Learning how to name your design business is an important step in framing and branding your design company. Your design company name will show up on your business cards, in your email signature, and domain name. The name of your business is one of the first things clients see or hear in a pitch for work or contract negotiation.
Additionally, in the modern economy, you have to consider more than just how your design business name sounds and what it represents to you.
The Internet makes starting a business extremely accessible, but also means your design business name needs to hold up on social media (short and snappy wins the race!) and stand out from an already crowded industry.
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No pressure, right?
While naming your design business is important, don’t let it get in the way of more important revenue-generating tasks when starting your design business.
You want to get it right, yes. But you can always change it later. So pick something that works and move forward.
This article will show you how to name your design business so that it is true to you, relates to your audience, stands the test of time, and is something you can build a brand around.
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How to name your design business in 7 easy steps:
1. Build a massive wordbank
Step one in learning how to name your design business is to brainstorm as many words as you possibly can. Just get everything down on paper, in a Google doc, etc.
Building a word bank can be a lot of fun, but don’t forget the task at hand. You’re naming a design business, not playing Scrabble. To get a list that will help you in the long run, ask questions like:
- If you could pick one word that people think when they hear your design business name, what would it be? (eg: reliability, honesty, beauty, savings, etc.)
- What primary emotion do you want people to feel when they hear your design business name? (eg: happiness, confidence, peace, excitement)
- What is the mission behind your design business? (eg: do you design for small or large companies? Is working for sustainable or local brands important to you, do you want to create an affordable design option? etc.)
- What are some of your favorite brands currently? (You obviously don’t want to borrow another brand’s name when naming a design studio, but the names you already gravitate towards will likely spark your own genuine thoughts.)
- Is there a color or another description word that describes who you are as a designer? (Think: Red Hat, Sun Chips, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, etc.)
- Who is your audience? (Eg: tech gurus, fitness, startups, wealthy, etc.)
- What are some things that are important to you? (Values, pets’ names, the street you grew up on, etc.)
There are no bad answers and nothing is permanent. Remember, you’re still not naming a design studio at this point—just coming up with words that will help you down the road.
Make the list longer than you think you should, since the first words you brainstorm will be the most obvious, cheesy answers—leading to a cheesy design company name. After you break through the “obvious” barrier, you’ll begin to uncover really great words.
2. Identify the best words for naming your design business
Alright, you’ve got a great list. You should have dozens or maybe even hundreds of words, all relating to the image you want to project and the work you want to do.
You’re ready to move on to the next step in learning how to name your design business: it’s time to whittle down your ideas.
Circle words that work; underline words that might work; strikethrough words that aren’t a fit. Or some variation of that system that works for you and your design business.
As you’re working through the list, keep a vision of your ideal client in your mind.
You’ve heard the cliché, dress for the job you want? The same can apply in naming a design business. Pick the words that seem to label your design company as you want it to be in five, ten, or twenty years.
If you get stuck choosing your favorites, reach out to your inner circle. Family, friends, and peers who know you best will be able to give you a fresh perspective and help you make tough decisions on this journey of learning how to name your design business
3. Mix & Match Helpful Words
Some design companies can get away with a single word name, but you don’t have to choose only one when naming a design business.
Browse your list and choose some word pairings.
Be creative—grab a couple of words that don’t seem to go together at all and see what you can come up with. Maybe you identified the color green, because you have a vintage green lamp over your work desk, and you wrote down guru as an audience descriptor.
Voila! You’ve got GreenGuru Design!
It might sound simple, but it works. Did you know Verizon is a combination of the Latin “veritas,” (for truth) and “horizon?”
Remember—as you’re deciding how to name your graphic design business, the name doesn’t have to be an exact description of what you’re about. Once you settle on a name, you can build your reputation to fill it.
Keep pushing through the obvious choices until you find the perfect fit: something that describes you but stands out from the crowd.
Perhaps some of these real-life compound business names will inspire you:
- Facebook — which started as an online directory (book) of college students pictures (face).
- Airbnb — which began as a place you could rent out an extra air bed in lieu of a bed and breakfast.
