We’re chugging right along with our new series – Business Basics: How to Start a Business with Authenticity and Intention. This six part series will take you through coming up with a new business idea, naming and legally forming your business, setting up your financial structure, branding your new business and building your first website. Today, we’re tackling an area that gives many first time entrepreneurs hives: Naming your brand new business.
Choosing a name is a tricky business, and there are a lot of different ways to do it well. Here are three of our favorite philosophies on selecting a name. Most importantly, choose a name that feels authentic and natural for you and your business.
Approach No. 1: Fanciful
This approach is all about capturing a unique name for your business that will not be easily confused with your competitors and is easy to register, protect and promote. Try combining short words or syllables to make create a sound that resonates with you and your target customers. A major advantage here is that by making up a word, the corresponding domain name is more likely to be available, so use that as deciding factor when playing with different combinations. Examples: Oreo, Xerox.
Approach No. 2: Arbitrary
This approach is designed to create a name that is highly protectable and easy for your customers to remember. Choose a concrete word or combination of words that has no direct relation to your business, but inspires a distinct image and feeling. This makes it easy to associate imagery with your business name and communicate your brand style. In addition, these names are easier to protect via trademark, so consult your trademark attorney for details. Most single word domain names are already registered, so consider combining two words with an “and” or using an adjective or two. Examples: Apple, Domino’s.
Approach No. 3: Personal
Infuse your story into your business by using your name, parts of your name, or the name of someone integral or inspiring to your business. This is immediately authentic and classic, creates a personal connection between you and your customers and is likely to have an available domain name. In addition, if you’re planning to expand your business with speaking, blogging, podcasting, books, courses or other information products, starting to associate your name with your business from the beginning can be very helpful. Examples: kate spade, Johnson & Johnson.
Once you’ve fallen in love with a name for your new business, make sure it’s as good as it gets with the following tests.
Is it easy to pronounce?
Is it easy to spell?
Does it already exist in your industry?
In addition to your garden variety google search, use the Trademark Electronic Search Service at http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/ to see if it has been previously registered. Contact a trademark attorney for legal advice and help with the search.
Does it already exist in other industries?
Again, talk to your lawyer about legal implications, but be aware that a name that is unique to your industry may become an SEO nightmare if it’s already in use in another industry.
Is it kosher in other languages?
If you’re planning to expand internationally, make sure there are no negative translations or connotations associated with your chosen name.
Is there a related domain available?
Stick to the .com domains whenever possible. It’s not ideal, but certainly acceptable to add words like ‘the’ or “co” to your name to find an available domain.
Is it available on all the major social networks?
At a minimum, check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+.
Does it sound appealing?
Does it avoid clichés?
How many corporate names do you know with words like “solutions,” “apex,” or “summit?” What are the common and overused words in your industry?
If it is abstract, is it easy enough to explain?
When you’re finished with today’s important work, you should have a name for your business, a tagline or slogan (if necessary) and a registered domain name.
What possibilities are you considering for your new business name? Let us know in the comments and we'll weigh in!