How to Find the Perfect Business Name


You can craft a novel idea, create an organization from the ground up, map out your business plan and hire a quality team, and still struggle with one seemingly minor detail: choosing a name for your business.

Your company’s name should not be settled on or taken lightly. Consumers will inevitably make assumptions based on your brand’s name, and if it doesn’t represent what you seek to be, then you’re starting off on the wrong foot. While you’re never trapped with a name, you should choose one with the intention of maintaining it for years. Here’s how to do it.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, right? Well, we tend to do so anyway. Similarly, consumers tend to judge a business by its name.

Business names matter – a lot. While a great name can spark a successful breakthrough, the downside can be equally significant, said Phil Davis, president of Tungsten Branding.

Many owners name their businesses after a specific product or service they provide. This, however, can cause issues when the company begins offering something unrelated to its name. For instance, IHOP (previously known for its pancakes, which are no longer the hot sellers they used to be) just started using the name IHOb, or International House of Burgers, to better represent its changed brand (though this may be just a temporary marketing stunt). Situations like these are why many companies rename themselves over time.

Companies also look for new names after mergers and divestitures. Businesses encountering similarly named competitors after entering new markets often rename themselves to sort out trademark confusion. Others may rename to leave negative events behind them. And, of course, every new company must come up with a new name.

Having the right name can save money, because a business doesn’t have to spend advertising and marketing dollars clarifying or elaborating on the muddled message that the wrong name conveys. A good name can also help lift a provider above competitors, reach out to new markets and open doors to further growth.

Renaming is less about picking a name than building one, naming experts said. It starts with defining your business, its brands and its goals, said Amanda Soderlund, product manager at Clutch and author of a report on naming.

“Most businesses have, unfortunately, terrible or mediocre company and product brand names,” said Jay Jurisich, CEO and creative director of naming agency Zinzin. Bad names are often inherited from predecessors, but Jurisich said he also blames lousy name-creation processes.

The name you want will likely express how your business does business, not just what you sell, he said. That means avoiding literal descriptive names of products or services, as well as geographic references that may limit your marketplace.

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