You have a great product, an excellent plan, and the startup cash you need to get your idea off the ground. But what the heck are you going to call your business?
Before you settle on “Jeff’s Hardware” or something equally easy, take a moment to think about the power of a name.
The name of your business is often the first impression customers will have of your products, so it’s up to you to make it a good one. Creative business names can range anywhere from an allusion to the type of products you make, a clever play on your favorite quote, or be reminiscent of something industry-specific.
Use these ideas to guide you, and help you avoid common pitfalls when choosing the perfect name for your new small business!
Get Away From Love
Love is what got you into the entrepreneurial game in the first place, and love is what you hope customers will experience when they try your products. But don’t let love blind you to what is essentially a business decision. Instead of just considering what you want, think about what your ideal customer would respond to.
Does your ideal customer find literary jokes amusing? Does he or she enjoy cooking and baking? Whatever you envision your customers being interested in is a good place to start when coming up with creative business names that will resonate with your target audience. Don’t let the naming be all about you – keep your customers front of mind.
This is exactly what local business Dog-Eared Pages Used Books did when coming up with the name for their bookstore. They took the most well-loved element of a used book, the “dog-eared pages,” and turned it into a name that would evoke happiness and nostalgia in their target market’s minds. Brilliant!
Start With the Answer
Your products conceivably provide the answer to a certain question — and this will be helpful for you in coming up with creative business names.
Whether that question is ‘What book should I read next’ or ‘Where can I get handcrafted, industrial art for my man cave?’ or anything else in between, it’s a good place to start when trying to name your business.
Once you have the answer, begin a ‘creative business names’ brainstorming session by employing each of these tactics – the more options you come up with the better!
- Pick a Root: Much of the Latin language provides many of the roots to the words we commonly use today, and can give you a fresh place to start. Did you know that while the word ‘Acura’ is completely made up, the root ‘acu’ means ‘precise’ in many languages? This is a great example of building something new out of something previously established.
- Plays on Common Phrases: Idioms and common phrases that have been in popular culture for the past century are a fun place to start when thinking of how to express what your business does. Some of the most creative business names are those that force us to think about a common phrase in an entirely new way.
- The Simpler the Better: If you are feeling overwhelmed with ideas, or perhaps can’t find a single one you like, look at the very basics of the product you create. For instance, we don’t often find ourselves engaging in conversations about bicycle wheels, but the name ‘Spokes’ for a bicycle shop will surely stick in your mind.
Once you have a few options that you find acceptable, make sure they pass the ‘negative’ tests by going through each these issues to steer clear of.
- Names that only make sense to you – Sure, the name you’ve picked out may be loaded with meaning to you and the origins of your business idea, but will it mean the same thing to outsiders? Tell at least 10 new people your proposed business name, and if more than 5 of them need clarification on what the name means, you need to go in another direction.
- Names that sound like you put no effort in at all – Don’t get lazy when it comes to naming your business. You may be on the verge of burnout after creating the product, securing the funds, and going through every last detail to get things off the ground, but leaving the name of your business to a whim would be a huge mistake.
- Names that employ current trends – Just ask the guy who named his business ‘The Harlem Shake Shack.’ Following current trends is asking for disaster.
- Names that make people think too much – Your cleverness will get lost in a sea of confusion if you try to take it too far.
Make Sure It Works Online and Offline
There are two things to do before settling on a name: make sure a website domain is available, and make sure nothing crazy comes up in searches. Both of these are simple tasks that can be done in less than 5 minutes.
First, type in your ideal website name and see where it takes you. If all is right in the world, it will bring you to a page that says the domain is not found, which means it’s open for you to purchase it. If that’s the case, proceed directly to this handy guide on purchasing a domain name from the Small Business Association.
If, however, it is taken, you then begin the long process of finding a website address that works with your business. It doesn’t always have to be your business name, but should be related to your business in some way. For instance, if you’re the owner of the bicycle shop ‘Spokes’ you may have to settle on ‘downtownbicycles.com’ or something similar. This doesn’t mean you have to change your business name.
Second, do a Google search for your proposed business name and see what comes up. In the very beginning, you most likely will not be able to make the first page of search results on your name alone. But doing this search will give you a good sense of what that particular name brings up online.
Lastly, make sure your business name doesn’t have any other definitions, connotations, or is in any way linked to offensive or questionable material.
Once your name is picked out and ready, and you’ve purchased yourself a new web address, the next step is to create social media profiles for your business on Facebook and Twitter.
And if you don’t have a logo yet, don’t sweat it. Take a fabulous picture of one of your products, and that should work just fine for now. Now, the next time you meet someone new, you can say: Hi, I’m the owner of ______!