Say my name! What you need to know when naming your business

Image courtesy of Wikimedia user Eviatar Bach

Image courtesy of Wikimedia user Eviatar Bach

Selecting the right name for your business is as important as choosing the ideal name for your child. Just like a less than desirable name for your baby can actually lower self-esteem, a equally unfavorable business name upsets the future prospects of your business.

How do you deal effectively with this enormous responsibility?

Lacking a substantial budget for a global branding campaign to create awareness, build credibility and establish trust with your buyer persona, the time you invest on the front end to develop a distinctive and descriptive business name pays off.

Brainstorm your business name

To get you started on the right foot, here are some well-thought out steps to make the process of naming your business more interesting, fun, and rewarding:

  1. Gather the right people
    Don’t name your business in a vacuum. It won’t be pretty as witnessed by numerous business names that should not have seen the light of day.

    Be sure to include your marketing consultant/creative director. They have knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the marketing industry and bring their branding foresight into the circle of trust.

    You’ll also want to include your graphic designer. Most graphic designers are geniuses when it comes to thinking in word pictures!

    A former or a current client is a plus to have on your brainstorming team. They know you, know your work, and can generate lots of informed names based on their first-hand experience.

    How about a potential buyer? Obviously, this would be someone you know well enough to include in brainstorming. They come with few perceived ideas of what your business does and can put a fresh spin on your company’s name.

    Last, but not least, include your strategic business coach! She has your best interest at heart and likely knows the inner workings of you and your business well enough to capture the essence of your business.

  2. Assemble the right tools
    Egad, how things have changed! When we named Synnovatia in 1997, we had a thesaurus and dictionary on hand. Along with lots of paper, 5×7 cards, crayons, color pens, and what few online tools were available, we were equipped…or so we thought.

    Today, a wealth of online resources and tools await any business owner naming their company. It’s like opening Pandora’s box. You are never sure of what you’ll find.

    Although online resources are plentiful, we still recommend adding a bit of “old school” to the mix with construction paper, magazines, and color pencils…anything that can fuel your creativity.

  3. Loosen up
    Business name brainstorming is not a linear process. Consider adding creative exercises into the mix to get everyone out of their left-brain and into the right side of the brain for maximum creativity.

    An occasional walk (or jog) around your business campus helps to break the logjam of creativity and refreshes the brain cells.

  4. Generate a broad-spectrum of ideas
    Before going too deep into identifying the ideal business name, consider your response to these questions:

    • What do you want your business to be known for?
    • How would you describe your business in one or two words?
    • How do others describe your business in one or two words?
    • What is unique about your business?
    • What is notable about the way your business delivers its products or services?
    • What word(s) are reflective of your identity?
    • If your business were a flower, car, or color, which would it be?

    You’ll be surprised what you’ll discover during what may seem like a dull, boring exercise.

    Write each idea produced on 5X7 cards. Place your concepts on a white board or a wall that allows you to see all your options at a glance.

  5. Make friends with your thesaurus
    Words are powerful. Modify one word with the click of the thesaurus and you have a formidable winner.

  7. Combine words
    Now the real fun begins. Randomly move your cards around on your white board. Mix and match to create a plethora of possibilities.
  8. Experiment by combining portions of words that represent your business and its offerings. Don’t be afraid to be really playful! There are no bad ideas when brainstorming names for your business – at this stage.

  9. Narrow your choices
    After generating a reasonable number of possibilities, remove words that no longer fit or lack luster. Continue to purge, until you can purge no more!

  11. Conduct due diligence
    Now the real nail-biting part of the exercise begins as you vet your choices. Armed with several options, be sure to do your homework by considering domain availability and trademark.

    Absent appropriate due diligence, a conflict with another business name – even if the name’s are not exact – can seem minor – until a “cease and desist” order is delivered to your door step.

Undoubtedly, the process you use to name your business can be daunting. Whatever name you select for your business that is descriptive, distinctive, memorable, and stands the test of time is worth the investment of time and energy to get it right the first time.

Did this help? Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts in the comment section below. You can also reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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