How to come up with a business name (with free workbook and over 100 examples)

Coming up with a name for your business can be really tricky. It’s quite important though as you’ll need this to be decided quite early on so you can actually begin! There are people to inform, domains to be bought, social media platforms to dominate… but don’t rush it. Take the time to come up with something you’re happy with.

Confession. I came up with my business name in a week, with baby brain. It’s a streetname for a place that means a lot to me – but has very little to do with what I actually do… except that I am a bit of a fan of using acres of whitespace where possible. I nearly called my business “Looking Glass Creative” but I’m glad I didn’t.

So how do you actually come up with a name for your business?

 

The Baby Vine was chosen by our mam who was very ill with ovarian cancer. The Vine element is about joining together, growing, linking families as is what our baby social groups aim is. My newest venture, cafe, is called Roots, keeping with the plant, growth, natural ethos. The Baby Vine will move to there eventually. Coincidentally my name is Ruth, or Roota to those closest to me.
The Baby Vine

1. Think about what sort of business name you want.

Keeping it simple (you could split these up further if you wanted to) There are essentially three types of business name.

a. Your name.

This is great if you want to have a very personal brand. If your business is all about YOU. There are a lot of people who go down this route. It’s quick, it’s easy and it works no bother with a personal bank account – but don’t think this will stop you from scaling your business. Examples: Sainsburys, W H Smiths, Kimra Luna, Oprah, Marie Forleo, Harrods, Mary Berry, Cath Kidston, Emma Bridgewater, Marks & Spencer.

b. Obvious. A business name that says what you do.

Immediately obvious. It’s a bank, it sells power, it’s a furniture shop. So HSBC for example – Hong Kong and Shang Hai Banking Corporation – you can’t get that wrong.  They last forever. The Female Entrepreneur Association – it’s very obvious who they work with. The Utility Warehouse sells utilities. The Post Office is where you go to post things.

I’m including names that almost tell us what the business does or who they serve but aren’t immediately obvious in here too. Canva, StumbleUpon, Evernote.

c. Abstract. A business name that doesn’t mean anything at all.

Google once fit into this category. It’s a B now! Just like Hoover or Skype. This doesn’t always happen of course – and may take a while. In the meantime – or perhaps because you don’t WANT to have a business name that means what you do directly, there are a lot of words to choose from, combine or invent. Apple, Firefox, Kodak, Nike, Ikea. All nice words and with meanings attached now – but when they started, that word was just a word.

There are also variations of all of the above.

However – this post isn’t about the different types of business name you can come up with. It’s about HOW to come up with that name in the first place! Having a think about the sort of name you’d like will be a good starting point.

AAA Property North East Ltd – We are a property management business and so we wanted Property in there to be clear and we are only north east based and then we added the AAA to make sure we appeared first in the phone book really, (this was 10 years ago and before creativity!)

2. List.

Click here for your free workbookWrite down every single word you can think of that’s relevant to your business.

What do you do?

What tools do you use?

What are the benefits?

What’s the purpose of your business?

What’s the history of your profession?

What are your values?

How does your business make people feel?

Who are your audience? Go into as much detail as you can here.

What is the process people go through?

What is the outcome?

What are the action steps?

How do you deliver what you do?

What’s important to you about your business?

Is there a person, a moment, anything at all that is a key influence to you starting your business?

What are your longterm plans?

Do you need to discount some words because they don’t work with your overall vision?

Look at all of the words and see if any of them jump out at you. Play with them and see what happens. Can you make a new word from two of the words you have, or use some words together?

I’ve struggled with this before and at some point just decided to keep it easy and stick to melissaopie.com
Melissa Opie

3. Research words.

Get out a Dictionary of Idioms, a Thesaurus, a Dictionary, a Latin Dictionary, Dictionaries in other languages… and add more words. Use descriptive words too. Keep playing, keep working at it. The meanings of the words might help you come up with something relevant and creative. You might want to grab the words that stick out the most and pop them somewhere that you can see them and think about them regularly, like your fridge or the cupboard the mugs live in.

A camping trip – sitting around a campfire drinking wine and trying to figure out what to do next. I help people figure out, write and share their biz stories and a campfire is the perfect place for storytelling.

