Your business name has a tremendous impact on how customers and investors view you, and in today’s small world, it’s a global decision. Start by deciding what you want your name to communicate. What is the purpose of your business, the values, the personality. What emotion do you want your name to evoke? The more your name communicates to consumers about your business, the less you will have to explain it.
Your business name is the start of your brand story. It is very useful as a marketing tool to explain your business. A client came to us wanting a name for their nut butters. We discussed their business model and vision for the future and realised the commonality of all their products was always a base recipe of one nut type with added spices. We came up with the name ‘Nutfusion’ which reflected their point of difference in the market. The client could then explain to customers how each product was made of a nut base with a fusion of other herbs and spices to make them exotic and individual.
Nutfusion is a successful brand identity and naming case study that Liquid worked on.
10 Tips for naming your startup business
When choosing a business name, keep the following tips in mind:
- Choose a name that appeals not only to you but also to the kind of customers you are trying to attract.
- Choose a comforting or familiar name that conjures up pleasant memories so customers respond to your business on an emotional level.
- Don’t pick a name that is long or confusing.
- Stay away from cute puns that only you understand.
- Don’t use the word “Inc.” after your name unless your company is actually incorporated.
1. Avoid unusual spelling
When creating a name, stay with words that can easily be spelled by customers. Some startup founders try unusual word spellings to make their business stand out, but this can be trouble when customers ‘Google” your business to find you, or try to refer you to others. Stay with traditional word spelling, and avoid those catchy words that you love to explain at cocktail parties.
2. Easy to remember
Your business should be easy to pronounce and remember. Acronyms have no meaning to most people, are not personable and don’t connect to audiences.
Short, simple and sharp is the key. Try to limit it to two syllables. Avoid using hyphens and other special characters. These days, it’s even beneficial if the name can easily be turned into a verb, like Google me.
4. Made up name
If you come up with a made up name always check the meaning of the name in another language. It may have a negative and even obscene definition.
Make sure the name you choose is available as a business name and a domain name for your website. Decide on the audience you are targeting: ie. whether you want to purchase it as a.com. or .com.au name, or both. Purchase the name if it available. I have had clients that have chosen a name, sat on it for several months and then tried to purchase the name and it had been taken. They then needed to start the whole process from scratch again.
Check that the domain for your business name is available.
6. Fit for growth
Choose a name that allows the business to grow in different directions, add new products or categories or diversify. This means you may avoid geographic locations or product categories to your business name.
7. Testing your name
Try testing your name, but only get feedback from your target audience and not your family. Don’t just ask them if they like it but ask them direct questions like:
- What does this name say about their business?
- What personality does the name project?
- Whay type of business or industry do they operate in?
- What is their impression and is it the one you are after?
8. Get Creative
At a time when almost every existing word in the language has been trademarked, the option of coining a name is becoming more popular. Some examples are Acura and Compaq, which were developed by naming firm NameLab.
Coined names can be more meaningful than existing words, says NameLab president Michael Barr. For example, “Acura” has no dictionary definition but the word suggests precision engineering, just as the company intended. NameLab’s team created the name Acura from “Acu,” a word segment that means “precise” in many languages. By working with meaningful word segments (what linguists call morphemes) like “Acu,” Barr says the company produces new words that are both meaningful and unique.
Barr admits, however, that made-up words aren’t the right solution for every situation. New words are complex and may create a perception that the product, service or company is complex, which may not be true. Plus, naming beginners might find this sort of coining beyond their capabilities.
An easier solution is to use new forms or spellings of existing words. For instance, NameLab created the name Compaq when a new computer company came to them touting its new portable computer. The team thought about the word “compact” and came up with Compaq, which they believed would be less generic and more noticeable.
After speaking to their customers, Liquid found that vinx2’s name didn’t resonate with their audiences and we created a new name and identity – vintrace that reflected the winery management software’s true meaning and purpose.
9. Test Your Name
After you’ve narrowed the field to four or five names that are memorable and expressive, you are ready to do a trademark search. Not every business name needs to be trademarked, as long as your state government gives you the go-ahead and you aren’t infringing on anyone else’s trade name. But you should consider hiring a trademark attorney or at least a trademark search firm before to make sure your new name doesn’t infringe on another business’s trademark.
To illustrate the risk you run if you step on an existing trademark, consider this: You own a new manufacturing business that is about to ship its first orders when an obscure company in Ogunquit, Maine, considers the name of your business an infringement on their trademark. It engages you in a legal battle that bankrupts your business. This could have been avoided if sought out expert help. The extra money you spend now could save you countless hassles and expenses further down the road.
10. Final Analysis
If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with three to five names that pass all your tests. Now, how do you make your final decision?
Recall all your initial criteria. Which name best fits your objectives? Which name most accurately describes the company you have in mind?
Some entrepreneurs arrive at a final decision by going with their gut or by doing consumer research or testing with focus groups to see how the names are perceived. You can doodle an idea of what each name will look like on a sign or on business stationery. Read each name aloud, paying attention to the way it sounds if you foresee radio advertising or telemarketing in your future. Use any or all of these criteria.
Keep in mind that professional naming firms devote anywhere from six weeks to six months to the naming process. You probably won’t have that much time, but plan to spend at least a few weeks on selecting a name.
Once your decision is made, start building your enthusiasm for the new name immediately. Your name is your first step toward building a strong company identity, one that should last as long as you’re in business.
If you need some help with choosing a name for your business, contact the brand agency Liquid Creativity team to learn more.