Your business name is the cornerstone of your brand. A strong name will help you stick in the mind of potential customers and make you stand out from the competition. You’ve developed your concept, your product or service, your business model, and all of the relevant preparation. All that’s left is figuring out how to name your business. Help is here—we’ve put together some background information as well as tips and tricks to help you name your business.
Your brand name plays a key role in your success. It’s used when people search for your products online and when people talk about your business and its offerings. The right name not only identifies your business—it can make or break your success.
A 2018 study looked into the effect a company name has on its stock performance. Their conclusion? In a highly competitive stock market, a name that is short, fluent, easy to identify, and contains good moral meaning will have more investors, higher per capita shares, and the company will be more valuable.
Your business name should differentiate you from your competitors. If your name is too close to one or more competitors, consumers will probably be confused about who is the provider of the product or service they desire.
A test of brand recognition, brand recall asks customers to think of brand names associated with a specific industry or product category. Your business name needs to be memorable. Learn more about brand recall and brand awareness.
Word-of-mouth advertising is a powerful marketing tool. A great business name that’s memorable and easy to share with others will be talked about and will reap the benefits of all types of referrals—word-of-mouth, online reviews, social sharing, and emails.
Names are powerful, and you likely have a lot riding on yours. There are plenty of websites willing to mix words up for you to produce the “perfect” name. Unfortunately, most of what they deliver is gibberish. Instead, take your time and consider these qualities as you ponder names.
It’s tough to be original. Start with a free flow of ideas—you’ll edit the list later—and go from there. Use a keyword list from your favorite website or SEO tool to inspire you, grab the nearest book and flip through it to find words that “speak” to you, and don’t forget to consider wordplay for a clever option.
Your business name should be clear—you can get creative with spelling, but make sure it’s clear and memorable or your business name will be forgotten.
Make sure your name will resonate as long as your company lasts—hopefully well into the future. Keep in mind that your offerings may expand and change, so don’t lock yourself into a name that won’t work well. Entertainment Weekly magazine never thought they’d go monthly, but they recently did just that—and kept the confusing “weekly” in their name, much to readers’ confusion.
Is the name you’re considering easy to say, spell, and type into a search engine? Your name needs to be easy for your customers to find—or they may just find someone else.
During your naming endeavors, you’ve probably plugged all of your preferred names into a search engine to see if anyone else is using the business name. This includes doing trademark research. Check with the US Patent and Trademark Office to search its trademark database for names similar to yours, names used on related products or services, and if there is a business currently using the name.
In addition to the name being available, you’ll need to look at domains for your website. For SEO and to legitimize your brand, you’ll want to put your business name in your URL. Use GoDaddy or ICANN to find out if yourbusinessname.com is available. If a .com URL isn’t available, you can choose one of the hundred other options (.net, .co, .me, .tv, etc.), but a .com address will give you more authority and bring in more traffic.
If your domain isn’t available, try adding a word before or after your business name, like “go,” “app,” or “get.” This may free up some favorable URLs.Don’t forget to check social media channels to see if your business name is taken. Social handles are easy to change with a word or an underscore if needed.
Use your imagination to use words that evoke feelings and images with your brand name. For example, Last Crumb sells limited batches of luxury cookies. You can imagine wanting to eat every last crumb.
Resonate with your market by playing with words used within your industry. For example blockchain-related businesses Coinbase and CoinDesk.
A few things that will make your brand name memorable are:
Make sure your business name sounds good when spoken aloud. Avoid anything that becomes a tongue-twister when you try to say it.
Now that you know how important it is to have a great business name and what defines a great name, it’s time to look at choosing a business name. And the right place to start is with a little market research. In fact, research is a big part of whole your name-choosing experience, as shown in this graphic.
You may have already performed market research when deciding to build your business. If not, it’s time to get started. There are things you need to know about your name and the market.
Who are your top competitors? What are their names? Keep these front of mind when you’re thinking about yours. You don’t want to be too close, or you could lose business to the competition.
