Naming Your Business! Step-by-Step Guide

Branding

Giving your business a unique name is one of the most important decisions you make when starting your company.

Your name makes a huge first impression and serves as the heart of your brand!

But!

Finding the perfect name can be notoriously difficult.

Here are some questions we get asked all the time:

  • How do I name my startup?
  • Where do I find creative business name ideas?
  • What online naming tools can help me?

So…

We realized many new and small business struggle with finding a great name.

And so did we by the way.

Which is why we developed this simple step-by-step guide to finding a business name you’ll be proud of.

Step 1: Brainstorming

Step 2: Evaluate your names

Step 3: Get feedback from potential customers

Step 4: Make your decision

Let’s get the ball rolling…

 

Step 1: Brainstorming. Prime your mind. 

Who are my target customers?

Who are the people that really want or need what you’re offering?

Already have an idea?

Great!

Time to refine your target market by identifying who has bought your product or service. Things to include in your research are demographics, audience type, and any other attributes about your target customer segment.

Need a little extra help? Here are 7 simple steps to follow:

  1. Gather intel. Clearly define your target audience
  2. Create customer profiles and market segments.
  3. Be specific. Narrowing down your target customer is more art than a science.
  4. Tap existing resources. Use online resources to your advantage
  5. Check out your competition
  6. Primary research. Surveys, interviews, and focus groups!
  7. Look at your business with new eyes.

Still hungry for more on the topic?

Check out this comprehensive article on identifying your target market.

What are my customer’s needs?

Everyone wants to stay relevant and innovative. But doing the simple things well is often all you need.

Make sure to really understand your customer’s needs. It will be vital for your company’s growth and longevity.

We really enjoyed learning about the 15 most common customer needs by reading this article.

What’s my competitive advantage?

Competitive advantage is defined as the ability to stay ahead of the present or potential competition. Try to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses and then compare them to your competitors.

Is there a gap in the market or another thing that makes you stand out from the rest?

Quality, speed, affordability, or variation?

Whatever it may be. Sticking to your strengths is often a great place to start.

What adjectives apply to my company?

Take some of the adjectives we use as an example:

Some companies even combine adjectives, verbs or nouns to form a catchy new word or phrase.

Take these 4 global businesses as an example.

 

1. Why is Netflix called Netflix?

The name is a combination of words. The “Net” is derived from the word Internet and “Flix” is a shortened version of the word flicks – a synonym for the word “movie”. Put them together and you get why Netflix is called…Netflix.

Clever, don’t you think?

2. How did Twitter get its name?

According to Wikipedia, Dorsey has explained the origin of the “Twitter” name: “…we came across the word ‘twitter’, and it was just perfect. The definition was ‘a short burst of inconsequential information,’ and ‘chirps from birds”. As we all know by now that’s exactly what the product was back then and is today.

3. Why is it called PayPal?

The founders of the company, Levchin and Thiel, first met in 1998 to discuss a financial investment for a mobile money transfer startup called Field Link. When Field Link floundered among consumers, the duo decided to rename the company Confinity and launch PayPal, a service that focused on “paying your pal” through peer to peer money transfers. This witty combination has created a name that is recognized globally.

4. How did Instagram come up with their name?

The name Instagram is a portmanteau of “instant camera” and “telegram.” The founder, Systrom, wanted the name to be easy to pronounce, spell and follow the “right here, right now” concept. Similar to PayPal, Netflix, and Twitter, Instagram cleverly combined two words that described what the service delivered to form the name of the business.

5. Why did we choose NewGlue?

NewGlue is an innovative marketplace helping professional graphic designers sell their work to startups and small businesses alike. Our dream was to build a community of brand-loving designers and ambitious businesses that can easily connect with each other. Therefore, creating a new type of “glue” like bond between the two parties, and awesome branding that is sticky as hell, of course.

 

Are there any metaphors or symbols that come to mind? 

A great example for this is the brand name Volvo, which was originally registered as a trademark in May 1911 with the intention to be used for a new series of SKF ball bearings.

It means “I roll” in Latin, conjugated from “volvere“.

Step 2: Evaluate your names. Make them stick!