4. Think.

If you’re still stuck then spend some time thinking about the names that you do like. What do you like about them? Maybe they use alliteration, or ___ and ___, perhaps there’s a tone to the names that sounds serious or optimistic. Have a good think and see if thinking about this paired with looking at your many words helps you see a possibility where you couldn’t see one before.

My husband came up with mine…after I filled the house with dinosaurs and was in the middle of a short paleontology course and STILL struggling for a name. He drew my dino logo too. Where would I be without him!

5. Ask.

By now you should have some ideas. If not then you can always ask some trusted people to see if they can help you. Once you have some ideas then you’ll want to test them out. There’s a few ways to do this:

a. find some ideal customers and ask their opinions. This could be a focus group or a survey. Give them specific questions or they won’t give you valuable feedback. So yes, you want to know which name stands out to them the most, but it would also be handy to know what feelings and impressions they get from each name. What do they think you do based on that name?

b. Split test. Run some ads with different names and see which ones perform the best.

“Bela” in portuguese is “beautiful” and I seek beauty in everything everyday, and all brides in the world look beautiful, no matter what! Anabela’s Brides is all about beauty, romance and love!

6. Sleep on it.

Maybe over a few nights. Give yourself time to get used to it, saying it over and over again, seeing how comfortably it slips off your tongue.

I am a dairy farmer, and love listening to the birds singing while I’m milking. So I named my farm “Birdsong Farm.”

7. Implement

Once you’ve settled on a name, boy do you have a lot of work ahead of you! If this is the first time you’ve thought of a name then you needed to do this anyway – if you are rebranding then you will need to re-do everything that you already have. Get the Brand Review so you can see a list of touch points which you might find handy for this!

If you’re rebranding then it can be a worry for you what other people will think. Will your people still know who you are? If you’re rebranding to your name then this is easier to manage as you simply use your name a LOT in the run up. Everywhere. You could go by Business Name by/with Your Name for a while as you transition over. If you’re going from one name to another then you could have a period where you do this with your business too – so New Business Name by Old Business Name. This would be a much more gradual change. Or you could simply switch overnight – have everything ready and then change it all. Whatever you decide to do – and it really is up to you – having a new name is a great excuse to shout about your business, come up with some new offers and new content and make a big fuss everywhere so that everyone knows and you’ve also made the most of it.

I went through a really robust branding process, and we came up with The Content Direction Agency, because it sounded like “detective agency” to me! LOL. But then I have morphed into an agency model, so it worked out great.

Other things to think about:

– How does your name work as a url? Type it in and see. Don’t forget to check that the domain and relevant social media urls are available as well. If your name isn’t available but you still want to use it, then you will need to think creatively! Maybe use go or get before your name in the url,  or add a letter or remove a vowel in the name. It all depends on what impression you want to create.

– Check that your name is available – UK: https://www.gov.uk/search-for-trademark US: http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=4809:a226dy.1.1

– Is it easy to spell? Make it easy for your audience to find you!

– Is it easy to say?

– Does your name mean something to your customers as well as yourself? Don’t call it after your first Hamster (unless he had a great name that really does tick all the boxes!)

– Is your name really similar to someone else? If so, you might want to reconsider. You want to stand out!

When I came up with mine I was thinking of converting a classic van, so I wanted a 50’s theme. I tried to emulate the rock’n’roll image with my logo etc. I sat down and wrote down lots of song titles and 50’s jargon before I hit on FlipnFast. I dropped the 50’s theme for the business in the end, but kept the name and logo, people often comment that it’s very 1950’s!
FlipnFast

Other handy links:

http://daniellezeigler.com/questions-naming-business/

http://rebellivin.com/2016/02/22/why-i-changed-my-brand-from-midlife-rebels/

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/whats-name-tina-boden?trk=hp-feed-article-title-comment

https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/21774

How did you come up with your business name? Tell me in the comments.

 

ALSO NEED A TAGLINE?

Check out this fantastic post from Lisa Haggis all about how to make a tagline worthy of your dream. A fantastic brainstorming exercise to help you work out your tagline to go with that new business name.

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