Making a Name for Yourself — 8 Tips for a Better Identity

Whether you’re starting a new business or renaming your current one, it’s not easy to play the “name game,” where you discover the perfect name that has not already been used by another organization. The naming process is especially formidable, intimidating and frustrating when you think of all the descriptive and powerful names that have already been snatched up in the past few decades — think of the ocean of app and business names we all live afloat in these days!

Of course, you don’t want to make a mistake that could cost you in lost business or have a wishy-washy, non-descriptive brand identity. That means you should select a name that’s not too narrow in focus, not too generic, and not too suggestive of the wrong thing.

To help you avoid the mistakes, disappointment and stress on your naming journey, we want to offer these 8 tips to help you best meet your naming goals:

Recognize some specific words to avoid.

The chances of being able to use a single recognizable English word are becoming slim. The most common danger zones here include:

  • Single stand-alone English words
  • Power words, like Force, United, Omni and Icon
  • Symbolic words, like Bridge, Spring, Sage, Rocket

Don’t fret, though. Even though you shouldn’t use a stand-alone word that doesn’t mean you can’t morph them into something more original, including transmutations (like Zappos or Zumba), compounds (like SnapChat or WordPress), or even short phrases and clever puns.

Cut the crap.

You might brainstorm hundreds of names. First, get rid of the outright stupid ones, ones that couldn’t get a domain name, ones that could easily be misspelled, and ones that could be confused with a competitor. But keep the ones that are searchable, brief, evocative, catchy, easy to spell, convey a benefit, are specific, memorable, make sense for your business and sound good when said out loud.

Decide what you want the name to accomplish.

The right choice can differentiate your company, separate you from the pack and reinforce your company’s image. Choose your central direction and style (like classic, fun, powerful, helpful, etc.). Be sure to make the name descriptive enough to capture your value proposition and appropriately target your audience.

Don’t be too limiting.

Avoid picking names that could limit your business from enlarging its product line or expanding to new locations. The last thing you want to have to do is change your brand because it’s growing! And make sure your choice makes sense for your business.

Test possibilities out on Google AdWords

One of the great features of the “find keywords” tool on AdWords is that it will list similar search phrases, along with how many global and local monthly searches each are getting, according to an article in Entrepreneur. “Some AdWords searches with the name you are considering can ensure there isn’t a slightly different name out there that might get more attention on the Internet.”

Consider NOT naming it after yourself.

Most business mavens agree that it isn’t a good idea any longer. Sociable recently wrote that, “So before a name is decided for your revolutionary new business, it is best to stop and put some thought into name ideas, thinking beyond the usual ‘surname and surname’ convention.” Financial Post goes on to say that, “Naming your business after yourself demonstrates that you prioritize glory and profit over growing and attracting investment, according to a new analysis of records from more than a million firms… research helps us understand why the founders of Google/Alphabet, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft made very different naming decisions than old-school tycoons such as Henry Ford, James C. Penney and Walt Disney.” (Imagine how different things would be logging on to “Zuckerbook” or buying stuff from “J.P. Bezo’s” online store.)

Lock down the .com domain name.

According to Forbes, “Think of acquiring the .com name you want as a business investment. You can check on the availability of a domain name on sites such sites as GoDaddy.com or NetworkSolutions.com, and if the domain name is taken, you can often track down the owner of the domain name and see if they are willing to sell it by using the ‘Whois’ tool at GoDaddy or Network Solutions. Also, make sure to grab your desired business name on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.”

Conduct a trademark search.

Do a search at USPTO.gov to get an idea as to whether you can get a trademark or service mark for the name.

At Solamar, we follow these same tips when helping clients name their new businesses. Naming your business all comes down to one key idea: Make it yours! As the business owner, you’re going to be living with it for a long time, so make sure you are happy with it and believe it will ring true with your customers. That’s why it pays t o get it right from the start. Then, you and your business can live happily ever after with a name that will serve you for the long term.