  • Is it easy to say?
    • Keep it simple
  • Is it easy to spell? 
    • Keep it simple
  • Does it have a positive connotation that’ll appeal to customers? 
    • For example, “Li’l Sis” vs “Little Sister.”
      • Which one do you think appeals to a younger crowd?
  • Is it interesting or unique? 

Need help? These business name generator tools may come in handy

Brainstorming is an important part of the creative process.

Experiment with different combinations of these words and then analyze your favorite combinations to see if the names are available and catchy.

Keep in mind that successful businesses have had all kinds of names from acronyms (AIG, IBM), people’s names (JP Morgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson), places or things (Apple, Shell, Amazon), descriptive names (British Airways, Bank of America), or even completely arbitrary made up words (Kodak, Xerox).

 

  • Do you visualize anything when you read the name?
    • Try to trigger peoples imagination!
  • Is it descriptive? Does it hint of what you actually offer?
    • Think Netflix…
  • Don’t box yourself

You might want to pivot your business later or sell your product at a vastly different price point. If you box yourself in with the name, you might lose some flexibility later on when you’re trying to make the business work.

  • Is it legally available? 

You’re not the only one who has had an idea for a business after a quick rush of inspiration, and came up with a clever and catchy name – only to find out a few Google searches later that the name has already been taken.

We’ve all been there…

According to Forbes, there are an estimated 27 million businesses in the United States alone!

Which is why…

Finding something truly original can be a challenge. So the first thing you should consider when picking out a name is whether or not it’s available.

Do a quick web search!!

If you have a name in mind that you like, the first thing you should do is a quick Google search to see if anyone is using it already.

If someone is already using the name you like, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it should make you stop and consider a few things.

  • Is this business in a similar industry?
  • Do they have a legal trademark?

You can even check with your country’s trademark authority before making a final decision. The last thing you want is legal trouble before your company even gets started!

So…

Check the availability of your Trademark before you do anything.

Be sure to define your exact product or service and choose the right trademark group.

Read more about how to trademark your business here.

  • Is it, or some logical form of it, available as a URL? 

You’ll also want to check the availability of the web address (URL) online. Unless you have very good reasons for not having a website, we strongly recommend getting your brand online.

This means checking for available URL’s is very important before making a final decision!

Your website should be easy to remember and for obvious reasons have a clear connection to your brand name. You can search for available URL’s at godaddy.com.

The URL does not have to be the exact brand name (it is actually quite likely your first choices for a web address will not be available). For example; if your brand name is ‘Sunny Side’, you will probably find that sunnyside.com is not available.

However…

You might try sunnysidetravels.com, sunny-side.com, sunnysideparis.com, sunnyside.fr or even something more catchy like gotothesunnyside.com.

It is worth noting that most people associate the ‘.com’ name with businesses that are more established.

Want to be taken seriously?

Consider owning the ‘.com’ domain of your business’s name. If it’s not available, you can always reach out to the owner. In some cases, they may be willing to sell it.

Here are a few other ways to check if your name is available with a good domain.

Check the social media availability

In addition to a domain, you’ll probably want to own the relevant social media handles.

Here’s a useful tool.

Even if you don’t plan on having a presence on social media at the start, it’s really worth it to create accounts with the name you want so that others can’t take that name in the future.

Do your research!

See if the names you want are available on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and any other platforms you could see yourself using.

We highly recommend using the same name from platform to platform so that it’s easy for people to find you.

Notice how LA-based clothing brand, Pac Sun, has the same name across all of their social media platforms.

For more information on crush your social media, read our complete guide on social media branding.

 

Step 3: Get feedback from potential customers. Learn how to listen.

  • Present your shortlist to potential customers

If your business is targeting women exclusively, make sure to ask mainly women for their advice and vice versa.

  • Gauge people’s initial reaction 

The name of your business needs to catch on and feel good immediately.

Don’t let people overthink it or dissect it before sharing their opinion. Their gut feeling is really important!

 

Step 4: Make your decision. Be smart.

Choose wisely and weigh your personal opinions against the feedback of others

The most important thing is that you settle on a name that you LOVE!

Because…

You don’t want to have to change it later…

Related:

Once you’ve got a name you like, be sure to check out our article about how to find the perfect logo.


Lucas Langen

by Lucas Langen

Co-Founder & CMO at NewGlue. Favorite branding: Patagonia

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