Thursday 3 June 2021

How to create a killer business name.

Picking a business name before settling for one business idea is like buying a wedding dress before getting a boyfriend. It is exciting, and all, but chances are you will get stuck with a misfitting name (and a dress). Having said that, choosing a name is super-exciting, and I am guilty of coming up with names, and picking wedding dresses, way too soon. This article will take you through the key points to consider when picking your business name.

Do you already have some names up the sleeve? Check if you can answer 'yes' to all the below. 

  1. Is it memorable? 
  2. Is it easy to spell and pronounce? 
  3. Is it relevant but also expandable?
  4. Is it better than your competitors? 
  5. Is it available (URL, trademark, social media)? 
  6. Does it have only positive meanings in other languages? 

I prepared a bit more detail for each category in case you do not have any name yet or if you replied 'no' to any of the above. 

1. Make it memorable. 

This seems obvious: when you mention your name to anyone, you want it to stick. You want it to stick so that people can find you later. Usually, you will remember some words and word combinations more easily than other. So what makes names memorable? Here are a few tips.

Unique combinations 

Unique combinations will make your audience pause for a second. This extra second will be an extra second to digest the name and remember it for longer. The combinations can be complementary, contradictory or completely random. If your business idea is based on one of these combinations, you will have an easy job coming up with your name. 

Some examples of unique name combinations are Mystery & Make-up (complimentary), Pink Floyd (random), Rolling stones (complimentary), Guns 'N Roses (random). 

Alliteration, Rhythm & Rhymes 

Names that rhyme or have a rhythm are easier to remember. So do names with alliteration, that is, when the same letter or sound occurs at the beginning of two words. People also enjoy saying them. There is a fine line between a creative name that sticks and a cheesy one. For that reason, I prefer names with alliteration and rhythm instead of rhymes. For example, Coca-Cola, Best Buy, BlackBerry, Dunkin’ Donuts, Brooks Brothers are so easy to remember thanks to alliteration and rhythm. 

Try to come up with a few name variants that have an alliteration or rhyme. If you get stuck with words, you can use pages such as for synonyms and antonyms and RhymeZone to find words that rhyme. 

Tell a Story 

Creating stories is one of the tricks to memorize long lists of unrelated words. Our brain is capable of retaining stories substantially longer than word combinations. You may have a story about how you came up with your name, or even better, have your name tell the story. 

One of my side hustles was called Blue Moon Studios; why? Because I got to work on it only once in a blue moon. Unfortunately, this was so much true that it never fully took off. 

The founders of ‘Virgin’ admitted through their name that they were completely new to the business, hence the name. I bet you will never forget their name now.

2. Make it easy to spell & pronounce.

Once, I was helping a friend to come up with a band name. After some wine and throwing ideas around, we came up with the name Gypsy Genes. My friend saw himself as a bit of a nomad and gypsy soul, so it fit him and his music. He was immediately sure that this was the name. The rhythm of these two words made it easy to remember and pronounce. However, the name had one pitfall, which we did not see. When the name was announced on the radio, people thought it was Gypsy Jeans

Try to say your name out loud. Share it with someone and ask them what they understood. Imagine how understandable it will be when you say it over a call when the signal is not strong. Once you start hustling, you will be spelling your name over a call a lot. Make it easy on yourself! 

3. Make it relevant but expandable. 

I remember a story from a successful entrepreneur who wanted to name her business after her dog, and so she did. She owned a candle business. It took her about a year to convince people that her business is not about dog cookies. 

Your name does not have to be necessarily related to your core products. Some even argue that associating it too closely with your core product may lead to future troubles. Mostly if you decide to add new products to your product line. 

On one hand, if you relate your name directly to a specific product, your customers will easily understand what you are about. On the other, if your name is loosely connected to your business, you will have more expansion options. The right choice depends on what you plan to do. 

Consider relating your name to your business core that is such a key point of your business idea that it won’t change. Such a core can be some of your business values or why and how you do what you do. 

Your name should, however, not be easily relatable to completely unrelated industries. Try to share your name ideas with someone who has no clue what your business is about and ask them for feedback. This may be the best investment of 5 minutes. 

Can you see what Fiverr, Shopify, Pinterest, Facebook, Paypal and similar companies have in common? The names are directly related to what the business is about. Fiverr is about gigs that cost 5 dollars, Shopify, and the rest does not need an explanation. The names communicate what the business is about but do not prevent its growth. 

4. Make it better than your competitors. 

Check out your competitors and the names they choose. Check out other businesses similar to yours that are located in other countries. What is it that they did right, and what is that they could have done better? Is their name more memorable than yours? Then you better sit down with a pen and paper and keep brainstorming. 

5. Make it unique.

Speaking of competitors, your name definitely cannot be too similar to any other business. Trademark protects a name from using or creating nearly identical names. The related law will prevent you from using Adldas, Starbacks and similar. Now to the tricky part. In U.S., the law states that certain sets of words are considered the same such as curtain and blind. In that view, Betty’s curtains and Betty’s blinds would be considered as the same name and not allowed. 

When I am coming up with names, I immediately check each for available URLs. It happened to me way too many times that I got excited about the name, which was taken. 

If you plan to have your business only in a specific country, picking your local domain may solve this issue. Avoid adding dashes to your URL so that you can keep your favourite name. People will keep forgetting the dash and ending up at your competitor's site! 

If your URL is available, check the key social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest for availability. While you would be able to create alternative usernames, it will always make you a little more difficult to find, and besides, your business cards will look a little untidy. 

6. Make it foreign-language-friendly. 

Maybe you plan to stay in your home country and never step across borders. Even so, cross-check that your name is not something obscene in another language. It will prevent unwanted attention and traffic. If you have any other tips on the best name, share them in the comments below.

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