December 8, 2009 | Branding
Today’s post is written by Caitlin Randolph of Brand Bucket. Brand Bucket specializes in naming and domain name registration so that new businesses can launch with a truly brandable name.
Branding is the construction of an identity. It’s a continual process, but the foundation of every brand is the name. Here are some tips on how to pick a great name that will be a solid foundation for your startup to stand on.
Know your business expectations and goals
Planning ahead gives you a competitive edge in naming. To sketch up a blueprint of your new business name, start by asking yourself a series of questions:
- What do you want to say about your business? What do you want your business name to say about you?
The right name defines your business for your customers right when they hear it. Make a list of the traits that you want your name to portray, like “solid”, “performance”, or “fast”. You may end up using these exact words as part of the name, or the name may just give an indication or feeling of these traits.
- Where can you see your business expanding in the future?
Knowing what you want out of your business and being aware of what your startup could develop into allows you to select a name that you can grow with, so you can avoid the hassle of a future rebrand. Take for example CompUSA and BestBuy – both stores now sell more than computers, but CompUSA will have to work harder to advertise that fact since their name is restrictive.
- What are your favorite brand names (regardless of industry)?
If your answer includes brands like Nike, Kleenex, and Google you are more likely interested in creative names that do not define or describe the business but rather utilize memorable linguistic techniques to create a unique brand. If your answer includes brands such as Travelocity, Wikipedia, and Model Dairy, you like a brand name that uses an industry keyword to describe and define a business.
Brainstorm, pick your favorites, then do your research
Once you pinpoint the type of business name you’re interested in, begin making a list of potential names. Schedule more than one brainstorming session, and try to write down at least 50 options. Sometimes the best names are the last ones that we think of! As you narrow the list, find out if the domain name is available (an easy search tool for available domain names is www.brandgopher.com). The .com is the strongest choice since most people will assume that your web address is [your name].com, but .net and .org are still credible extensions. As the internet becomes more of an asset your web address becomes more important than your physical address, and if possible you want the .com to match your business name.
Test your name before you settle
Giving your name a thorough inspection will give you the confidence to rely on it. Test the name you have chosen for memorability. Say it out loud and write it down quickly, and ask your friends to do the same. Is it easy to understand over the phone? Test various versions of your name to see which version sticks best. Is it more memorable with the ‘i’ ‘y’ or ‘a’ on the end? These details may seem minuscule but this is key to how your clients will view and retain your business name. If you can’t remember it, say it, or spell then it is not the name for you. Pay attention to how people tend to spell your business name, not how the dictionary spells it. For example, google.com was an intentional misspelling of “googol”. Names like flickr.com and tumblr.com may seem strange, but they can be explained quickly (“flicker without the ‘e'”). When saying the name and thinking about the name what does it make you and other people think of? When evaluating your potential business names, keep track of the pros and cons of each with a spreadsheet or domain name evaluator tool.
Choosing a business name is the first big step in building a brand so take your time and don’t forget to ask for advice!
BrandBucket (www.brandbucket.com) is an online self-serve branding company providing brandable business names for entrepreneurs, startups, creatives, and small businesses. We are experts at brainstorming and identifying clever brands across many industries, for large corporations as well as for personal endeavors. We focus on acquiring high-value and uncommon domains that have usually been overlooked, so we often hear from our clients and friends: “Why didn’t I find that great name?” BrandBucket is the starting point for a pre-packaged brand including the logo and the dot com domain name. You can think of us as the designers behind the next great brand name like Google and Nike. We invent our names using linguistic techniques, not a name generating software, which in turn makes our names truly brand-worthy.