6 Steps to Successfully Naming Your New Business
Starting a new biz, side hustle or just working for yourself? You might be considering name options for your business and wondering where on earth to begin. Well we've helped our clients with this a few times now, as well as naming our own business, and thought we'd share some tips!
It's really not as complicated as it might seem (or at least, it doesn't need to be) but it can take a lot of time and brainstorming to settle on the right fit. Don't rush it, and you'll get a good feel for the right business name for you!
1. GET TO KNOW YOUR BRAND
As is our process for ALL brand design projects, we begin by exploring the brand identity. We need to get to know the ideal clients, brand persona and values of the business in order to make strategic choices on behalf of it. So, that's our first step!
who your ideal clients are (are you going to be targeting men, women, children? all of them? how old will they be?)
what type of industry you're positioning yourself within
the industry your clients are in, if it's different to your own
the values your business stands behind
the atmosphere or vibe are you hoping to express with your brand
the personality of your brand
any symbology or stories that make your company interesting - consider why you started the business or what inspires you/ the business
2. FIND YOUR KEYWORDS
With all these things covered, you can now pull out some symbology to work with. What you'll need at the end of the day, is a list of keywords with which you can search for interesting words or names. But to get there, we need a base for it. So think about what the business does, how it helps to solve problems, and what the personality of it is, to help you find some symbology to begin searching with. If you get stuck finding any symbology, refer back to the work you've done above and see what stands out - it might be that you have an interesting process or help people in a certain way. Here's an example of that:
Client Case Study
One of our recent clients owns a business consulting agency. She described her role in the business as the problem solver. She identifies problems and shows her clients the best path to take to fix them. She'll initially help to fix the problem, but will also leave the groundwork there for them to use again in the future.
We took the above and pulled out symbology that related to this, including:
puzzle pieces (she takes broken puzzles and puts them back together)
mosaic (for the same symbology as above)
beacon (she creates the best path, and guides them along it, similar to a beacon)
light (because of the beacon - she is the guiding light)
relief (an emotion she wants her clients to feel when they come to her for help)
3. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH
With your list of ideas and symbology, you now have some keywords to use in the hunt for the right name for your business. To actually do the research, we suggest looking for words similar to your keyword, or words that mean something to do with your keyword. Here's where we start:
TOP TIP 1: One of our favourite ways to find company names, is to search for baby names from other cultures that have meaning behind them. This often helps you find words that aren't super obvious and literal to an English speaker (as that's the majority of our clients) and enables you to bring in the symbolism to your company name. We literally Google "baby names that mean..." to find words and names that relate to it.
TOP TIP 2: You can also find unique words in other languages that relate to your chosen symbology. They might not have a literal translation in English, but explore other languages to see what words you can find that feel right.
4. NARROW DOWN YOUR CHOICES
With hours and hours of searching under your belt, you've probably got a lot of name options written down! And of course, you likely have some favourites. So let's start eliminating options to find the right fit.
When going through your list of potential names, we suggest using your ideal clients and brand personality as the filter. What I mean by this, is considering whether the name fits your brand personality, and whether your ideal clients will resonate with it, or like it. This might seem confusing at first hand, but start going through your list and crossing out the words you know won't work. You should have anywhere between 1 and 10 words left.
5. DOUBLE CHECK IF YOUR TOP LIST OF NAMES ARE ACTUALLY AVAILABLE
Practical names are, of course, the best ones! So do some Google searches to see if your top 10 names are actually available. You'll need to see if you can find a domain that works well for your business, if you can get the social media handles, and if the name has been registered in your province (if you're in Canada). Here's where to start:
Search for the domain, and find something similar over on Squarespace's Domain Finder. (You don't need to have the exact name as your domain, but something that includes it, or is similar will work. For instance toothbrush company Quip has the domain getquip.com – plus if you get an annual plan with Squarespace your domain is included for free! So don't buy it separately if you think you might want a Squarespace website)
Check on Instagram and Facebook for similar page names
Look at the BC Business Registry to find out if anyone else has registered the name within BC. We use this search to see what corporations have been registered, so someone else might have the name registered as a partnership or sole proprietor, which might be a factor that stops you from using the name.
TOP TIP: If someone else is using a name similar to yours, or has taken your top choice for domain, look at where they are located and what type of business they have. If they are a direct competitor within your city or province, then that name is likely not a good choice and needs to be crossed off your list. However, if someone has a similar business name but does something totally different to you and lives in a different country, then it's still a viable option!
6. REVIEW YOUR BRAND + KEYWORDS TO FIND THE BEST FIT
By this point you probably lost some of your top names and you can look at your reduced list of names with an even more objective filter. We suggest considering the following things to help you narrow down that list even further:
How does the word sound? Is it short and punchy? Long and flowery?
Does the word have other symbolism that comes to mind. Ask other people what they think of when they hear the word
Is there going to be alliteration with the full company name that could work to your benefit?
Client Case Study
To explain this best, let's look at our client case study again. When researching a company name for our client (using all the symbology listed above) we narrowed down the options to these top 3 words:
Meira; a girls name meaning "light" in Hebrew.
Caia; means to rejoice, which worked well for the feeling of relief our client wanted to create.
Kodi; literally means "someone who is helpful or beneficial" - just like our client and her business!
Here's what we took into consideration with these 3 names:
We knew that the full name would probably be paired with 'Consulting' so anything starting with a C, or even a K would have nice alliteration. It could potentially also be paired with 'Business Development' though, so we didn't want that to be our main focus.
Our client's clients are mainly women, but as business executives the name needed to have some "punch" to it. It needed to not be too soft, but also not be too hard or masculine sounding.
All chosen names are short, creating contrast to the second word in the business name, which would be either 'Consulting' or 'Business Development'
In the end 'Kodi' was too short and hard with the 'd' sound in the middle, while 'Caia' was a little too long and soft sounding with the two 'a's within it. This left 'Meira' as the obvious winner. It works exceptionally well symbolically and also sounds great - being very neutral and professional. So, Meira Consulting it was!
6. IF IN DOUBT, GO WITH YOUR GUT
If you get stuck, go with your gut! Choosing a business name is hard, but it doesn't need to the end of the world. In fact, something simple and to the point is often best. Don't forget to run it by other people to see what they think of it, and include some descriptive words in the name too if you want to.
Starting a business and need support? Check out our full range of blog posts and courses all structured around building a small business here.