Think about common products in your life. What brands come to mind? Do their names clearly represent their products or services? In some cases yes and others, maybe no. How do you determine your company’s name? Should there be an obvious connection or not? Here’s what I like to propose to clients who are struggling with developing a business name or changing their current one.
Does my business name have to be literal?
If you sell purple shoes, should your company name be “Purple Shoes, Inc.?” Probably not. That doesn’t necessarily hurt, but it’s an antiquated approach. Your company name can be anything; it’s the brand that’s important and how you build it around your company. Here are just a few companies whose names don’t really “say” what they do or sell.
You more than likely know what these companies sell, but only because of the brand behind the name. That’s where logos can also help! So when developing a business name, I try to help my clients put meaning before name. This concept is the foundation of developing a brand.
First Things First
Ask yourself these fundamental questions. Try to answer them in as few words as possible and write the answers down so you can refer back to them.
1. What does your company do?
Answer this question using a “verb, adjective and noun” approach. E.g. sell elegant clothing, make fun jewelry, grow organic vegetables, etc. This should help determine the most basic description of your business. It may help to categorize if you provide a wide range of products or services. E.g. consider “clothes” instead of “pants.”
2. What type of culture does your company have or will have?
Think about how people will perceive you and your business in terms of emotional values. Should your company be fun? Maybe professional and serious or laid-back and casual? Consider 3–5 descriptive keywords that you feel portray the culture of your company.
3. Who is your primary customer?
Think of the primary demographic you sell to, such as women age 18–35, parents whose household income is between $35,000–$50,000, etc. Now write down several keywords that you feel describe your customer demographic. E.g. busy, wealthy, caring, silly, etc.
Develop Your Keyword Bank
If you followed those guidelines above, you should have a list of 10–15 keywords. I organize them into 3 categories based on the questions above: What, How and Who.
Tip: Your company name can be anything; it’s the brand that’s important.
From here, I brainstorm other keywords based off my initial list. Thesaurus.com can help if you need a little bit of guidance.
Now that your creative juices are flowing, it’s time to start making sense out of some of these words! Find connections and develop phrases. You can even try separating words into segments or making compounds. E.g. FedEx, Facebook, YouTube, etc.
Put Your Stamp on It
This part isn’t always necessary, but I find many clients don’t feel a real connection with their company name unless it has a personal meaning to them. Usually, this means putting their first or last name in there somewhere or adding some other personal identifier. If that works for you, give it a go!
Try A Focus Group
A focus group is a demographically diverse group of people assembled to give feedback on a particular topic. Testing a few options of your business name with a focus group is a good way to get insight that may help you.
When developing a business name, try to put meaning before name. Hopefully these tips have helped you or one of your clients develop a brand-centric business name. You can also try using a focus group to review variations of your company name.