Naming a business is one of those things that sounds easy but, once you sit down to do it, quickly feels impossible. Like solving a Sudoku puzzle or trying to make sense of your health insurance policy.
Sure, some get lucky, and a brilliant name magically pops into their head. Others just settle for using some version of their own name.
But for the rest of the entrepreneurial world, they seek to craft a name that’s unique, yet familiar. Something that ties to what their business does without being overly blatant.
Or just something you think is really cute and clever.
While I can’t tell you what to name your business, I can give some advice on what to be cautious of.
Letting Someone Else Tell You What to Do
Getting feedback, ideas, and suggestions from a few trusted friends or employees is all well and good. One of them might even suggest a name that you love and run with.
But no matter what happens, it should be a name that you love.
You will likely use, say, and see your business name more than anyone else. It’s important that it’s a name you are confident about. That’s one reason why you should limit the amount of people you involve in naming the business.
Keep the process simplified.
Because there are now more startups, apps, and products popping up than ever, the naming market has become a little crammed. This has led to many entrepreneurs adding certain buzz-modifiers to their name. Things like adding “-ify”, “z”, or “-ly” to the end or “zen” to the beginning of another word.
Not only can this be tacky, but it makes it harder for people to distinguish your business from others when they all kind of sound the same.
Thanks to spellcheck and autocorrect, most people aren’t particularly great at spelling words these days. If you pick a word that’s difficult to spell correctly, even if it’s your own name, you could have potential customers struggling to find your business.
A great business name can be remembered easily and spelled efficiently while still remaining unique. I know, it’s not the easiest thing in the world.
Some advise against purposely misspelling a word to make it unique, though it’s something that can work in your favor. For example, Qwest (now Century Link) did quite well by simply choosing a phonetic spelling of a word that everyone knows.
It’s easy to tell someone “We’re Qwest with a ‘w’”.
Thinking It has to Be Forever
A business name is not a wedding vow. You are not tied to it until you and/or the business dies. While changing your business name down the road is a big ordeal that will probably cost some time, money, and effort, it’s not an impossibility.
Many famous businesses have successfully changed their names over the years. Some startups even change their name within a year or so of launching, quickly realizing the name they thought was brilliant wasn’t so great.
For example, there’s a company called Mistbox that creates smart devices designed to cool residential AC units with sprays of mist. When it first launched and successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign, it was called The Mister.
While the name makes sense, the company was quick to realize how difficult it would be to show up in searches for “mister”. So they changed to Mistbox, and the rest is history.
Settling for Less
That said, it’s best to get it right the first time around. Don’t take the first thing that comes along and decide, “that’s it” just because you don’t want to spend any more time on it. Try to get it right the first time. Take a little time. Once you get the name set, the rest of the business just takes care of itself, right?
Well, not exactly. But I can help with that. To learn more about the art of creating a business, checkout my book Business is Art, available now.