5 Steps for Naming Your New Business
You’ve got a great idea for a new business and are ready to go. Only problem is you haven’t found a name for your business yet.
It can be downright agonizing to try to distill your message into a handful of letters, come up with something your mom can spell, not to mention find a URL that’s available and hasn’t been trademarked.
People say that naming a business can be harder than naming a baby—I have four kids and a handful of businesses and I can say that’s true. But you don’t have to let a business name become a major roadblock in your march toward entrepreneurship. Here are some tips to finding the right name for your new business.
1. Start with your brand promise
These days, it seems like the process of naming a business typically involves typing random strings of letters into a domain name search tool and settling on whatever available fictional word sucks the least. But, try to avoid the urge of going straight to a search and first think about your brand and what your new business means.
A great approach is to create a mind map of all the concepts related to your business. Write down any and all words that describe what you want to be known for and any emotions that you’ve felt, or that you want your customers to feel.
2. Follow a few simple naming rules
Branding gurus have all sorts of advice, from beginning the name with a letter high up in the alphabet (A, B, or C) to including a word with K for impact. Generally speaking, your name will grab attention if it’s short and easy to spell. I’ve always tried to limit company names to one or two syllables, and up to seven letters maximum.
Remember that word-of-mouth is incredibly important for early stage companies. If someone recommends your business, the other person has to (a) be able to remember the name and (b) be able to spell it later on. Names that are hard to spell from memory (or hearing on the radio) can be a branding nightmare for a young company.
In addition, avoid picking a name that is related to a specific geography or product category. Being too specific makes it hard to expand down the road.
3. Check for available URLs
Once you have some potential ideas from your brainstorming, you can plug them into a domain name search tool—and cross your fingers and hope for the best. If your first choices aren’t available, you can use an online name generation tool, like NameMesh or LeanDomainSearch, to find a variation that’s available. There are also crowd-sourced contest sites like Squadhelp and Naming Force (think 99Designs, but for company names).
4. Check legal availability
The URL searches will determine if the domain name is available for your business, but you will also need to make sure the name hasn’t already been trademarked or is in use by another business. You are not allowed to use a business name if another company is already using the same or similar name in a similar capacity; this is true whether that company has officially registered the trademark for the name or not.