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How to Come Up With a Business Name

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While some business owners know their business name before they even begin writing their business plan, many others struggle to come up with the perfect name for their company, and for good reason. The name you choose will be front and center on business cards, websites, and advertisements. It will be everybody’s first impression of your business, so a lot is riding on this decision.

The following will help those who are struggling with finding the best name for their business by breaking down the most important aspects of a business name. By thoughtfully choosing a business name, you are giving your business the best chance at success.

Decide Who You Are

The first and most important thing you must consider is your industry. The industry you’re in will help to decide everything else about your business name. There are many business industries, such as finance, agriculture, restaurant, sales, and countless others. Within these industries are subcategories. So, to find the portion of the industry you’d like to appeal to, it’s a good idea to break it down to the smallest subset of your industry.

For this article’s sake, let’s pretend we are developing a business in the cosmetic industry. Our business’s primary focus is mascara and other eye makeup products. We would want to find a business name that focuses on eye makeup but is not so specific that our business will never be able to grow beyond eye makeup.

We would start by thinking of names related to the eyes. Start with obvious ones, like lashes, iris, pupil, blinking. Then, move onto more ambiguous words, like windows to the soul, winking, bright. Now, we have a few words to consider when choosing the name for our makeup business.

Make it Obvious

While ambiguous names can be a great marketing strategy, these types of names often require large marketing budgets. The general rule is to pick a name that helps to explain what your business is. This can mean either picking a name that directly describes what you do or a name that fits within your industry.

Going back to our cosmetic company example, we want potential customers to understand that we are in the makeup business. So, using the words makeup, cosmetics, or a portion of those words will help to better establish exactly what our company does.

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Find Your Niche

Consider what part of your business sets you apart from the rest of the business in your industry. Do you have a niche that your competitors don’t? Capitalizing on what makes your company different by including your specialty in your business name can help advertise what you’d like to be known for.

We’ve already established that our cosmetic company specializes in eye makeup, but what we would like to be known for is our mascara. With this in mind, we will focus on words related to eyelashes, like lash and wink, to create our perfect company name.

Tap into Emotions

Next, you should consider how you want people to feel when they hear your companies name. There are countless feelings that business names can evoke. The name of a company can be inclusive if you want people to feel like they are welcome to be a part of your business. Or it can be exclusive, to make people feel a part of a limited group of people. Names can also be edgy, wholesome, modern, classic, or anything else you want to convey.

For our cosmetic company that specializes in mascara, we want a name that is easy to pronounce so that it is inclusive. However, we want something sophisticated, so that it will stand out from lower quality products. We will keep these two criteria in mind as we move on to choosing our business name.

Make a Name for Yourself

Now that we have analyzed exactly what we would like our business name to say about our company, it’s time to begin piecing together some possible business names. The words we have singled out so far are lash, wink, makeup, and cosmetics. One way to create names is to put the words together, creating names like LashUp, WinkUp, LashMetics, and WinkTics.

From here, we will eliminate the ones that don’t evoke the feelings we would like. LashMetics sounds like a medical spa, so that’s out. WinkTics is difficult to pronounce and doesn’t sound like a makeup company. So, we are left with WinkUp and LashUp. We can then make variations of these names, giving us WinkedUp and LashedUp.

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Now that we’ve picked four possibilities, it’s time to get some outside opinions. There are many ways to do this. We can source some opinions from family and friends, create a quiz online or make a survey, do further research on our competitors, or a combination of all of these.

After getting outside feedback, it’s time to pick your business name. For our example, we’ll assume that most people liked the name WinkUp. Now we can move on to creating a fruitful business that will continue to grow and prosper under this thoughtfully crafted name.

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8 Popular brand name types to consider

To further help you find the perfect brand name, We categorized the most popular brand name tapes into 8. Each type has its pros and cons.

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The one-word brand names

There is a lot to one-word brand names. They could be real words or real names, or arbitrary names, either way; they have useful pros to them.

