Naming a business should be emotional. And logical.
There are many ways to set about naming a business: coming up with ideas yourself or brainstorming with friends; using online name generators; commissioning a branding agency; or browsing through lists of brandable domain names like you’ll find here at Novanym.
However you go about getting ideas, the chances are you’ll end up with a short-list, or maybe a long-list of names to choose from. So how do you go about choosing the right name from a list of options?
By employing the right mix of gut feel and rational thinking, that’s how.
And it's important to recognise that you need just the right amount of both.
Good business names need emotion
Focusing on how a name ‘feels’ might sound cod-spiritual, but it’s vital if you’re looking to build a brand.
Names that evoke certain feelings tend to make ‘connections’ with people. If people feel something when they see or hear a name, they’re more likely to remember it.
For example, the name KidsPlayWorld would be an accurate description of a play centre. As a name it’s logical, but lacks any emotional triggers. Alternatively, the name Kingaru creates an image of bouncy energy, and it feels like a lot of fun.
At the other end of the business spectrum, a financial adviser called Apex Financial Solutions sounds perfectly sensible, and just the sort of thing thousands (and thousands) of advisers are called. But the name Inchpenny has personality, a certain warmth and charm …but somehow it’s still financial.
Subtle emotional triggers like this are powerful in the world of branding.
This is why ‘invented’ names like Kingaru or Inchpenny can be so effective in branding. When done well, an invented name can send out gentle, or emotive hints at what a business does, but without laying it on with a trowel.
Names based on descriptive keywords, however, tend not to create emotional responses - or at least not positive ones.
Emotional doesn’t mean crazy
Of course you want a name that you, as the business owner, personally connect to. Forming an emotional attachment will help you feel a sense of ownership and pride, which will help see you through tough times. But beware; just because that slightly bonkers, highly personal name lights your fire and means a lot to you, this doesn’t mean it’ll do the same with customers. In other words, don’t overcook the emotion.
All of this means being brave enough to stand out from competitors, and brave enough to accept that not everyone will love your name and brand. But the people who matter will.
But before we get too hung up on all this creative, right-brained stuff, let’s not forget…
…choosing a business name needs logic
There are certain practical considerations when choosing a name, and there are some simple, logical tests you should use on your shortlisted names:
The search engine test
Google your business name idea, and see what results you get. Blindingly obvious I know, but it’s a good place to start when determining how common/rare your name ideas are. But don’t start with the aim of complete uniqueness. This is not realistic; there’s a massive world out there.
The domain name check
The ability to secure the perfect, no-compromise .com domain name is vital. Why? For a start, it guarantees a certain level of originality (and occasionally uniqueness) of a business name. There are also obvious SEO benefits to owning the .com, making a business easier to find online. This is where ‘invented’ business names come into their own. If you choose a new name that is available as a .com domain, you’ll be giving your business a significant head-start.
On the other hand, business names (and therefore domain names) that are based on common descriptive words and keywords are harder to find online.
But the icing on the cake is that a .com domain establishes ‘primacy’ if you own the .com, you have the opportunity to be THE company using that name.
Whatever anyone says, every serious company owns the perfect .com domain of their business name. And the ones that don’t really wish they did.
The 'Does the name paint me into a corner?' test
Using specific or descriptive words in a company name can be tempting. But most businesses change direction over time, sometimes subtly, sometimes drastically. So the business name that perfectly described a company on day one can go out of date.
Avoid being too specific with your name – you may well regret it later.
The phone test
How will it sound when you answer the phone and say the new company name? Is it easy to spell out loud? Are you slightly embarrassed when you say it? Does it sound a bit weird, and not in a good way?
Although it’s good to get creative, you still need a name that obeys the basic rules of orthography and phono-semantics. You can read more about words that make great company names here.
The company registration check
If there’s a business in your sector using the name you want, you need to think again. But if a version of the name is already registered by another business in another sector, this doesn’t matter a jot.
Too many people reject a great business name because another, entirely irrelevant business is using a similar name. Aiming for 100% originality is unnecessary.
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For anyone who has faced the challenge of naming a business, making a final decision is tough.
But employing a balance of left-brain/right-thinking - emotion AND logic - will help you make the correct choice.