How to Name Your Business
When you first start a business, the struggle to name your business that’s agreeable to you and your audience is certainly real. This name will mark the beginning of your company’s culture, your brand, and it will follow you into the foreseeable future, so no pressure right? Believe me, I’ve been there and I have put forth my time in research, brainstorming sessions, list making, and multiple elimination processes, so I can tell you that it’s no easy feat.
So if you feel overwhelmed with research to name your business or lost with no clue on where to begin, here’s my simple method for naming a business.
1. Get to Know yourself and your Business
In order to come up with a great name that communicates who you are and what you do as a business, you need to dig deep and brainstorm some initial keywords. To begin, ask yourself these questions:
What do you want to communicate to your potential customers? What are some of the main keywords in your industry? (Think about what you do and some of the services you offer.) What makes you valuable and different from your competitors? Who is your ideal audience? (Be as specific as possible. Include age range, gender, salary range, industry, etc.) What are some of your business’s main personality traits? (Examples: social, easygoing, smart, multifaceted, loyal, etc.) What are 4 descriptive words that you want others to associate with your brand?
2. Brainstorm your Root Words
Take a look at your answers to the questions above and develop a list of words. This initial list will be considered your root words and are determined by two factors: literal and figurative.
Literal: Literal words are the basic, straight-forward terms that are associated with your industry, like products and services. So if I had coffee shop in Seattle, mine would most likely be: bistro, cafe, coffee, and espresso.
Figurative: The figurative words would stem from the descriptions of the literal. This means that they could be names, objects, phrases, moments, feelings, etc. Anything is possible in this category, as long as it makes sense to your targeted audience. Using the same example above, some of my descriptive words for my coffee shop would be: aquatic, wired, mellow, and zest.
3. Mix & Match Words
Next, take your list of root words and start combining them to form a new list of possible business names. Using my previous example about the coffee shop, here are some possible combinations: The Aquatic Bistro, Mellow Espresso, Zest & Savor Coffee, and The Wired Café.
This stage of the process should be fun and unlimiting. Think about each word and rearrange them with words that flow together and make sense for your business’s goals and vision. If you need a reminder of this, reference the answers to the six questions you answered about your business at the first stage.
If you need more ideas on how you can mix and match your root words, The Name Inspector has a fantastic article on 11 different types of names and the pros and cons of each.
4. Categorize your Names
If you’ve done the second and third stage correctly, you should have a bunch of terms that reflect multiple themes, tones, and feelings. Once you have a wide variety of options, the following step is to organize your findings by separating these into categories. This will result in your third and final list.
Like the mix and match stage, there is no right or wrong way to organize your list of words. Some could be arranged by key themes, while others could be arranged by name types (outlined by The Name Inspector). Personally, I like to outline by theme. For example, my fictional coffee shop’s would look like this:
5. The Elimination Process
Take a look at your newly organized list of ideas and start highlighting your favorites. Before you show anyone else your top choices, take a minute and ask yourself these questions:
Which one fits your company’s description the best? Which one best fits your long and short-term goals? Does it accurately tell your company’s story? Does the imagery associated with the name seem appropriate? Will it attract your ideal audience? Does the URL look weird?
If a name does not pass all of these questions, eliminate your idea right away. Use the names that surpass these questions.