The 3 most important factors in naming your business

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Naming your business is probably the single most challenging task in creating a business – and career – you love.

Despite an internet overflowing with business naming advice and a wealth of creative ability, most of us creative entrepreneurs (myself included – read my naming story here) struggle, fret, cry, lose sleep, and admit utter defeat before finally finding the perfect name…sometimes months or years later.

And for many of you, I know you’re still hunting for the perfect name that fits everything you hope your business will achieve.

So while you’re brainstorming your new business name, keep these three essential factors in mind:

Sidenote: Once you finish, read how 4 freelancers built recurring revenue models that changed their business. You'll love it.

Easy to say & spell

No matter how awesome and original your potential business name might be, if no one can spell it or remember your website address, you’re going to lose a ton of potential business.

And if you’re going international, it’s even more important to keep it short and simple. What might be a “normal” name or phrase in your language might be very unusual – or worse! profane – in another.

Pro Tip! Ask an 8 year-old and an 80 year-old to say your potential business name out loud. If they struggle with how you want it pronounced, keep working on it!

Something you absolutely love

Your business name (and logo) is something you’re going to sell every. single. day. To do that well, you have to be 100% invested in it.

You can’t get tired of it.

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You can’t get bored with it.

Your business name will become synonymous with you, so it has to fit like the most comfortable piece of clothing you’ve ever owned and can’t bear to get rid of just yet.

And like that favorite piece of clothing, your new business name might take some time to wear in. When you’ve got a really solid business name idea, sleep on it and then sleep on it again.

If you still think “this is the one,” test it out:

  • Write it on 5 sticky notes and put them in the most visible-to-you locations
  • Pretend to answer the phone with it
  • Say it 100 times over the course of 2 days
  • Share the name with your closest confidantes
  • Create a 15-second networking pitch
  • Brainstorm initial logo ideas

Is it starting to feel like your second skin yet, or are you getting sick of it?

You’ll know you’ve nailed your business name when it brings a secret little smile to your face when you whisper it under your breath.

And when you subconsciously develop a solid defense for it.

And when it’s okay that someone you care about doesn’t like it because you know they just can’t see the big picture in your mind yet.

(Did you nail it already? Share your naming story with us!)

Not already taken

I list this last, but it’s really one of the first things you should check…before you fall in love.

Do a Google search for your potential business name and see what pops up. Check the URL availability. Chances are, your first names are already going to be taken; maybe even by other businesses in your industry.

That’s okay, though. Like in the design process, you have to get all the mediocre names out before you find the perfect fit.

Pro Tip! If you really love a business name that’s already taken, can you customize it to make it your own? Perhaps use a different spelling, scramble the word order, or use a thesaurus to brainstorm synonyms.

Other considerations

Without the above three elements, you’re setting yourself up for a rocky relationship with your business name at best and at worst, legal trouble for trademark infringement.

However, there are tons of other important aspects of a business name, including:

  • how your primary audience will receive it (i.e. Cowboy Creative might be more successful in a rural setting)
  • whether or not to it should explain what you do
  • how expensive (or inexpensive) it sounds in relation to your pricing strategy
  • if it needs to expand as you offer additional services
  • whether it should include part or all of your own name
  • if it will capitalize on a current fad or be a timeless classic

One thing’s for certain though: no one else can name your business for you. Others can help you brainstorm and inject new creativity, but no one will know the perfect name for your business except for you.

So get going! Your perfect name awaits.

PS – If you read my naming story, you’ll notice I promise to help you name your business, and that still rings true. Feel free to leave a comment here or there and I’ll do my best to get your creative juices flowing.

 

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About April Greer

April is the Director of Projects at Reliable PSD, a design-to-code company for designers, by designers. She’s the glue keeping everything together, organized, and right on time, and giving everyone a fantastic experience while she does it.

 

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Comments

  1. I was working on a logo for a client and developed a graphic element using her initials. I casually referred to it as an “initial snowflake” and my client thought it was genius. She suggested naming my company SnowflakeDESIGNS and I immediately knew that was “IT” My tagline is “no two are alike”

  2. Great article April! I read with hesitation but was thrilled when I found that the business name my wife and I chose hits every mark you offered. We live in a mostly rural area, and we both are creatives that have years of experience in illustration, photography, and graphic design, and are still always learning. So we recently started our own business, Dirt Road Creative Services. Thanks for the cool and insightful article.

  3. Hi Keith,

    You’re welcome, and congratulations on finding your perfect business name! I’m glad your trepidation turned to glee!

