Our name is usually the first thing we tell someone about ourselves, and the first thing we ask of others in return. We wear our names on jewelry, our license plates, and on name tags at meetings and events; it’s how we tell the world who we are. It works, too: just hearing someone’s name you know can be all it takes to conjure up the person in your mind’s eye.
It is no different for your business: the name you pick for your business will be the name that sticks in your customer’s minds. So, how do you know that you’re getting it right?
Choosing a business name can be an exciting adventure, but at the same time, it can bring forth a lot of anxiety and stress! How can you be sure that the choice you’re making now is still going to work years from now?
The truth is, you can never be entirely certain, and very few things in entrepreneurship are ever truly a sure thing. But with the right approach and some smart research, you can choose a business name that not only captures the spirit of the company you’re building now, but it can also grow alongside that business as it branches out into whatever the future holds.
I’m going to break down choosing a name for your business into six easy steps, using the following example:
Meet Katie! Katie’s been slowly growing a home business on the side, selling cookies by the dozen to friends and neighbors. Her dream is to someday open a bakery of her own, with beautiful cakes and displays overflowing with bread and sweet treats.
The problem? Katie doesn’t know what to name her business.
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Tip #1: Focus on your future and your ability to grow
What if Katie named her business something simple, like Katie’s Cookies? It makes perfect sense; her name is Katie, and right now she makes and sells cookies. It’s a solid choice! And if Katie’s future dream were to open a cookie boutique, she could stop right there and call it a day.
But, the future dream bakery Katie envisions doesn’t stop at cookies. Suppose she indeed gets a cookie business up and running, and down the road she wants to start selling cakes and bread and other treats, too. How will a potential customer know that those items are available to purchase, if the store is still named Katie’s Cookies?
Katie might save herself a little aggravation as she grows her business if she starts with a name that’s a little more inclusive from the start, like Katie’s Creations or Katie’s Kitchen, rather than a name that suggests a single specific product.
Tip #2: Make sure the name has impact and staying power
The name Katie’s Bakery isn’t bad. It does tell us who she is and what she does. But it’s not very sexy, is it?
As a business name, nothing really sets it apart or inspires interest. It only takes a word or two to inject some personality into your company’s name and its identity, so spend some time thinking it through. What about Katie’s Secret Recipes, or maybe Baked by Katie?
Envision a business name that draws the potential customer in. The name you choose is the very foundation of your new business’s brand, and you want it to stick.
Tip #3: Make the name easy to find in search
Lately, it’s been a huge trend among startups to leave out a vowel when naming a business. It’s worked out just fine for the likes of Shipt and Tumblr, but for the most part though, a “clever” spelling can start you off on the wrong foot as an enemy of spell-check and search engines.
Say Katie’s considering a name with a novelty spelling, like Katie’s Kreationz. If I ask my coworker, “Ooh, where’s this cupcake from?” and they tell me “Katie’s Kreationz,” what am I going to type into my search engine? Katie’s Creations.
Hearing the name spoken aloud, how am I supposed to know that a business has chosen a wacky and misspelled name? Don’t create an unnecessary barrier between your business and the customer trying to find it!
Tip #4: Brainstorm at least 10 to 20 options
Yes, 10 to 20 sounds like a lot. But once you get your list completed, it often doesn’t take a whole lot of ammo to start knocking candidates off the list. Some of your name ideas may already be taken, while others may end up troublesome when it comes to registering domain names or social media accounts.
If you only bring three ideas for a business name to the table, don’t be surprised if you walk away with zero ideas just a few minutes later. Why? Because you need something that is available as a business name, a domain name and on social media before you pull the trigger.
Tip #5: Do your research!
So… you’ve come up with a great name for your business. It says something about who you are and what you do, and you feel like it’s a name that will stick. What now?
Even if you’ve come up with the greatest business name of all time, it won’t matter if you can’t use it. Once you’ve narrowed down your list of names to the front-runners, it’s time to start digging.
There are a variety of free websites that can help you research your prospective name. The biggest one you’re looking for first is the domain name, but it doesn’t end there. For the best marketing potential, you want a name that not only has the domain available, but also usernames available on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, etc.
One of my favorite tools to use is NameVine.com, a website that will tell you if the domain name and social handles are available for your business name.
Choosing a name for your business is an important task, but one that should bring more joy than stress. With a strategic approach and an eye to the many possibilities the future of your business may hold, you can create a name that embodies your presence today and upholds its legacy for tomorrow!