You’ve identified a need in the market, a product or service to fulfill it, a business plan to guide you and a team to make it all happen. You have everything you need for success — except a name for your startup. A business name should be memorable, descriptive and unique, which can be a challenging set of criteria to fill at once.
The members of Ad Age Collective know the importance of a brand name, as well as how to come up with a great one. Below, eight of them share their best advice for testing and choosing names for your company, product or service.
1. Test ideas with your audience.
There are so many factors to naming, such as inspiration, branding, legal and more. The real hurdle to get over is subjectivity. Years of experience can cause bias. Fresh ideas won’t reflect historical cycles. From the list, select your top picks and test them with your audience. Aren’t they the ones who matter at the end of the day? Use their insights to cut out consensus and inspire great work. – Nicole Oliha, City National Bank
2. Create mock-ups.
Creating design mock-ups of your products with the potential brand name can be very impactful. It will make your name more real. You can also print out content with your name and possible logo to get a feel for it. Then, when you’ve spent some time with it, you can get a sense of whether your name will work in the long run. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
3. Brainstorm as much as possible.
It’s a volume play to find the needle in a huge haystack of established businesses, existing trademarks and purchased URLs. Brainstorm like a mad person. Scribble everything down without editing yourself. Make up words like a modern-day Shakespeare. With hundreds of options on the wall, you can begin to narrow down the list based on the names that both reflect the brand positioning and are currently available. – Chad Robley, Mindgruve
4. Explain what your product is.
If you’re launching a complicated product to market with a limited budget, sometimes choosing a descriptive name can be helpful. A descriptive name does some of the heavy lifting on the marketing side. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
6. Reflect your passion and excitement with a story.
Names can be literal or creative. It is up to you to build it over time. It must reflect your passion and excitement, and you must have a story to tell. My daughter came up with the name of our business, ZenMango. Her logic was “zen” is a position of wisdom and rhymes with our last name, “Sen,” and “mango” is the world’s fastest-growing fruit and allows us to migrate current brand colors. When asked about our company name, I love telling the story with pride. – Arjun Sen, ZenMango
7. Make sure the name is available.
The mistake many business owners make is thinking that the name matters. What matters far more with a name is if you can claim the appropriate digital assets. Running a Google search along with a social media check for the availability for your particular name is crucial as you begin to market your business. Don’t stress on the name itself; make sure you can claim your digital real estate first. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
5. Weigh descriptive names against generic.
Begin by deciding if you want to choose a descriptive name, like “Precision Tools,” or a generic name like “Amazon.” Descriptive names are often helpful early on because they require less explanation, but they can be confining if you think your business will grow into new areas over time. Some names like Netflix are abstracted enough to provide a bit of latitude in both directions. – Dan Beltramo, Onclusive (formerly AirPR)
8. Ensure it doesn’t feel ‘wrong.’
Don’t get hung up on finding the perfect name, because rarely does any name feel totally right at first. However, it is critical that you make sure it isn’t wrong. Always confirm that it is culturally sensitive, isn’t confusing, is available and so on. People often mistake that a name is a brand, but the company, culture and behaviors will create the power behind the name and make it “right.” – Reid Carr, Red Door Interactive