Arbitrary brand names are the calibre of names that consist of real words used in an entirely different context. Arbitrary brand names have nothing to do directly with the products they market. It is a dictionary word used in relation to unrelated products and services. They are usually used to give a strong appeal to the target audience- evoking the quality the brand is meant to have and portray.

Examples of arbitrary one-word names include; Apple, Fox, Wink,  Shadows

Pros

  • Arbitrary names are known to for easy memorization. They usually stick with the target audience easily.
  • Arbitrary names are also known to communicate the nature of their words to the target

Cons

  • Arbitrary one-word names require a lot of energy to dissociate people’s association with their original meanings that come with them.
  • They require an intense strategy for brand building and might also give so much stress when a domain name is sought for under this category.

The Two-Word brand names

Two-word brand consist of two words joined together. The combination of names could involve nouns, nouns, and verbs, or non-nouns and verbs. It can involve combinations in any form to get the desired effect. Sometimes names that are derived as a blend of two words are categorized as two –word brand names. Blends also possess fragments that are recognizable portions of a word, instead of having a word in its whole form. They are known to be short and catchy when combined right but if they are combined in the wrong manner; they give a terrible effect and an awkward feel to brand names, which can adversely affect the progress of the brand. Examples include Sharpcast- which is a blend of the words-“sharp” and “Broadcast”. Wikipedia is also another perfect example, which evolved from the blends of two words “Wiki” and “encyclopedia”.

Examples of two-word brand names are Facebook, Firefox, SocialText, YouTube, Jumpcut, Mastercard, FitBit .

Pros

  • Two-word brand names are not easily limited. There is room for great creativity of combinations, for the birthing of distinct and unique names.
  • The names created are bound to be catchy and interesting upon dissection for its meaning by the target audience.
  • Most times, the meanings of this kind of words easily depict the values of the kind of brand they represent

Cons

  • Many times, if the bouts of creativity are not put in check; a long name-which might not be customer-friendly-might be come up with. Long names are most times not suitable as brand names, short names are better for easy pronunciation and easy visibility. Constantly being in the face of your target audience is important in marketing.
  • The use of two-word combinations might limit a company’s expansive abilities to diversify into other Business areas.

Common Phrases

Brand names that are made up of common phrases also give a cool combination of names, possessing the substance of longevity and emotional appeal. They are usually adopted by many businesses because of the touch of uniqueness they carry, as brand names. The combined phrases cumulate to express the vision of the company it is to represent, thereby giving the target audience a good feel about what the brand is about and the services they have to offer. Common phrases are preferred by many because there is an allowance for preferential mixtures of words considered suitable, they also give room for the kind of blends your target audience will find easy to relate with and remember. It constitutes part of the ingredients for a good brand name.

Examples of brand names made up of common phrases include; Linkedin, Simplyhired, Myspace, Allpeers, Last.fm, Cool.fm, TheBeat

Pros

  • Brand names with compound phrases are catchy, descriptive and natural. They can easily be remembered by the target audience.
  • This category of brand names has easily accessible meanings to their brand names, something the customers can relate well with.

Cons

  • Sometimes, they might not be well combined. Lack of proper combination will provide a name too long.

Invented brand names

This involves the use of names that are not found in the dictionary. That’s why they are “self-invented”. This kind of brand names is known for their “juiciness”. Inventing brand names gives room for creativity mixed with skill, which gives an overall effect of uniqueness. Invented brand names usually give room for “freestyle”, and also for the invention of something different your target audience will tend to find appealing and interesting. Once customers find a brand name interesting, there is bound to be progress and high brand positioning for such a brand. Some companies that have adopted invented brand names seem to have made noticeable progress since inception.

Examples of invented brand names include; Twitter, Simpy, Bebo, Zillow

Pros

  • Invented names enable you to exercise a great deal of control over the kind of associations to be made about your brand
  • You will likely not have to pay heavily to purchase a domain for this kind of brand

Cons

  • Sometimes, because customers might not be able to accrue intellectual meanings to this kind of names, it can put your business at a disadvantage. Customers like to be affiliated with easily understandable names
  • You might also require putting in a great deal of effort in building a recognizable brand that is constantly in the face of your target audience.

