Coming up with a business name is one of the beginning steps for opening up shop. And one of the most important. You can’t hang a sign or start a website titled “To be determined.” Well, you could. But you shouldn’t. Unless you are opening up a sonographer business or something.
So far I’ve started 8ish different businesses (one a rebranding) and have come up with a variety of different business names. I’ve learned along the way what works and what doesn’t.
There are different things to consider depending on the type of business you are opening.
My shops range from etsy to photography to websites. All creative ventures. Personally, I think all businesses need at least a tiny speck of imagery in them. Even law offices. Whether in the logo, the profile of the company, or the name. No one wants a stuffy name that makes you doze off in the middle of reading about them.
You won’t be remembered if you aren’t memorable. Duh. A LOT goes into being memorable, but today we will just talk about the business/website/brick-and-mortar shop name.
These aren’t rules, of course. Just guidelines. And each person can redraw the guidelines to make them fit their own needs.
What’s in a name?
Before you determine your name, you need to figure out what you are “selling;” yourself, shipped goods, knowledge, coffee, tattoos, services, whatever.
Then you need to determine your audience. Imagine one single perfect person that wants what you are giving. What are they like? How old are they? What do they value?
Decide whether you will be selling online or in a physical location. Or both.
If you are selling online, you need to consider how search engine friendly the name is, as well as how easy it is for somebody to remember. A pile of hyphens or numbers or 27 words in a name might be difficult to conjure up later. It’s best to avoid weird spellings. People won’t be searching koolkidzklose when trying to find that cool kids clothes shop they ran across on instagram. If you have to explain how to spell something, it’s best not to use it. Unless you are just totally awesome and people don’t care if you have no vowels in your business name.
Another thing to look into once you start coming up with ideas is to make sure they aren’t already taken. I like to go to a domain-purchasing site, like GoDaddy.com, and type in favorite names and words to see what is available. It’s also a good idea to make sure the name you want isn’t trademarked.
How to come up with the kick-ass business name?
Create an image in your head.
Do you see an artist painting a brick wall? A child climbing up a slide? A monkey riding a bicycle? A toilet spraying water on a fire? A couple kissing under a waterfall? A lawyer holding a shield? Play out a vision of what you want your customers to feel or see when they read your business name.
Look for symbolism in that imagery.
Do certain words or images have a deeper meaning related to your product? I have an etsy shop that I started in 2012 called The Green Orangutan. If I started all over I might call it something else, but I loved the imagery. At least in my head. Its focus was on using sustainable “green” materials. And the original focus of it was on breastfeeding. And the orangutan is one of the most maternal mother’s out there.
A lot. Find words that relate to your business and mission. Write them down. Then use a thesaurus and find words that relate to those words, and then more words that relate to those other words. You want a big pile of words to choose from. This step usually takes me a couple of weeks. I keep words handy that really resonate with me, and do a ton of crossing off. I wrote this post on the power of brainstorming.
Find a brainstorm buddy.
It’s difficult to bounce ideas off yourself. You are too close to the project. Find some friends, one friend, or a partner that you can throw ideas around with. Someone that isn’t afraid to say, “eh, keep looking,” when you aren’t quite on the money spot of the best name for your business.
Mash up ideas.
I really love having a name that is part imagery, part tangible. Like Deep Think Mom. I imagine digging deep into topics with deep think. And a mom is a tangible woman that you can see and touch. I also run another blog with friends called Pocketful of Pebbles. It was our learning curve name. We came up with the idea of a parent finding a pocketful of pebbles and little beautiful gems of wisdom that are easily digestible that you can carry around with you in your pocket for whenever you need them. But we struggle with the name because it isn’t immediately clear what it is about. Which leads me to…
Make it clear what the business is about.
A new person coming across your website or social media page should immediately have a clear idea about the kind of information, service, or product they are about to see. Tons of businesses have just one awesome word for their business that doesn’t describe what the business is about. And sometimes that works. In those cases, or Pocketful of Pebble’s case, we have a subtitle. A little message following the name that clears up any confusion. Be clear in your name and message. Your business name is a first impression. And you know what they say about first impressions.
Keep your options open.
With your name. Try not to use a specific location or type of product unless you are absolutely sure you won’t be moving or selling anything outside of that box. Find a name that keeps your options open in case you want to expand into other areas.
The name of your business has a huge impact on the way that your customers (and even investors) view you. It’s best to do the research up front so that you aren’t trying to fix it later. I know when I have an idea I want to start it right now, but it is a process that should be given full thought so that you can knock it out of the park from the beginning.
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