When you’re starting out as an entrepreneur you may not think twice about your startup name, but a brand name has the power to make or break your business. These days, there are countless alternatives to every product or service imaginable, so this fact is more true today than ever before.
If your name isn't memorable and doesn't reflect what you offer, your customers will easily forget you.
Every business may have special offerings and differentiators that make them unique, but many look the same to the customer from the outside. When it comes down to it, the main differentiator ends up becoming their brand name and how memorable it is over time.
Our world is full of distractions, and consumers no longer have the attention span to research what they buy thoroughly. This is why well-named and marketed brands rely heavily on triggering an emotional response. Big businesses spend billions of dollars every year on their branding alone because they understand that customer perception is everything.
As a new entrepreneur, you likely don't have the budget to invest in spreading the word about your startup like that. So naming your company the right way from the start will be such a crucial piece to your success. If you want to learn how to choose a great name for your startup business, read on!
The Basics of Naming Your Startup
Back in the 90s when Apple and Amazon were named, it was vital to pay attention to where you would fall in a phone book. But now that you don't have to worry about that, how do you choose a company name that will serve you for years to come? Where do you start to show customers the value of your products and services and why they should choose you over your competitors?
To come up with the perfect business name, let’s narrow down your ideas using the five steps below.
Step One: Say it Out Loud
When you're thinking of a business name, it can be easy to get stuck in the weeds and focus on how it looks, the meaning behind it, and how it represents your products or services. But your name will likely be said as often as it's read, so when you're determining the right words, say them out loud as often as possible.
Make sure the company name you pick is short, simple, and pronounceable.
This will make your future marketing efforts much easier. A memorable name will also capture your customer’s attention much more easily.
Step Two: Search for Conflicts
A crucial step when you're learning how to pick a great business name is checking to see if there are any potential conflicts with other businesses. Start by doing a web search to see if there are any existing companies already using that name. If there are, check to see what they’re selling and what industry they are in.
Having similarly named companies in the same industry can cause unnecessary headaches down the road.
Legally speaking, it’s also a good idea to search for conflicting trademarks. Head over to USPTO or your country’s equivalent and search for the exact name you like. If you find any similar names in the trademark database then you will have to consult a trademark attorney to see if your name infringes upon another trademark. Otherwise, you’re good to go!
Step Three: Consider the Meaning
Determine if there are any alternate definitions of words in your business name, whether they’re used as slang or if they’re words from another language. Your business name could mean one thing in your language but it could put you in hot water with other cultures. Some of the worst business names in history experienced this problem.
You don’t want a name with a negative connotation to hurt your marketing efforts down the road, so it's crucial to pay attention to this.
You can also use the meaning behind the name to differentiate yourself from others. Consider your target market and think about creative ways to stand out from the crowd. For example, Jeff Bezos chose the word “amazon” for his company because it means the world’s largest river and one of his company’s goals was to offer the largest collection of products on the internet.
Step Four: Grab the Domain
Once you've found the perfect name, you need to secure the domain name for it before you commit to it. We now live in a tech-savvy world where every business needs a website and email address to function. This means it’s crucial to have a domain that matches your business name.
Don’t just grab any random extension like .net, .org, or .co.
Make sure your domain has the .com extension as it’s the gold standard on the internet.
It’s the most popular and trusted domain extension on the internet. When your potential customers type your brand name into their web browser, they’ll almost always use the .com extension and if you don’t own it then you’re just giving away free traffic to the person or company who does.
If the domain name you want isn’t available to register or you simply need inspiration for more ideas, try a marketplace like Alter which offers business names for sale that come prepackaged with a .com domain and even a professionally designed logo.
Step Five: Test it Out
Don’t keep the name you like a secret. Talk to other people about it. Mention it to your friends, family, coworkers, or neighbors for valuable feedback. Ask for their first impression because that’s likely what your potential customers will be thinking about when they first hear your business name.
Amazon was originally named "Cadabra," like the magician's phrase "abracadabra." But Jeff Bezos decided to change it after noticing that his lawyer confused it with the word “cadaver.”
Your business name could be mentioned on the radio, television, or through plain old word-of-mouth, so make sure it's clear and easy to pronounce.
It's essential to understand how valuable a great business name can be for your startup. Choosing the right name can feel overwhelming and frustrating at times but once you get through this critical process, you’ll be glad you did. Investing your time and resources into selecting the right name for your startup business will make all the difference in the world so choose wisely.
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