Many first-time entrepreneurs struggle with finding the right name for their new business venture, even when they have a brilliant business idea. After all, the name is the first thing their customers will see.
The right name for an entrepreneurial venture can impact its success significantly — it conveys to the customers as well as potential investors the essence of a brand, cultivates a positive emotional connection with them and communicates to them how to perceive the new company. It also plays a massive role in marketing and branding efforts. Whereas, the wrong name can lead to several business and legal obstacles.
Consider this five-step strategy for coming up with a powerful and effective name for your new startup:
Step 1: Identify your brand’s essence:
The first step when naming your new business is to define who you are and what you are trying to achieve. In order to do this, try to answer the following questions:
- Why does your business exist?
- Do you have a long-term vision for your company?
- What is the mission statement?
- How do you plan to achieve your long-term goals?
- What are the values that guide you?
Step 2: Establish your differentiators:
One effective method of choosing a good name for your business is defining what makes your brand unique. While your company’s essence is a part of what makes it unique, there are several other things about your entrepreneurial venture that can make it stand out.
Step 3: Brainstorm:
Involve your creatives as well as stakeholders. Provide them with a set of guidelines and restrictions to work with in order to develop the most effective and innovative business name. The guidelines can be in the form of features that describe your product and/or service, how you want your customers to feel when they use it and so on.
Some other varieties of brand names are acronyms (like GE, LG or DKNY), made-up words (like Xerox) and those based on a person (such as Betty Crocker or Ben & Jerry’s).
Step 4: Look into the name’s availability and legality:
Once you have about 25 to 30 options for your brand, search the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO’s) database of registered trademarks. Once you find a name that seems to be available, get an attorney or lawyer to thoroughly vet and protect it. A trademark typically protects logos and brand names used on goods and services.
Step 5: Test your business name:
Now is the time to test your chosen names. You can do this by building mockups like homepages or landing pages for all shortlisted names, logos, packaging and so on.
Run a distinctly targeted ad on several social media networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter, for, say, 10 days, to see which page gets the most hits in terms of visitors and conversions.
Other best practices
Here are nine other helpful tips on how you can come up with a solid name for your business:
- Stay away from names that are hard to spell or pronounce.
- Try and obtain the “.com” domain name for your business, instead of such domain extensions as “.org,” “.net” or “.biz.” Most people associate a “.com” page with a more established company. A domain name can have a great impact on your online visibility as well as your marketing efforts.
- Never choose a name that may cause problems down the road or limit your business as it grows.
- Conduct a thorough internet search to check if the name is taken, even if it’s not trademarked.
- Avoid a name that is too complicated, vague or generic, or even too meaningful. Keep it simple.
- Do not copy your competitors. This not only makes you look unoriginal, it can also confuse your customers and investors.
- Unless you are a well-known person, avoid using your own name. The owner’s name does not tell anything about the business. It may also cause issues if you want to sell your firm in the future. Also, skip names of places if you want your company to grow beyond your region.
- Opt for a scalable as well as expansive name.
- Check what the chosen name means in other languages.
Note that a business name is only the first step toward building a business. And while it may give a good first impression, how you deal with customer expectations will ultimately bring success to your startup.