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Naming a business pose a challenge for many entrepreneurs, some of them realize that fact, others don't seem to care much.
Coming up with a company name is a very important step in launching your business.It’s easy to think anyone can come up with a good name, but it’s more complicated than that.
Naming can be one of the hardest parts of branding a business.
A name idea can come from anywhere, but getting buy in and seeing it through is tough.
Coming up with interesting name ideas isn't usually a problem, but the challenge is to evaluate and judge those name ideas.
Many of them ends up in a trash can.
Entrepreneurs usually say something like this:
I will know it when I see it!
Which automatically implies that you want to fall in love with your name.
This is rarely the case because naming a business is a very rigorous process.
The key is to stay objective - subjectivity will not prevail.
If you don't know how to approach the naming process, if you don't have any framework in place - then it's like shooting the ducks blindfolded.
What happens oftentimes is that clients schedule a free consultation with me just to ask this:
Which name is better? A or B or C - what do you think?
They tell me that they've been trying to find a name for several months but can't make a decision.
They fill stuck and need help.
It’s virtually impossible not to infer your own personal experiences and prejudices on to the meaning and suitability of a name.
The hardest part of naming is staying objective.
If it takes long months to come a with a name or if you feel like you're having a hard time arriving on something that you're 100% satisfied with - this is most likely because you're not being objective.
You're all over the place: Hey maybe this, or maybe that one.It's not about "maybe" - you need to define criteria first.
If your gut feeling tells you it’s terrible, it probably is.
One of the most important, crucial, fundamental principles is to decide what you want your new name to do for you right as you begin, not later on in the process.
Answering these 10 questions will help you define objectives:
Don't get me wrong - instinct has a rightful place at the table, but you have to stay objective.
Staying on brand and on strategy is crucial, because ultimately it's all about what works.
Often a name candidate won’t be available as a url, or as a handle on social media or they name is just taken by one of your competitors.
You will have to do A LOT of research.
Anyone can freely and cheaply register a web address, meaning there are more owned than properly used.
The trademark repository is ever-growing too.
Trademarks can be held indefinitely and only need to be renewed every 10 years.
Once they’re secured and protected, they tend to stay that way.
That's why doing the homework is important in the process of naming your business.
Finding the ‘right’ business name is never easy, neither is defining what’s right and for who.
Lateral thinking is great, but rigorous process never goes amiss.
Naming is a creative process and different naming agencies use different methods.
It's vital to have a structured conversations and establish clear parameters and process at the outset.
Here's our naming process:
Developing ideas within boundaries and presenting a well-considered argument holds the project together.
Having a framework allows you to evaluate your ideas quickly and make decisions fast.
Check my Naming Guide if you're for a framework that professional naming agencies use (with exercises and worksheets).
Once you have the overview of the process, let's understand what are the different types of names and see some examples.
This will give you a lot of points of reference in the "generate" phase.
There aren’t hard and fast lines between different categories of names and they apply to organizations, products and services alike.
Different experts/agencies categorize names in their unique way - for example in my other article I describe 5 types of brand names.
However, consider these as the three most basic name categories:
Descriptive names immediately conveys an idea of the ingredients, qualities or characteristics of the goods or services.
American Airlines, Toys R Us, General Motors, Ray Ban, Whole Foods, Crunch.
They just describe the service or product that you offer and the names are usually derived from product features or brand attributes.
Here are some advantages/disadvantages of using descriptive names:
Evocative names take a lateral leap and have symbolic value.
They’re metaphors or mnemonics – shortcuts to bigger concepts
e.g. Yahoo, Apple, Virgin, Nike, Patagonia, Amazon, Bing, Google, Visa Dive, Uber, Slack.
They usually convey a bigger idea and stem from a positioning strategy.
Here are some advantages/disadvantages of using evocative names:Pros:
Abstract names are invented words that aren’t obviously linked to a product or offer.
e.g. Verizon, Kodak, Skype, Exxon, Xerox, Vivo, Hulu, Zappos, Marketo, Spotify, Tinder, Tivo
They might be either totally made up words, or sometimes they origin in something relevant or combine words to create a new, fabricated word.
Abstract names[/caption]Here are some advantages/disadvantages of using abstract names:
Once you've seen what's possible, it may inspire you in your creative process.
However, keep in mind that following what other do may or may not be a good thing.
When someone breaks the mould well - others will follow.
Like anything, naming trends come and go.
If you follow trends you may find out that there’s little difference between names.
Here's the history of the naming trends:
A name should live as long as the brand does, so it’s important to avoid and anticipate fashions.
First of all, you need to understand what's the definition of a good name.
It’s hard to define what makes a good name if you don't have any criteria against which you can judge your naming ideas.
Understanding what's the message you must communicate is the key.
The best naming projects began by laying out objectives and determining what the name must convey.
You must link measurement to the specific objectives in the brief and stay strategic, not emotional.
Here are four elements that make a great name:
Use this to create criteria against which you can judge your name candidates.
When brainstorming business names don’t get too specific right away.
It’s always helpful to start very broad.
So try to come up with names from every category.
Brainstorm a long list, using different thematic start points:
Bring lots of heads together to brainstorm as many name ideas as possible.
Lead thinking in unexpected directions, but keep it short and on brand.
Write everything down - you will filter that later.
If nobody objects, you’ve probably got the wrong name.
A name should spark intrigue and polarize people.
It takes a brave CEO to run with a bold name, and it’s not easy.
I recommend running naming workshops internally to get all key stakeholders aligned.
It requires a disciplined approach and an experienced facilitator to make sure the team stays on point.
The process can be long and exhaustive if you let the conversation go off track.
Begin the brainstorming by reminding yourself of the basic principles of a solid name, but also strive to be creative.
Try to be creative and think outside of the box.
An effective name is quick and easy to pronounce, spell, and share with others.
Don’t worry about coming up with any names you don’t like right away - it may lead to something better.
The more different name candidates you have to cross off of your list, the better your name will be.
Once you've exhausted your list and you have a lot of strong candidates - start judging them against your criteria.
Does it look the part? Does it need explanation? Does it fit the bigger picture?
Now it's time to start crossing off the names on your long list that won’t work for your business.
Eliminate weaker name ideas and focus on stronger candidates.
Keep crossing off the names until you only have a list of five or ten favorites.
In addition, trademark validation can be a helpful tool to value that your business name is available.
All you need to do is perform a quick trademark risk test to double check that your name isn’t already in use by a similar business.
Also check my youtube video with a simple naming evaluation exercise I run online with one of my clients.
Overall, coming up with the perfect startup name can feel like a daunting task for many entrepreneurs.
A good name is key to a business' success.
Although it may feel like all of the best brand names are already taken, if you just follow these simple strategies you WILL find the perfect business name.
Naming is a creative process so there’s little common practice.
At Lexicon, it’s about breadth of input.
NameLab digitally combines morphemes and calls the process ‘constructional linguistics’.
At Ebaqdesign I use my proven naming framework to run workshops with my clients.
Are you looking to hire for your brand naming? — Start a project here
Also check out Alexandra Watkins' new naming course — use code EBAQ to get $300 off
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