February 4, 2016

How to Pick the Perfect Name for Your Business or Startup

You want a name that connects with people and moves them to choose you over your competition, so don’t confuse them with the wrong name. Instead, use this list of tips to help pick the right one.

Linguistic Tricks

Play On Your Words

Picking a name that lends itself to wordplay is a great way to make your business memorable. People remember puns and catchy phrases and tend to appreciate the cleverness behind it. Wordplay brings a lot of character to your name, which can be fun for catchphrases, logos, and merchandise. (Just try not to be too cheesy).

Keep It Simple

Above all, don’t make your name confusing. It’s best to stick with a simple name that’s easy to spell and pronounce. It should include words that are either meaningful on a base level or interesting enough to make people want to know what they mean (and the definition better fit in with your branding). Look at Google. The word “Google” is odd, but it’s interesting and unique enough to make people want a closer look. Upon further inspection, we find that it’s a reworking of the word “googol,” which represents the number 1 with 100 zeroes after it. Google can bring a googol of search results. Therefore, a name can be vague, but it should have meaning behind it.

Be Creative

Do not be a copycat. Choosing a business name that is similar to that of other businesses is sure to send you in a downward spiral. Instead, pick a name that people have never heard before. Get creative and think out of the box! Again, look to one of the greatest examples of creative naming: Google. It was so creative and unique that, like Xerox, Post-It, or Velcro, it became a verb.

Consider Your Domain Name

Domains aren’t always easy to find but don’t lose hope. Check out Bust A Name if you’re trying to make a great name and also know if its domain is available. There are many other resources that can provide similar services, and they’re all great springboards from which you can narrow down your name choices.

Narrow It Down

Here comes the fun part: trimming your choices down to the 3 names that you really like. It’s easy to get stuck here; every name has its pros and cons. So, go with your gut and don’t stress. If one doesn’t stand out to you right away, skip it. If you have too many doubts about a name, toss it. Try to get 3 names that you feel comfortable with.

Get a Second Opinion

Now that you’ve narrowed the list down to 3 winners, it is time to consult others. By now, you’ve been looking at these names for so long that you’re numb to picking one favorite.

Reach out to professionals (both left and right-brained pro’s). It can also be a huge advantage to your selection process if you put together a focus group made of your target audience (ideally consumers who don’t know you personally). This will ensure that you get the opinions of those who are not biased or trying to spare your feelings.

One important note: stray from using your friends and family too much. Don’t make any decisions based strictly on what they say. As industry expert Phil Davis explains, naming your company based on what friends and family suggest could result in a “vanilla” name so as to not offend anyone. Remember that this is your baby, and feedback is good only to an extent.

Look to the Future

Consider future branding, catch phrase, logo, and merchandise opportunities. You want a name that is flexible enough to last many years, and interesting enough to be applied to logos and merchandise that people actually want to see.

Your name is the crux of who you are. Make sure that you put in ample time to make a long-lasting, easily brandable, simple (yet unique) name. Easy enough, right?

Brandon West

Brandon West founded PHOS Creative at the age of 26 out of his home office. A strategy-first digital marketing agency headquartered in Florida, PHOS’ growth and culture have been highlighted in the Inc. 5000, Gator100, Florida Trend Magazine, and the Best Christian Workplaces Institute.

Author of It Is Not Your Business to Succeed, Brandon has shared his insights on over seventy stages, addressing topics such as purpose-driven leadership, people-first culture, business as a ministry, authentic branding, and inbound marketing.

Away from his desk, Brandon enjoys dating his wife, mostly losing to his sons at board games, playing guitar and piano, exploring underwater caverns, and pastoring leaders at Salt Church and in the marketplace.