Organic and search engine marketing are probably going to be a big part of your marketing strategy. Find the top-performing keywords for businesses that offer similar products or services like yours. Make sure the keywords are relevant to you and that the average monthly search volume is high enough to attract attention.
SEO may not be a huge factor in your actual naming process, but if you can fit a keyword naturally into your business name, go for it.
Ask your potential customers how they view your competitors’ names. What they like or dislike about them will give you some initial direction. For example, they may feel a name sounds cheesy, is too short, or sounds too much like something else. This gives you a jumping-off point for your naming.
Go ahead—brainstorm! List out every idea. Work with your team or other stakeholders to think of names. Write them all down. You will probably generate a pretty big list, and that’s fine. You want to start with as many names as you can think of. And yes, you can use one of those business name generators to help you get started.
Take a break. Walk away from your list for a little while. When you return to it, expand on it. Consider what kind of tone you want, what words resonate with you, and what brand ethos you want to portray. Let your creative juices run wild now because soon enough it will be time to narrow down your choices.
Come up with your evaluation criteria and go through your list. Your criteria should include:
Now that you’ve narrowed down your business name choices, it’s time to do a little more research to find which name your target customers respond to.
SurveyMonkey has multiple market research solutions, including brand name analysis. You can present your target audience with your narrowed list of business names and ask for feedback on each one. Compare them on a variety of metrics, like appeal, effectiveness, and relevance. While you’re at it, you can also do concept testing for your product offerings to make sure they fit in with your brand vision and name.
Use audience feedback to make changes or tweaks. For example, the audience liked Name 2, but you prefer Name 4. The respondent's feedback was that Name 4 was more difficult to say. Use that feedback to improve the spelling and enunciation and test again.
It’s time to review your research results. Look at all of your data—SurveyMonkey shows the results of open-ended questions in a word cloud so you can determine key takeaways. A Top 2 Box score approach to combine positive responses to each question into a single percentage may make analysis easier. And just like that, your business has a name.
We’ve talked about an overall strategy for choosing a business name, and now it’s time for some practical tips.
You can probably think of several companies that use acronyms for their business names. If your business is complex, an easy-to-remember acronym might be a good choice.
Take 2 or 3 meaningful words that represent your business and combine them.
Is there a mythological figure that’s relevant to your business? Maybe it’s time for a little research because this naming strategy seems to work out well for those that use it.
You can go with foreign words if you want, just be sure they don’t mean something unintended. Do your research and use Google translate.
Chipotle is derived from the Nahuatl word for a smoke-dried jalapeño. Sounds like a perfect match for a Mexican restaurant.
It’s your business, if you feel it’s appropriate and you like it, use your name in the business name.
Spin the globe and see if anything inspires you. There are some amazing, beautiful names across the world.
Do you or one of your family members have a great nickname? That might make a good business name!
Draw inspiration from a symbol or element of your business.
Some company names use descriptive words that literally tell you something about them.
Businesses with long names will often use either an acronym or abbreviation to make the name easier for customers to remember.
Not everyone finds that sweet spot for their business name. When choosing your company’s name, try to avoid these common mistakes.
While creative spelling may seem like a good idea, names like Flickr and Tumblr will always be victims of autocorrect.
Roofing Rochester NY may come up first in organic search results with that name, but what if they expand into other types of home improvements or decide to work in a wider service area?
Make sure you’re thorough in your research. Just because a name is used doesn’t mean you can’t pursue it, but take a beat and think it through. Dove soap and Dove chocolate, Delta faucets and Delta airlines, and Domino’s Pizza and Domino Sugar have made it work, but we’d advise against it.
It’s tempting to follow in the footsteps of Häagen-Daz and Etsy, using words that aren’t really words. The names are catchy but don’t convey anything about the businesses or their offerings. If you can come up with something that has a connection to your vision or business offerings, you’ll be better off.
It isn’t easy to choose a business name, but if you follow our advice, it will be a little bit easier. Whatever you do, don’t skip the research steps. They are critical to ensuring you land on the right name. SurveyMonkey has everything you need to perform the necessary market research for your business naming process. And you’ll find our brand name analysis tool is quite valuable as you narrow down your choices.