You’ve probably experienced a time (maybe even in the now!) where you have a super-duper-oh-so-fantastic Business idea that you know is going to take off and change the world, but you have absolutely no clue what to call the business.
And, you may also have had a moment (maybe a few over the years) when an unbelievably amazing can’t-stop-thinking-about-it name pops into your head and you think “WOW, this would be the coolest business name E.V.E.R.” but you don’t have the business idea to accompany it.
That’s Murphy’s Law!
Somehow timing doesn’t always seem to be on our side when it comes to combining that awesome business idea with a name that does it justice.
But, sometimes “bad timing” is actually a blessing in disguise…
DISCLAIMER: I’m about to ruin all the fun!
Business names should be strategic and well thought out, not random results of daydreaming (and I don’t pretend to be guilt-free of that!).
Your business name is what people will know your business as.
It needs to be appropriate to your product or service, industry and Target Audience, and (best case scenario) it should be simple enough to remember and catchy enough that your customers can’t get it out of their head!
First things first, let’s get clear on what we are and what we’re not talking about when we’re brainstorming business names…
Contrary to popular believe, your customer-facing business name does not have to be the same as your Legal Business Name.
Your customer-facing business name (or Trade Name) is what your business is known as to the public.
Your Legal Business Name is what your business is legally called. (This is what we’re not talking about in this particular post).
That little term “legal” makes all the difference. (If you’d like to know more nitty-gritty details about Legal Business Names, click HERE.)
Now that we’ve touched on the dry legal matters, let’s start the fun…
9 Steps to an AWESOME Business Name
STEP 1: Zoom In On Your Product/Service
To choose an awesome business name, you must be crystal clear on the following:
- Your Industry
- Your Product or Service
- Your Target Audience
Start by reflecting on those three essentials and then begin the journey to business name excellence!
First things first…
Your business name should be in-keeping with the industry, product and service within which your business falls.
The good thing is, that dramatically reduces the number of options that make sense for you to name your business…and at square one when our options are endless, the process of elimination is helpful.
For example, you probably wouldn’t have “trucking” in your business name if you have a Massage Spa. Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little…but you get the idea!
HOT TIP: Having an industry, product or service keyword in your Business Name is very helpful for SEO purposes. Targeting works. So, if you have a Massage Spa, using the word “massage” or “spa” or even “relaxation”, “wellness” and so on, in your business name won’t hurt.
Your business name should be appropriate to your product or service.
You can continue the helpful process of elimination by narrowing down to what’s appropriate to the product or service that your business offers.
For example, it would be out-of-place to mention “recycled” or “sustainable” in your business name if you business is not concerning itself with the environment (but I hope you’re at least a little concerned…)
Another HOT TIP: Search engines reward relevancy. By having a Name and content that aligns with your business offerings, you’ll rank better in organic search results.
Your business name should be appropriate to your Target Audience.
It’s not only critical to choose a name that’s in-keeping and appropriate, but also one that’s acceptable and relatable to your Target Audience.
For example, if you’re promoting peace through non-violence, it would probably throw off your Target Audience to have “guns” or “knives” in your business name. (Also an extreme example…but often exaggeration aids clarification).
STEP 2: Scan Your Competition
To choose a business name that’s unique and appropriate, you need to know what your competition is using.
If you haven’t yet identified your competition, spend a little time with our good friend Google and search for products or services just like what you are (or will be) offering.
Jot down the business names you find in your competitive scan and use them as a reference (for what to do, or what not to do) when you get to STEP 6.
STEP 3: Find Your Inspiration
Now that you’ve done the heavy lifting, deep digging, defining and analyzing, we’re ready to have some real fun.
Kick off your shoes, draw a bath, watch the sunset, or put on some music – whatever it takes to find your Zen – and let you imagination run free.
Once you’re in a fantastic and creative state of mind, let’s continue…
STEP 4: Consider That Which Means Most
It’s time to go deep!
- What is the real reason (not money) that you started your business?
- What do you want to offer the world?
- What is your true motivation?
- What makes your business unique?
By getting to the core of why you do what you do, you could well uncover something that’s a) unique to your business and b) an excellent trigger for your business name.
For example, I began my business because I want to empower people to create a life of their dreams, and I believe that to do so one has to brand and market your business in a way that generates so much desire for your product or service that it ultimately sells itself (aka ‘Create-The-Dream’ for your customers). That’s how my business name was born: Create-The-Dream.
Take some time to uncover what means most to you and make notes of those thoughts, we’ll come back to them.
STEP 5: Consult Your Dictionary, Your Thesaurus and Your Toolbox
Sometimes thinking too hard about something jolts the flow of creativity, and that’s when dictionaries, thesauruses and digital toolboxes come in handy.
