You’ve had the brilliant idea. You’ve analyzed the logistics. You’ve finally decided to start your own business. All that’s left to do now is name it, right?
Easier said than done. Naming a business is an incredibly important first step toward future success, and the importance of getting it right can’t be overstated. Because building a brand takes time and dedication, changing the name of your business is a major undertaking and should be avoided if possible. The best way to avoid a name change? Taking the time to select the right name from day one.
Let’s talk about how to do that.
The complexity of naming your business can be determined in part by the type of name you decide to use. So let’s get that out of the way first. In her fantastic book Designing Brand Identity (4th edition), Alina Wheeler offers a great section about creating the perfect business name, in which she outlines the seven major categories of business names. Below, we’ll take a closer look at the qualities of each, the advantages and disadvantages, and some examples.
If you (or something associated with your business) has a great name that lends itself well to a brand, you’re in luck. This could make the process of choosing a name much simpler, and will make the trademarking part easier too. Just be sure that the name you choose a) belongs to someone you trust and b) has no unintended negative or confusing connotations as it pertains to your business. Examples: Anheuser-Busch, Duke Energy, John Deere
If you are a straightforward kind of person, you might be attracted to this category most. Descriptive business names are upfront about the industry they are in or the kind of products and services they offer. Be aware that if you have plans to grow and diversify your business in the future, you might want to consider a different style that won’t become limiting at some point down the road. Examples: U-Haul, General Motors, Burger King
If you’re particularly creative, you might prefer to just make up your own word. Because businesses that choose this route have to spend a good deal of time and money helping people learn what exactly they do, it’s smart to include some nod to your industry or your unique selling proposition in a fabricated name. Examples: Instagram, Vistaprint, Samsonite
Another great option is to choose a person, place, mood, etc. that embodies some qualities of your business, but does not directly describe your industry or offerings. Metaphor names make the audience pause to consider the relationship between your business and the metaphor, which is a great way to keep them engaged. Examples: Apple, Kayak, Nike
The acronym naming strategy can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, it shares the advantages of uniqueness and relevance with Founder and Descriptive naming, but it has the downside of ambiguity that comes with Fabricated naming. You may have to spend the first decade of your business’ life spelling out the words of the acronym underneath the logo in order to create a solid association. Examples: AARP, MTV, IKEA
6. Magic Spell
Especially popular for technology companies and online businesses, this strategy takes a descriptive word and alters the spelling in some way to make it unique and recognizable. A good choice if you are attracted to Descriptive, but want something with a little more character. Examples: Krispy Kreme, Amtrak, Nesquik
Another great option is to come up with some fantastic combination of the above that helps people understand what you do, and the way in which you do it.
Hopefully considering a naming category has helped starting the naming process feel a little less overwhelming. Have already named your business, or want some feedback on names you’re considering for a future business? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Content Marketing Manager at Webs, where she also manages marketing for Pagemodo – a suite of social media tools. Loves marketing, small businesses, and whales. Get more from Sarah on the Webs Blog, Twitter, and Google+.