Finding a strong name for your business is essential to your success — in the short term and the long term. Your business’s name is the first impression your brand has with every potential customer or client. It needs to speak to your values, your mission, and function while simultaneously working to capture attention in the noise and chaos of everyday life. To help you brainstorm and select the name that will define your business’s trajectory, here are some tips from business coach Porter Gale.
First, grab your original business plan and take a look at your vision statement, as well as your intended market and growth strategies. (If you don’t yet have a business plan, identify your goals by asking yourself these three questions). Within your vision statement, intended market, and plan for connecting with customers will be keywords which will help you start building a potential name list.
Make a List
Start writing down those keywords that describe your business. Create a long list of name candidates, as in hundreds of possibilities. Expand your initial words by using tools such as a Thesaurus, Oxford English Dictionary, and Urban Dictionary. The more names you have the more likely you will find the name that tells the story of your business. It also helps to check these names to see how often they are searched for on the Internet. Tools like Google Adwords and Moz are helpful during this stage.
Check It Twice — With People You Trust
Gather your friends and family — everyone you trust most to give you honest feedback — and have them review your list of ideas. Rather than ask your review board which candidates they like for possible names, reiterate the genesis of your business idea, the objectives of your company, and what you want to accomplish with the name itself. With a refreshed, top-level view of your intention for this word or phrase, they can then make informed choices as they go through the candidates.
Use These Two Questions to Filter Finalists
Now that you have narrowed your candidates down to the strongest, most on-brand it is time to evaluate those choices for availability.
Has the name been trademarked already?
Use the Trademark Electronic Search System to determine if someone has already registered the name. Don’t be discouraged if you find an office supply store in Omaha has the same name you wanted to claim for your photography business — keep in mind that companies in different industries may be allowed to have similar names. Make note of any businesses with matching names and run the idea past an attorney to make sure the potential name doesn’t make you vulnerable for trademark infringements.
Is the URL available?
Is yourbusinessnamehere.com available? If not, have you thought about whether it needs to be an exact match, or is it alright if the URL is slightly different from the business name? While an exact match is preferred, you may need to go with a slight variation. Try to stay away from misspellings or using numbers in place of letters — keep the consumer in mind. You want to make finding your business online an easy, seamless process that maps to their first instinct.
Plan for World Domination
Even if you don’t plan on going international right away, it’s important to plan for the future. Choosing a name that doesn’t work on the global stage could potentially hurt you later on. Make sure that your name doesn’t have a misleading or offensive name — in any language. Use online translation sites and foreign language dictionaries to ensure the name won’t cause issues in other cultures or mean something other than exactly what you want it to mean.
Your company name is your introduction to potential customers and clients, as well as the public persona driving your business forward and setting the tone of all conversations about your brand. By devoting the right amount of thoughtful, strategic time and energy to developing your company’s name, you are setting a powerful groundwork for the trajectory and reputation you desire for your business.