Luckily all three are available online (though I do confess to paging through my old thesaurus fairly regularly).
Here’s a head start of great sites to visit for inspiration, ideas and double checking:
- Dictionary.com – an easy to use online dictionary and thesaurus option that even provides detail on the origin of words.
- UrbanDictionary.com – a totally hilarious, entirely made up dictionary meant to make you laugh (sometimes laughter is the best inspiration!)
- Shopify.com Business Name Generator – a simple site that let’s you type in a keyword and then returns a list of available domain names that include that specific keyword. That way you cross off two tasks at once: 1. Finding a Business Name, and 2. Ensuring that domain name is available for your business website.
- YourBrand.com – a “Naming and Branding Solutions” site that returns available business names and logos for purchase based on a keyword you enter or a category you choose. (Purchasing a business name with a pre-made logo can certainly speed up the start-up process, and it’s a great tool for inspiration, but I still recommend going through the process from scratch and picking a name that’s unique to you and then later having a logo developed that’s equally meaningful).
- There are a handful of similar tools available online that I’ve added to my FREE Resources page. You can access them in one click HERE.
Give yourself permission to browse around and take note of words that jump off the screen (or page!) and shout at you: “me, me, pick me!” Okay, not literally…but find those words that speak to why you’re in business.
STEP 6: Jot Down Your Ideas
In times of inspiration, those sudden sparks of genius are too often lost unless we write them down. So grab a pen and paper or type away and make notes of what you’re thinking.
Bullet points are great!
Keep writing…and let your business name ideas flow until you have a number of options to review in further detail.
Then think long and hard about every word you wrote down and whether it’s in keeping with all we covered in Step 1, if it represents your business well, and that it isn’t the same or too similar to a competitor’s name that you noted in Step 2.
Strike out all the words that don’t fit perfectly.
Highlight the words that you love the most.
STEP 7: Consider Emotions
Once you have a handful of ideas highlighted on your list, consider them from a standpoint of emotion.
I’m not implying that your business name should make you weep, but I do believe that great business names should invoke emotion.
Go back and revisit each highlighted word and really think about them.
- What is the first thing that each word makes you think of?
- How does each word sound spoken out loud?
- How does each word make you feel?
- What descriptions do each word invoke?
Based on those answers, narrow down your highlighted words to a few that align best with why you’re in business.
STEP 8: Form Irresistible Combinations (or skip this step)
You may like the idea of a one-word business name. That’s wonderful if you do – they are increasingly popular these days and can be very easy to remember (which is always a plus). If that’s your preference and you have your one-word picked out already, go ahead and move straight to Step 9.
If you prefer the double-barrel name approach to business names, that’s great too. (It’s easier to sneak in keywords for SEO purposes with more than one word in your business name). Stick with me and we’ll work on pairing words to form irresistible combinations.
Using the few highlighted words you narrowed your list down to in the step above, do the following:
- Enter the words one at a time into Shopify.com Business Name Generator and see what name combinations return for you. (Remember, these domains are also available, which is a great thing to know!)
- Enter the words one at a time into WordTracker.com and see what the top search combinations are that include that keyword. (Search combinations are phrases people are typing into search engines, like Google, when they are trying to find search results based on a keyword. Note: you can only perform a limited number of searches within a 24-hour period with the free version…but your list of highlighted words shouldn’t be that long anyway…)
- Consider pairing some of the words you have highlighted.
- If some of the words you have highlighted are descriptive words, consider pairing them with an industry keyword (such as “massage,” if that’s what your business offers).
- If some of the words you have highlighted are keywords, consider pairing them with descriptive words (and that’s when a thesaurus comes in very handy!)
Once you have pairing ideas, play with them until you believe that you have an irresistible business name combination.
It’s important to get your own ducks in a row before you ask for opinions…
STEP 9: Ask For Advice
Last but not least, ask for advice.
(DISCLAIMER: ask for advice from supportive but objective people).
Try to share your business name with at least 5 people and ask them what they think of the name, if they think they’d remember it and what it makes them think and feel.
If the majority of people give you answers that align with what you wanted your business name to make people think and feel then it’s time to celebrate – buy the domain – and call it a day.
If the majority of people give you answers that differ from what you intended or want people to think and feel about your business name, don’t despair – that’s normal on round one and this article is free! – so go back to the top and begin the process again, taking the advice you learnt and applying it to round two.
Learn More about the difference between a Legal Business Name and Trade Name HERE.
Access FREE Resources, including a range of Business Name Generator tools, HERE.
Create-The-Dream Community Insights
Did you discover something unique about your business values in the process of choosing your business name? I’d love to hear your discoveries in the comments section below!