- Venmo — whose name comes from vendere, Latin for “to sell,” and “mo” for mobile.
- Groupon — which combines “groups” with “coupons,” originally offering deals only if enough people in the group agreed to pay the asking price.
4. Settle on three great design business name options
After brainstorming a whole bunch of actual design business names, settle on three you’d like to explore further.
Why three? Because you need to seriously narrow your focus. (Remember: you don’t want the question of how to name your design business to halt your design business) But you also need options to help you refine your choice.
These should all be options you’d be happy with. You want to choose a design business name because it is the best fit for all of your criteria, not because it’s all that was left after you got rid of the ones you hated.
If there aren’t 3 design studio names you’d be happy with, go back and repeat the previous steps until there are options you’d feel good about when naming a design business. You might try opening a thesaurus and finding similar words to the ones you’ve already written down to give you new ideas.
5. Compare/Contrast each option using our decision matrix
Making that final choice can be tough. After all, naming your design business is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
That’s where Millo comes in. We’ve created a decision matrix to help you make a final decision when struggling with how to name your design business. This handy tool comes from our business naming workbook, Give It a Name.
|CRITERIA ↓ (RATE ON SCALE 0-5)|
|Does it give a good first-impression?|
|Does it evoke the right emotion?|
|Is it easy to pronounce?|
|Is it easy to spell?|
|Are domain names & social accounts available?|
|Is it memorable?|
|Do you personally like it?|
|Does it relate to or explain the value you provide to customers/clients?|
|Optional custom variable|
|Optional custom variable|
|Optional custom variable|
It works like this: you rank each design studio name on a variety of criteria that you may not have previously thought of. Things like spelling, memorability and availability are listed. And you can always add your own variables based on your specific needs.
When you’ve got total scores for each design business name, which one ranks the highest? This should steer you in the right direction.
However, never discount that gut feeling. If you don’t love the name that ranks highest on the “marketing” scale, go a different direction. You’ve got to be invested in your design company’s name, since (after finally naming your design business) you’ll be putting a lot of time and energy into promoting yourself under your new moniker.
6. Check for name availability
So you’ve found a design company name you love that fits within the needs of your brand. Great!
Before going further, there’s one more important thing to do when naming a design business. You’ve got to make sure no one else is already using the name.
Start with a basic domain search. Your URL will be one of your most powerful assets. It’s how clients will find you, it may host your design blog, and it’s a great place to showcase design portfolios.
Checking on the domain you wanted couldn’t be simpler. There are a variety of tools online which will tell you if the name is available or who you can purchase it from if not. Porkbun and Bluehost are good ones to start.
Below, you’ll find a handy domain name checker from Bluehost (one of our top recommended hosting providers):
Check your design business domain name:
Don’t count your design business name out if the domain is already registered. Huge brands may have to pay thousands of dollars for a prime URL, but if the name doesn’t include a particularly valuable keyword, you may be able to offer a reasonable price for it.
If your preferred URL isn’t an option, there are new options cropping up all the time. Extensions like .biz and .co (which we use right here at Millo!) are becoming more popular and have gained legitimacy with consumers in the last few years.
You don’t have to check every single social platform out there, but if there are some that you plan to use strategically, make sure those are available. Straying too far from your brand name in social handles will confuse your clients and make you difficult to find.
You may also need to check local business licenses or LLCs registrars depending on how and where your business is structured.
7. Decide and move ahead!
Now that you know the mechanics of how to name a design company, choose the one that’s right for you and get designing!
You want the name of your new business to be great, but don’t let the importance of naming your design business stop you from making progress on your dream.
Too many people get hung up on naming a design studio and never start their design business at all because their name isn’t “perfect.” It’s easy enough to find excuses. Don’t let something as simple as naming your design business be one of them.
The goal is to solve how to name your design business quickly (in an afternoon?) and move forward getting design clients and growing your business.
More helpful resources for naming your design business
- Wordoid works great for making up words that sound like they could be real.
- Name Mesh is great for brainstorming related words and verifying domain availability.
- Squadhelp offers affordable business and product naming services for when you’re really stuck or need outside help.
- Millo created this Give it A Name Workbook to help you name your business
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