Creating your business name can be a daunting endeavor. Its a big deal! This is what you are going to be using as the foundation of your branding. It requires commitment, and who isn’t a little afraid of that? Your business name is something you want to be proud of.
Really, creating a business name is a lot like getting married to words. For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, you and that name are gonna be together FOR LIFE.
But, hey, you’ve gotta do this before you can get anything else done. So, instead of jumping the gun, let’s start dating words and see if we can’t find you a charmer, alright?
Step One: Set Up Your Business Name Dating Profile
So just like dating, you gotta put yourself out there first. There are a few key pieces of information you are going to need to get yourself on all those cute new apps the kids are using these days. Let’s break it down:
Choose Your Dating App – Define Who Your Clients Are
To find the perfect business name partner, your going to have to start with where you are looking for them. This starts with figuring out who your clients are. What industry are they in? What kind of income do they have? What do they need from you? The more specific you are in this area – the better. For help with this check out my Buyer Persona Workbook.
Fill In Your Profile – Define the Elements of Your Brand
Now that you know where you are looking, you are going to want to put yourself out there and start mingling! The more authentic and honest you are, they better chances you are going to find someone that is compatible. So this is going to take some thinking. Here’s where branding elements come in. Take the time to define who you are as a company. Why you are in business? What is your story? What sets you apart from everyone else? What values do you have? What is your long term vision? For more information on this check out my article on Powerful Brands.
Step Two: Define What You Want and Need
Before you get all crazy and just start dating anyone you are going to want to have an idea of what you are looking for. Otherwise you are wasting everyone’s time, right? So here’s a few steps to pick your type:
Decide on Your Must Haves: The General Components of a Business Name
There are certain things you MUST have in a partner – honesty, fun, humor, whatever. The same goes for a business name. The general formula is:
WHO YOU ARE + WHAT YOU DO
There’s a lot of wiggle room in this basic formula, just like there’s going to be a lot of variety in the folks you might see. But your must haves will stay the same. Stick to this formula.
Decide on Your Type: Breaking Down Who You Are
It’s a good idea to know the general idea of what you are going for. Do you like the fun type? Always a good time, but they aren’t always good to you. Do you want the responsible type? You can rely on them but they can be a bit boring. Do you want the successful type? They will take care of you but might not have as much time to spend with you as you like. The point here is – there are advantages and disadvantages to types. They help you narrow in on what you want, but you have to go in eyes wide open – no one is perfect. Here’s a few “types” of names:
The Traditionalist: Your Name
Just use your name. Straight up – simple, to the point. Doesn’t get much easier than this one.
- Benefit: It’s fast, simple, clearly expresses who you are
- Disadvantage: Might make it hard to expand, your name may or may not be unique enough, people have to know YOU to pick up on your vibe.
The Nice Guy/Girl Next Door: Values
Use the values you hold dear to define you. Integrity, honor, valor, etc.
- Benefit: Easily defines who you are and what is important to you. Gives your clients the tone of what your product or service entails.
- Disadvantage: May not be unique enough, may not totally convey the idea of what sets you apart.
The Confident One: Qualities
Use the qualities that set you apart – speed, quality, detail, etc.
- Benefit: Your competitive edge is right there in the name. Clients will know why they want to use you.
- Disadvantage: Can come off as cheesy, outdated, forced, or common.
The Unique One: Make it Up
Just make up your own damn word – Google, Xyle, Zappos, etc.
- Advantage: You sure will stand out and be memorable
- Disadvantage: It’s hard to communicate value with something no one has ever heard of, hard to build recognition, may be hard to spell or pronounce.
The Mysterious One: Abbreviations
Too many words you wanna get in there? Break it down to letters.
- Benefit: Easy to spell! Domain names are easier to put together and it’s short and sweet.
