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How to Find a Good Business Name and Do Business Name Generators Work?

What is in a name? well… quiet a lot, actually. Your company name is one of the most important business decisions you are ever going to make. It is the one thing you will decide at the conception of your business that will probably last as long as you company does. You won’t be wearing the same shoes in 20 years, you won’t have the same car, but (if you do it right) your company will still have the same name – so it’s important to get it right.

A good business name has power

Your brand name makes a critical first impression. Even more than your shoes.”

- Alexandra Watkins

Your brand or business name is the very first thing people know about your company. It’s your identifier. A good name can make people curious about your business, it can appeal instantly, or reply immediately. Some seemingly “charming” naming conventions can even be offensive. Whereas a catchy, quirky name can spark interest or even make people feel like they identify with you before they even have any additional information.

But how do you choose a company name that works?

Best practices for naming your company

Not every name is a good name. Just because something has meaning to you, the business owner, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a good name for your business. There are certain things that you should always keep in mind when you name a company.

Identify who your company is and what you do

finding business name

Make sure that your name describes your company personality and style, it doesn’t have to say “Quirky books”, but “Amazon” tells you right away that this company is quirky and it’s probably big. As soon as you realise that they sell books your brain tells you, ahh – quirky books.

Keep it simple

Your name should be easy to understand, easy to pronounce and easy to remember. One thing that helps people to remember a name is if it gives them visual ques. With a name like Amazon books, customers might think of a jungle of books. This picture in their mind will help them later to remember the name of the online book store where they saw something they wanted.

Make it easy to spell

As soon as your name is difficult to spell or pronounce you are losing brand power. Not only will people forget it, or possibly not find it when searching for it, they will also feel foolish every time they try to say it. If you join two words together to create a new name, make sure that it creates a word that is easy to say and spell.

Make it lasting

easy to spell business names

Think about where you would like to see your company in five to ten years from now. Does your name limit growth or can you see your company evolving under the name? For example, if you were called “Joe’s dinner shoes”, you would have trouble branching out into other products like ties and socks, or even walking shoes. You name shouldn’t limit your growth.

Speak to your customer

who is your target audience

Your business name must appeal to the people you are trying to sell to. First of all – you must know who those people are. What do they like? What don’t they like? Does your company name appeal to your target demographic? Sit down and write two lists of words that relate to your customer. List their likes and dislikes. Get into the market and speak to them, so some AB testing. This information is valuable to your business not just for your name but for all future marketing campaigns you run, too.

Be descriptive

Write a list of adjectives that describe your business or your product. These could be anything from “big” to “fluffy” or “speedy”. These words can be really helpful if you are stuck, or if you find that there is another company with a similar name to yours. If there is, but they are in a different field, you could modify the name with an adjective. For example, the South African airline “Mango”. There was a small existing company called Mango when they set out, but they changed their URL to “flymango” and the problem was solved.

Your descriptive list should also include your mission description. If you are dedicated to making the world healthier or happier, these are descriptors that you can use in your naming conventions.

Use association

Your name can be something that associates with your service or business, even if it doesn’t describe it directly. For example if you are setting up an online store selling old school rock music CD’s, you might want to call it something like “Zeplins” or “HappyHendrix”.

The name is associated with what you sell, even if it doesn’t actually say “Music store”. Here again, you will think about your target market and what will be an obvious association for them. You want them to “get it”. However it shouldn’t be so niche that ONLY people in the know understand it. “Zeplins” is a name most people would know to associate with old school rock, whereas the name of a more obscure musician might just leave people confused and it won’t stick in their memory.

Keywords and domain names

It is well worthwhile to do a bit of keyword research on your name business before you name it. Find out what kind of search terms people are using when they search for products or services like yours. It is worthwhile to have some of those terms in your name, or at least in your URL. Remember that your URL doesn’t have to be exactly the same as your business name, but it’s great if it can be.

choosing a business name

If your company name is not available as a URL, consider adding a descriptive word (like flymango) or use a TLD instead of a .com. For example Tattly used the TLD .ly. Their company URL now reads .

What about automatic name generators?

Automatic name generators have their pros and cons, but are a tool worth considering. The most obvious disadvantage of name generators is that they can be a little generic, especially if you don’t have any ideas of your own to start with.

Some of the names they create are just plain unusable, and while great software and machine learning may mean that they can be scientifically sound, they don’t understand the emotional connotations humans connect to things.

Why you should use a name generator

Name generators do have some great value, though, and you should at least look at them for a couple of reasons:

Brainstorming ideas

If you are absolutely stuck and can’t think of a name, Name Generators can help to jolt your creative processes by coming up with the kinds of names you might not have considered otherwise. These can lead you down new thought processes even if they don’t actually work as is.

Checking availability and URLs

Name generators will automatically check the availability of both the name and URL before making a suggestion. Many of them allow you to type in your own ideas and they do a reference check for you online in a matter of seconds. They can also give you variations which are available if your ideas aren’t.

Checking your competitors

Most good name generating software can check what your competitors are doing if you fill in the details of your business. They will cross reference other companies who are doing the same kind of business as you are and be able to offer you useful insight on what they are called. Remember, you want to stand out from your competitors.

The Smile and Scratch test

There is a well-known, 12 step business name test that you can use to help you decide if the name you ‘ve chosen is going to work. It’s called the “smile and scratch” test, and it goes like this:

A good name should make you SMILE:

Simple – easy to visualise, spell, say, and understand
Meaningful – your customers instantly know what it’s all about
Imagery – your name is visually evocative – it evokes a picture in your mind
Longevity – it doesn’t limit your growth, it uses wordplay and it allows for brand extensions
Emotional – it makes your customers feel something positive when they see it

A Bad name is something you should SCRATCH:

Spelling-difficulties – the spelling is always going to be an issue
Copycat – You are using something too similar to your competitor’s name
Random – disconnected from the brand, it doesn’t tell the brand story
Annoying – It has a niche hidden meaning, it feels forced, or is offensive
Tame – boring, uninspired, un-emotional, doesn’t evoke anything in your customers
Curse of Knowledge – only insiders understand it
Hard-to-pronounce – if they can’t pronounce it they will forget it.

To sum up on naming your company

Your name is vital to your success – don’t try to rush the naming process. You wouldn’t rush to name your child, don’t rush to name your company. Make sure you take the time to fully research your options and your choices, and ultimately choose something that will make you feel proud of your company.

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