So, you’ve got a killer business idea, you’ve set up your business model, and all that’s left before you get everything up and running is coming up with a company name that sells itself.
From name generators to performing a name search, there are plenty of ways of coming up with a one that’ll stick. Here are our top tips for naming your new small business.
1. Choose Something that’s Easy to Say (And Spell!)
A lot of business owners make the mistake of creating a brand new word that’s just too difficult to say or spell. This can be dangerous, especially during investment pitches, and can even make spreading brand awareness really tricky.
One way to avoid this is to choose suffixes and prefixes (little bits added onto a word at either side, e.g. ‘ily’, or even more troublesome, ‘ology’) that make your business name far too complicated. Take ‘Teaosophy’ as an example – bet you can’t say that 5 times in a row! Try typing it out; it’s pretty tricky. You want customers to be able to search for you online, so take that into account when coming up with your own ideas.
2. It Should Look Good as a Domain Name
Try typing or writing out your business name with a .com or .co.uk next to it and see what it would read like as a URL. Unfortunately, Choose Spain (choosespain.net) did not check this before registering their website domain.
3. Create a Name that Means Something
Great business names evoke powerful images and messages to their consumers – take Land Rover and Not on the High Street for example. Lots of businesses find success with ones that do what they say on the tin, making it a great place to start for ideas about your own.
4. Find a Word That Works as a Verb
Brand names are normally proper nouns (things), but once you become the talk of the town, you’ll wish you’d created a name that also acts as a verb (a doing word). Take Google, for example – Google is a thing, first and foremost. But people also use it as a verb, e.g. ‘I Googled it’, or ‘just Google it’.
If you eventually want your company name to be used like this, find a word that works in this way.
5. Write Down All the Names You Think Of
Keep your options open and write everything down; you never know what might inspire your and your team when you’re coming up with ideas. Some things might sound great, but not work written down and vice versa. And this way, no great business name idea will be forgotten.
6. Make a Word Up
Sometimes this really works – like Etsy – and sometimes it really doesn’t (we’re looking at you Zumper and Iggli).
If you do choose to go down this route, make sure to get a second opinion. Ask potential customers using a survey, ask fellow entrepreneurs on LinkedIn and even ask your colleagues for their opinion. That way, you’re more likely to find a fit for your startup.
7. Take Inspiration from Your Own Name
If you have a unique surname, you’re a lucky soon-to-be business owner! Examples of famous businesses named after their founder include food manufacturer Smucker’s (whose slogan is literally, ‘With a name like Smucker’s, it has to be good!’), Hoover and Kellogg’s.
These are now synonymous with the products they represent. However, if you have a more common name, be aware that this might not be the best option for your business. After all, you want to make sure you stand out!
8. Make it Catchier with Initials
Long business names can sometimes be a mouthful, but sound great as acronyms or initialisms.
For example, DMA is a lot more memorable than Data & Marketing Association, and everyone knows what the BBC is – even if they don’t know that it stands for the British Broadcasting Corporation.
During your idea session, try using initials to create an appealing brand name.
9. Try a Different Language
If your business’ name sounds a little dull in English, why not try translating it into something else? Latin and Greek ones generally prove successful. Delivery company Hermes takes inspiration from the Greek god of trade and merchants.
Another example of this is online forum Quora, which comes from the Latin ‘Quorum’, referring to a council that comes together to come to an agreement.
10. Explore Keywords
Another great way of figuring out what to call your business is by conducting a bit of keyword research into the types of products or services you sell.
Use tools such as Google AdWords’ keyword planner to take a look at what people search for when looking for your product. Coming up with a name that features the top words is a great way of making sure your business is top of the rankings when people search for you.
11. Keep it Short and Sweet
The biggest businesses often have the shortest names. One-worders are the most common type of name – like Amazon, eBay and Twitter. And the reason why lots of businesses abbreviate their names as initials is because it makes them more memorable.
The key thing to take away from this? The shorter, the better!
12. Avoid Alternative Spellings
Brands that use alternative spellings like like Flickr and Tiinkk are extremely common, but we predict that this is about to drastically change.
Research by Apline.AI reveals that there are currently over 1 billion voice searches conducted every month, while comScore predict that 50% of all online searches will be voice-based by 2020. With voice activated technology taking over the way we use the internet, alternative spellings won’t always be picked up by ‘virtual assistants’ like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa.
We recommend picking a name that’s voice-search friendly to help future-proof your brand.
13. Try a Name Generator
If you type ‘business name generator’ into your chosen search engine, you’re likely to find pages and pages of these kinds of tools. Have a go at creating a unique one using one of these – or even just use them for extra inspiration!
14. Get Feedback
The best way to test how effective your new business name is? Ask everyone. You can conduct a survey amongst your employees, share one on your social media accounts, and even email one out to your mailing list.
The respondents will act as a sample of the general public – if they like it, that’s a good sign, if not, it’s back to the drawing board.
15. Conduct a Business Name Search
Once you’ve decided on a name, it’s time to check whether or not it’s available. For UK businesses, you can check this here using Companies House’s checker.
16. Test How it Looks as a Logo
Next, it’s time to check what your company logo design would look like. You can either hire a graphic design team to create your logo, or use Canva’s free online logo maker and create something by yourself.
Make sure it’s obvious what your brand name is from your logo. Need a little more help? Here’s how to create the perfect logo for your startup.
17. Register the Domain Name
You’ve settled on the perfect name for your new business, and now all that’s left to do is register the domain name!
One popular way of doing this is through GoDaddy.com, who offer domain names for as little as £0.99! Once you’ve bought the domain name, it’s yours; no one else can use it and your business is good to go.