It’s All in the Name: Tips for Naming Your Business
Picking a great company name is often one of the least labored-over aspects of launching a business, but it probably shouldn't be. A killer name can easily become an essential ingredient to a startup's success, while a lousy or inappropriate name can prevent a company from really catching on like it should. So while the gang from HBO's Silicon Valley have had some startup success with a terribly-named company (Pied Piper? yikes!), you should think long and hard before settling on a name for your business.
While there is no method that will work for every company, here are some tips to get you started on finding a great name.
1. Keyword Brainstorming.
Start your brainstorming session by jotting down all the keywords you can think of related to your business and its products or services. Try to think of words that have a positive connotation, or that reflect the kind of image you want your company to project (say, casual vs. corporate). Looking at the names of your competitors might inspire more ideas, but be careful not to copy them. Think of your target demographic and write down any keywords that come to mind. Go to thesaurus.com and look up synonyms to keep adding to the list. Finally, try creative word combinations from your keyword list.
2. Forget Keywords: Coin Your Own Name.
More and more companies these days are using made-up words for their names. Acura, Google, Kodak, and Verizon are just a few prominent examples. While some experts disagree on whether these kinds of names are more memorable, some businesses have had terrific success with them. Sites like wordoid can even help you generate interesting made-up words. Just be sure that your made-up word doesn't mean something in another language that could lead to misconceptions about your business!
3. The 5-10 Rule.
Some experts swear by the 5-10 rule, which argues that most great companies have five to ten letters in their name—with at least one hard consonant and often with a repeating letter. Current examples include Walmart, Starbucks, Apple, Verizon, Microsoft, Amazon, Target, and Google. Of course, there are exceptions like Berkshire Hathaway, General Motors, and Hewlett-Packard. The 5-10 rule may or may not work for your company, but it's something to think about. And in the age of social media, a short, snappy company name can be even more beneficial.
4. Check for Availability.
Once you've narrowed it down to a few favorites, check to see whether or not it's already in use. You can use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's trademark search tool to make sure you don't infringe on any trademarks. Search the WHOIS database to see if the domain you want for your business is available. You should also check the availability of your business name on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites that you intend to use for marketing.
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