Naming your business is one of the mostcrucial decisions you’ll make as an entrepreneur. Not only does your companyname serve as a first impression of your business, it serves as the heart ofyour brand. Branding is about bonding. You want a name that bonds with yourtarget customer; a name that creates comfortable, positive thoughts and feelings.
So how can you come up with a compelling,legally accessible, URL-available name? Try the following three-step process:
Firstly, write down anything and everythingthat enters your mind, especially ideas that seem to “come from nowhere”. Thismeans no self-editing. Your initial responses are key. Ask others for input aswell.
Prime your mind with answers to thefollowing questions:
- Who are my target customers?
- What are they looking for?
- What’s my competitive advantage (eg: quality,speed of service, etc.)?
- What adjectives would I apply to mycompany (such as smart, easy, etc.)? Can I combine any of these words to form acatchy new word or phrase?
- Are there any metaphors or symbols thatcome to mind? For example, an apple is a common symbol for education.
Then narrow them down to a shortlist offive to 10 names. Appraise the names on your brainstorm list using the criterialisted in the table below. Delete any name that you can’t answer “yes” to onthe first five questions.
Step3: Get Feedback
Present your shortlist for feedback to asmany potential customers as possible. Don’t simply hand your list to family andfriends who are of a different gender/age/socio-economic background from yourpotential customers. The name for a business targeting women should beevaluated by women, not men, because men tend to be attracted to differentthings from women. Also, gauge people’s initial reaction – don’t let themdissect the names. Actual customers won’t take the time or effort required tostudy your name, so don’t require it from your test customers. In this case,it’s possible to overthink something.
Finalise a name based on your personalopinions and the feedback of others. Try not to second-guess yourself. When indoubt, go with your gut – that’s what customers do!
Take the Name Test:
- Is it easy to say? Names are said more than read. After all, when words are read, they’re also spoken in the mind of the reader.
- Is it easy to spell? Can customers find it in the phone book or Google it without trouble? Usually words that are easy to spell are also relatively short. Avoid acronyms (such as “K.A.T.G. Enterprises”) and “clever” names that require analysis from your reader (such as “CU4 Lunch”).
- Will it appeal to customers? Words carry both a literal and an emotional meaning. You want to create a positive emotional tie as well as a positive cognitive one. For example, the company name “Hip2b2” carries more emotional meaning than “Hip to be square”.
- Is it legally available? Check this with a lawyer.
- Is it, or some logical form of it, available as a URL? (.com or .org, preferably.) This is less important if the Internet won’t play a large role in your distribution methodology. However, virtually all businesses these days maintain some kind of Web presence.
- Is it interesting or unique? Generic names like “Bikes For Less” are descriptive but not emotionally compelling. What’s more, generic names usually have less stamina from a branding perspective since our minds tend to remember things that are unique.
- Do you visualise anything when you read the name? “Victory Real Estate” might bring to mind a trophy. The addition of a visual element reinforces the name, making it more memorable.
- Is it descriptive? If it’s not, that’s okay. You can always add a tagline or byline for description.