- Disadvantage: People might not take the time to find out what your abbreviation stands for and can miss out on your message. Letters may sound to similar – B,C,D,E,G,P,T,V,Z all sound a lot alike…
The Poet: Adjective + Noun
Want to really get a message across? Use TWO words. Black Forest, Smart Cookie, etc
- Benefit: Super Unique, gives the ability to create a clear vibe
- Disadvantage: Now you are adding words – this can be tough to do well.
The Spiritual One: Use a Symbol
Using a symbol can mean a lot of things. This could be a deity, an animal totem, an archetype, whatever. The purpose is that it has meaning. Nike and Starbucks are good examples.
- Benefit: Usually unique and has a story (yay stories) behind it
- Disadvantage: People might have no idea what you are talking about or it might be hard to spell or pronounce
Find Your Love Language: Breaking Down What You Do
Types are great and all, but even if you match with someone that is your “type” they might not give you what you need. So, don’t forget the bread and butter. Until you are a mega giant brand that everyone knows you should probably mention what it is that you do. The good news is you still have a few options here – so its a good idea to grab a collection of words you can use.
Ways to Describe What You Do:
- Your Industry
- Your Market
- Your Product
- Your Service
Step Three: Start Matching
Alright so now that we know what we are looking for, and where we are going to look it’s time to get out there and check the chemistry.
Compile Your Possible Matches: Write Your Lists
Now that you’ve got your framework – you know your type, your love language, and what you want and need – it’s time to shop. Don’t be getting married to your first idea here, wait until you find true love. The way to do that? Get a ton of words put together
- Write down all the words that come to mind under the framework you’ve decided on
- Use a thesaurus to find similar words to all those words
- Use one column for who you are, and another column for what you do.
- Don’t judge, just brain dump, we aren’t at the “judgey” stage yet. Get to know your dates first!
Use a Matchmaker: Business Name Generators
Sometimes an outside point of view is nice, and can see more than you can. Ever notice its easier to give advice than take it? Same thought process. There are a lot of business name generators out there that are free and will help you combine words that might work together based on algorithms. Some generators include:
- Anadea Business Name Generator – use keywords and your industry to get some combos goin’.
- BizNameWiz – enter a few keywords and name combos and available domain name suggestions populate like magic.
- Shopify Business Name Generator – puts together combinations of keywords based solely on possible domain names.
Step Four: Start Dating in Person
Here’s where you check out whether or not this thing is going to work or not. Now that we have a TON of words put together, its time to put things to the test.
- Do you like this person? Chose your favorite combos.
- Can you understand this person? Make sure your name is short, easy to spell, and easy to pronounce.
- Can you grow with them? Don’t lock yourself into a name that has the city or state you are in – unless you WANT to stay small. It limits your growth.
- Can you trust this person? Don’t use cliches – it can kill rapport.
- Can you take them seriously? Funny names are great, until they aren’t. Try not to make yourself a joke.
- Do they make you happy? Make sure your name has a positive connotation.
- Do they have any secret issues? Check for accidental associations you might not think of. For instance – Elf Arts Christmas Decorations might end up being www.elfarts.com. Don’t be an El Fart.
Step Five: Get Serious
By this time you’ve narrowed down your list to hopefully 3-5 combos you like. Now it’s time to look into a serious future together.
Are They Already Married? Check Availability FIRST
Nothing would be worse than to find the love of your life and realize… um… well… they have another person. Check first before you tell your friends and family
- Check Domain Availability: make sure you can make a website that resembles your name in some form or another. No one wants to be the .biz of anything, people.
- Check the US Patent and Trademark Office – you may want to trademark your name later so make sure you have the option
- Check the Secretary of State Office – you are going to want to register as a business so make sure someone hasn’t beaten you there. Otherwise you’ll have to be a DBA. Lame.
Step 6: Tie That Sucker Down! Register Your Name
Don’t let your name be the one that got away. Better make it official. Buy the domain, register the business, even trademark if you are up to it.
Congratulations, you may kiss the… business name.