to think out loud with your team (if any) and write down names, even the bad ones. You can go for unusual, quirky, classic, or other names. You can also find good names for your business in our idea guide.
Try to think of most names that would suit your value proposition and tone chalked out in the first step. However, don’t be afraid to step outside these boundaries for a few name options. You don’t need to worry about analyzing your company name ideas at this stage.
Once you have about 100-200 names, you can begin shortlisting. I’d recommend that you do this with a team that has access to your naming and branding brief from Step 1. Get feedback on each name — what works, what doesn’t, how it looks on paper, how it sounds, does it excite you, and so on. This is your time to taper down the brainstormed list to under 10 names.
3. Validate your final few names
Before you choose your business name, it must pass through a series of checks:
- Domain name availability: Regardless of the type of business, you will most likely need a website since it adds credibility to your digital identity. Hence, you must think about a domain name. An ideal one would be yourbusinessname.com. However, this will most probably require a heft marketing budget. You can think of other combinations to find a suitable domain name, such as a .co URL or alternate spellings.
- Trademark check: Most words in the English dictionary have a trademark. This is a step you must go through to avoid any cease and desist letters in the future. You can also seek legal help to figure out if your chosen name has an existing trademark.
- Audience feedback: Your name will most frequently be used by strangers whom you consider your target audience. Hence, before launching your business, you must get feedback from this pool. Run your name ideas by friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers and ask them for objective feedback. Also, check how many of them remember your company’s name after telling them a few days. This will ultimately test your brand name’s memorability and appeal.
Once you have carried out these three steps diligently, you will be close to landing the most epic business name that suits your brand values, personality, and needs. You may also question your final choice but remember that while a name is an indispensable part of your business identity, its success is also shaped by the vision, strategy, and actions you attach to the business. So, even as you ace this 3-step business naming technique, which will highly impact your monetary success and brand perception, branding is an ongoing and evolving process.
Grant Polachek is the head of branding for Squadhelp.com, 3X Inc 5000 startup and disruptive naming agency. Squadhelp has reviewed more than 1 million names and curated a collection of the best available names on the web today. We are the world’s leading crowdsource naming platform, supporting clients such as Nestle, Dell, Nuskin, and AutoNation.