How to Come up with the Right Name for Your Small Business


It’s easy to think that naming a new product, service, or business simply involves brainstorming ideas, testing the ideas out on some people, and choosing a name.

But to do it right, it’s more involved than that.

Here are three things to keep in mind when naming new products or services.

1. Does it quickly communicate what the product or service is?

Unless you can pour thousands of dollars into developing and marketing an abstract name (e.g., Google), it makes more sense to come up with a name that communicates what the product or service is. Here are two examples: PayPal and OkCupid.

They’re effective because you immediately get a sense of what each one is about. They’re also effective because they’re short and punchy and also alliterative.

2. Does it have “unintended” meanings (think slang)?

This is something you need to be sensitive to. You might come up with a name that seems perfectly benign and unbeknownst to you, either the full name or part of the name might be considered slang. A good place to do searches on any words that you’re considering is the Urban Dictionary

Another thing to be aware of: is part of the name too close to sounding like another product, or could the name be the source of jokes?

3. Is it already in use and/or has it been trademarked?

You’ve come up with a name that’s just perfect, and so you go with it. Wait! It’s not that simple. You need to see if the name is already “out there.” And if it is “out there,” you need to understand how it’s being used.

Start with a Google search and put the name in quotation marks so you call up exact matches.

That will give you a basic sense of whether you’ve found a viable name. But don’t stop there. You should also run the name through the Trademark database.

When in doubt about anything, consider consulting an attorney (and please note that nothing about this blog post should be construed as legal advice).

So, how do you come up with a name?

Consider outsourcing to a person or firm who specializes in naming and verbal branding. It’s an investment, but it could save your business time and money in the long run (a failed brand name will hurt your company over the long term).

If you need to handle the naming in-house, here’s a basic blueprint of how to proceed:

  • Analyze the market: Make sure you’re up to speed on all the names your competitors are using. See what people are talking about within your industry. A great place to get some real-time and free insights is on Quora or Reddit.
  • Consider all the features and benefits of your product and service. Make lists. Include every detail. Make sure everyone who’s involved in the naming process has a thorough understanding of the product/service.
  • Understand the intended audience for this specific product/service. Create some buyer personas around the product or service: why would these folks need it? What pain points are you addressing? What might their objections be?
  • Brainstorm a list of the “feelings” and emotions you want this name to communicate to your audience: helpful, safety, peace of mind, fun, etc.
  • Start brainstorming names. In this initial list, don’t censor yourself. Just get names down. Namify is a great place to generate some name ideas. It uses AI to help you find ideas you’d never have thought of!
  • Be ruthless in cutting down the list from there. You need to let go of names that don’t make sense, even if you’ve fallen in love with them for some reason (e.g. it’s clever).
  • Once you get a working list of names, this is when you should run them through Google and Trademark Database (see point #3 above) to see what’s available. Check if your name is available as a domain name. Here’s how to register one.
  • Test the names. Ideally, you’d want to use focus groups. However, an informal group of employees and customers can also provide insight. The testing phase should help you narrow the list down even further.
  • Consider and choose. As you’re going over your final list, some things to consider include the coolness factor, the legacy factor (do you think this name has staying power), and the creative factor (meaning, how well will this name work in layout, as a logo, and so forth).

While coming up with a catchy name might seem simple, choosing the right one takes careful consideration. A great product or service name should clearly convey its purpose, avoid unintended associations, and be unique to stand out in the market.

Image by Moondance from Pixabay.

Image: Depositphotos






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