Prefixed names

Prefixed brand names are also a list of “new cool”. They are brand names coined up from the union of a real word and a prefix. The appendages are usually of the Latin or Greek origin. Prefixed brand names not only turn out to be cool and innovative, but they also bear the touch of something out of the “status quo”. Common prefixes often used in brand naming include- our-, all-, in-, un-, on-, my-, the-.

Examples of prefixed brand names include; onSwipe, Alltuition, inDinero, CoComment

Pros

  • They are usually really short and attention-catching.
  • These names can be really unique.

Cons

  • The names generated by the addition of prefixes might not be easily relatable. If it is not creatively done, potential customers might find it abstract, which might turn out to be a huge disadvantage.

Suffixed brand names

Just like the description above, suffixed brand names are generated by the addition of common suffixes to real words, to give it a distinctive meaning. The suffixes are also usually from the Greek or Latin origin, or common extension of English words. It’s so easy to generate. You just have to make a list of 10 suffixes and combine them with root words that adequately define your brand. Two letter suffixes can also be used to generate a domain extension that can be classified as something ‘out of the norm”.

Examples of commonly used suffixes are; -ly, -ium, -ify, -i.e, -ia, -am, -ora, -ble, -ous, -ing, -sy, -er, -ism, -ist.

Examples of suffixed brand names are; Posterous, Huntsy, Rootsy, Shopify, Goodsie, Friendster

Pros

  • These kinds of names are usually distinctive and easy to remember.
  • They are usually known to be short-which is a major plus.

Cons

  • Sometimes, these kinds of names sound abstract which could be a source of disadvantage, it’s a known fact that customers prefer to relate with names that are explicit since it makes purchase easy.
  • They could also be limited in variety.

Misspelled names

 Misspelled brand names are names that have been consciously and intentionally misspelled. The names range through a variety. The names can be obviously misspelled, or tweaked; they might have one added letter or one replaced letter-to give the touch of difference. These names are attention-seekers. They stand out because brand names are normally not expected to be misspelled.

Examples of misspelled brand names making waves include; Froot Loops, Dribbble, Todoist, Zvents, Zune, Zoho

Pros

  • These calibres of names are easily identifiable and relatable-which are cardinal features of good brand names
  • The brand identity of misspelled brand names are not sacrificed, it is preserved.

Cons

  • There are so many techniques to employ in misspelling a word. If the brand name is not effectively “misspelled”, it will lose its essence and cause the business a lot.
  • Taking Dribbble for example, it could easily be misspelled with double “bb” instead of its regular triple “bbb” thereby making it non-existent on the search engine, when its services are needed to be sought out.

Acronyms

Brand names consisting of acronyms are also known to be effective. They are names that are made up from the first letters of the words that constitute a longer phrase name. When the letters are pronounced individually, they are known as initials but sometimes, the individual letters make up a word, in this case, we say it’s an “acronym”. These calibres of brand names are known to be enticing since it is a different approach to brand naming.

Examples of brand names include;

FIM -This fully stands for Fox Interactive Media

AOL-which is also known to represent America online.

Pros

  • The use of acronyms as brand names provides you with easy to memorize mnemonics, in the case whereby the overall brand name amounts to very long phrases, this way you can be sure that your brand name will remain fixed in the vocabulary of your target audience.

Cons

  • Sometimes the pronunciation of the initials could be a deterrent to the success of this brand name use. It can happen that the pronunciation of the initials are longer than when written especially when the initials have repetitive consonants with long syllables like the “WWW”.

Reap the Rewards of Your New Business Name

It’s impossible to stress how important having the right business name is. The right business name will be the strongest marketing tool in your toolbox. It will generate interest in your business and help potential customers find you online and other platforms. The perfect business name, combined with your hard work and dedication, is a winning recipe for continued success.