As Shakespeare famously wrote in Romeo & Juliet, “What’s in a name?” The answer when it comes to your business’s name is everything. What you name your business matters. It represents your mission, vision, overall vibe, and products or services. It’s also everything your customers associate with your business. But how do you name your business with so many available options? Whether you’re just starting or refreshing your brand, we have some advice.
Why Branding Matters
Branding is how your customers distinguish your products or services from your competition. It’s a differentiator. It helps customers identify your brand and connects ideas, visuals, and anything else you link to it.
Branding also helps you establish a relationship with your customers. It helps them associate positive things with your brand and gives it value to them. It helps them establish preferences and make recommendations.
In short, no pressure, but branding matters a lot in just about every aspect of your business.
How to Name Your Business
With so much riding on your brand name, how do you choose? It’s not a decision to be flippant about. For instance, we could have chosen a very run-of-the-mill name for our woman-owned marketing agency, but that’s not us. We injected some flavor into our name so you know exactly what you’re getting from the get-go. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s not supposed to be! Your brand name will help sift out your ideal clients from the start. For us, fellow female owned businesses, green businesses, health and wellness companies, and other niche industries. Here’s our business development advice on how to name your business.
1. Brainstorm Ideas
Chances are you already have some ideas about a name you think may fit or some words you’re interested in using. Have a brainstorming session with your team, co-owner, or even just a group of friends. Write down every idea that comes up. Don’t put pressure on yourself to make a decision immediately. Just come up with as many options as you can. Then, whittle it down from there.
2. Let It Incubate and Percolate
Now that you have a list of ideas—step away and do nothing! That’s the most uncomplicated advice you could ever follow. You have a documented list, so step away from it. Work on other things. Some of the ideas will keep coming back to you as you try not to think about them. New names also may arise. If that happens, go ahead and capture those too. Then, sleep on it and sleep on it some more.
3. Make a Shortlist of Your Favorite Business Names
Revisit your list of potential business names once you’ve given it all of the time you can spare or as much time as you’re willing to wait. Think about what keeps coming back to you. Make a shortlist of names to consider. Be sure each name on the list fits the type of business you have, is easy to remember, and has some visual and copy opportunities to play up. Avoid anything too kitschy or difficult to spell. You want something that represents your business, ideal customers, clients, or patients, and has longevity.
4. Check Ownership
You know what ruins an excellent brand name? When another business already uses it! Check the names on your shortlist to see if someone already uses any of the ones you like. If so, it’s probably best to cross them off your list or take a new spin on them to make them unique. Don’t forget to check and make sure the URL is available. Your list likely is getting shorter now.
5. Get Feedback
Now that you have a shortlist of potential business names, ask some members of your target market what they think. Does a name on the list speak to them more than others? What is it that makes it represent your business to them? What do they think about visually when they see this name? It’s ok if the people you ask are divided on a name or like more than one. Options are good.
6. Think About Shelf Life
You don’t want a name for right now. You want a name that will last as long as your business does—hopefully forever. Don’t limit yourself with a name that’s too narrow, geographically bound, or trendy. Trends and styles change. Businesses grow, and products expand. Choose a name your business can grow into, that speaks to your target audience.
7. Consider Tagline Pairings
If you don’t sayw hat your business does in the actual name, you can make a tagline for that! For example, you may opt for something like Zen Cloud and your tagline can be Med Spa and Wellness Studio. The tagline is a great opportunity for you
8. Choose the Best Fit
In the end, it’s up to you to choose the name from your final list that works best for your business and means something to you. It’ll be challenging for you to represent your brand and create associations for it if you don’t have some yourself. Choose the name that feels right to you and is the best fit for your business. Go with your gut on this—or at least the data you gather from surveying potential customers or stakeholders.
9. Make It Official
You’ll need to use Legal Zoom or get a business attorney to file for your business name in your state and get your EIN and all that official stuff. In the meantime, buy the domain name(s) that correspond! You don’t want someone else to come along and snatch them up.
10. Get Ready to Brand Your Business
Once you have a business name, you’ll need a brand style guide complete with logo, typography, color palettes, editorial style guide, photography guidelines, and mood boards. Set aside a branding budget as a part of your overall marketing budget, and hire a great branding agency like Charm School to help!