    Thanks for sharing,

    April

  4. My business name (Langi Lala Studios) comes from my childhood nickname, which refers to how much of a skinny bean pole I was (still am, to some regard). It’s a story that makes me chuckle when people ask about its origins,

    • Peta-Ann,

      It’s fantastic to have a good back story for your name because the people who relate to and enjoy the story will probably become some of your best clients. Creating a positive emotional response to your business is key in getting and keeping clients!

      Thanks for sharing,

      April

  5. Hello,

    I’m trying to come up with a name for my business. I offer full service freelance marketing and design. I am currently based in Chicago and slowly building a client base. My goal for this year is to become more official, develop a legitimate website, business cards, etc. Right now, the name I have come up with is Hoss Creative Solutions, my domain would be http://www.hosscs.com. This is an homage to my dad, who before passing away in 1999, had a very successful graphic design agency called HieroglyFX design. His nick-name was Hoss. Any help would be seriously appreciated because I’m feeling very stuck right now and I’ve got a serious deficit of other creatives in my life to bounce ideas off of.

    • Touching idea for your business name Amanda. I would think that you have your work cut out for you being in a metropolis such as Chicago. I would suggest to go with the full name on your website domain. We were going to try CS on ours too, but seemed to potentially add confusion. So, ours is http://www.dirtroadcreativeservices.com. And please, feel free to bounce ideas our way any time you need a sound board. We have a facebook page too, which I also suggest. Good luck in your endeavors Amanda!

  6. Hi, I completely agree with this article. I think choosing a name is the hardest thing to do. When we were coming up with a name we wanted something to represent us, be fun, edgy and memorable and most of all available.

    This is exactly when we knew that DevPunchStudios was our name, “You’ll know you’ve nailed your business name when it brings a secret little smile to your face when you whisper it under your breath.”

  7. Hi April,
    I love what you wrote. It’s so true that people most of the time do not think ahead when they do the logo and company name. Where I live, in a small paradise island in the Indian Ocean called Mauritius. I constantly face clients that do not want to invest time or money on a proper company name and branding.
    Trying to educate them in reasons why to find the perfect name and logo can be a mission.

    Thank you for making those reasons a lot easier to explain. With that I would like to repost your blog on my company’s blog. With your permission of course.

    Fernando

    • Fernando,

      Thank you so much! I’m glad I could help. Feel free to link to this post on your blog – please don’t duplicate it and publish, though, as it’s possible we’ll both get dinged by Google for duplicate content.

  8. These factors are great to keep in mind. Naming your business is more important than most think.

  9. Great article. We went through a similar journey when we named our studio, Another Colour.

    http://anothercolour.com.au/blog/how-to-name-a-studio/

  10. Fantastic advice April, really easy to understand, yet your explaining some tough concepts that I know many find it difficult to grasp.

    Love your pricing startergy suggestion, taking this a step further I also think that for design firms positioning is highly important, as there are so many other competing services, your name must stand out in some way from the crowd.

    In terms of domain name availability, a good idea can be to add a term or phrase to your name to obtain an available domain, so for example “MadeBy”, “Designs”, or perhaps take the above idea and add your point of difference i.e. if your an all female firm you could add the word “Her”.

  11. Hello April! I love your articles, and this is actually the only design blog I follow, your content is just awesome.

    Would you please give me an opinion about my branding name?

    My name is Idgie Pena, I do not like “Pena” but I find Idgie very distinctive and memorable. But is it to hard too spell? I have never found someone that thought my name was normal, I can’t tell if that’s good or bad.

    Also, I don’t think “design” makes a good combination (such as Idgie Design), is Idgie too short for a brand? I like to think that it sounds more like a random word and not necessarily someone’s name, but as it is my real name I’m having trouble taking an outside look.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi Idgie,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! You’ve made my entire week. 🙂

      Idgie is certainly an unusual name from my perspective, but I find that normal is boring anyways. Heheh. I think have a lot of options by starting with Idgie, and probably none of them will ever be taken!

      Definitely you could just go with Idgie…it’s one of those names that won’t ever get mistaken for someone else. Or something like Edgy Idgie (if you’re indeed edgy).

      What sort of work do you do? What project types/styles/etc. are you most interested in? What adjectives describe you? These are all great places to start when brainstorming ideas!

      Let me know what you come up with!

      April

  12. Hi April,

    What do you think about the name Stark Raven Design? I liked the play on words and it’s easy to say. The raven is also one of the most intelligent and creative (problem-solving) birds. I could play on it a bit with the design/tagline (insanely creative, etc.)

    Kat

  13. Thanks for the post. I agree that your business name should be easy to say and spell. I see so many business with weird spelling, and I have a hard time remembering what the business name is. The name of your business is so important. It is how you will brand your company, and if you don’t absolutely love it, you will have a hard time changing it later on.

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