How do you create a powerful business name? You start with (1) homework, (2) brainstorming with friends (preferably with a bottle of wine), (3) remembering what NOT to do and (4) following these 6 best tips on how to name your business. Some of these you might be surprised by! Check this out and share it with a friend before they name their business. And PLEASE – DO consider consulting a professional before you get that new business name registered, licensed, etc. It makes ALL the difference. Hope this helps!
Hi there! I’m Andrea with The ADS Agency, here to bring you the very best in marketing and branding tips as well as business tips for those of you who are personal branders, entrepreneurs or otherwise working on your business. Today’s topic is all about how to go about naming a business in the first place. How do we do that? I mean, where do we even begin? What goes in a name when there’s just so much pressure when you’re naming your business? There is a lot that goes into it. I’m going to attempt to break down the basics that you need to consider when you’re naming your own business, team, whatever it is.
Get your friends together.
The first thing you want to do is get a group of friends together. You guys go out for happy hour or have a couple bottles of wine at the house, sit around with a white board and just brain dump. Get all the ideas out there. Don’t eliminate anything right away. Don’t call anybody’s idea stupid. Just get them all down on paper. Consolidate and pare it all down later. That’s a great place to start.
Homework before you get started:
- The main thing you want to consider: who are you – and can that ever change? So, over time, do you ever expect your name or your offerings to change? Because personal branding or otherwise, know that if you ever have to rebrand (which you should every few years anyway just to stay up to date) – it takes time. It takes money. Start it off right. If you think there’s any room at all that you could ever change in the future (and brands do evolve and change), make sure you’re name allows you the space to do that.
- Do some competitor research as well. Make sure that you’re checking out the landscape out there. What is everyone else calling themselves? How can you be a little fresh sound out there, sound a little refreshing, be a little different without being so different that you’re not memorable or people can’t think of who you are because your name is so out there.
So, lots to this. I’m going to give you a couple of tests you can go through with the names that you’re thinking of and, also, things not do. Then, we’re going to go through five ideas for names.
Test it out.
Test One: Sound. Does it roll off the tongue? Does it sound good to you when you say it? The sound test is big. How you say it is big. You don’t want it to be difficult and hard to say.
Test Two: Short. Is it short? Is it memorable? In terms of the length, today, you have to think about characters. So consider the fact that you’re likely going to have all the big social media sites to be on. You’re gonna be on Facebook, likely, possibly Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn. The most restrictive of those names is Twitter. As of now in 2019, you can have 15 characters in your Twitter handle. That’s different from your actual name. My name could be Andrea D. Smith on Twitter, but your actual letters have
to be 15 characters or less. In my case, my name is @theadsagency, my business’ name. That’s 12 letters, so it meets the Twitter test. Can your name in some way nicely meet the Twitter test? Making your name short also lends to its ability to be memorable for people. You want your name to be beautiful, simple, clean. It’s already hard enough for people to attempt to retain the barrage of info they want to any given day. Don’t make it hard on your customer to remember you.
Test Three: Social Media & Domain. So we a little bit alluded to this in the Short Test with regards to the Twitter name (can your name fit in 15 characters, ideally?), but you want to do the social media and domain test. Ideally, in a perfect world, you want to get the same social media handles across all the platforms you plan to be on. Are you gonna be on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook? Can you get that same little “at” symbol and your name with the exact same spellings across all platforms? If you can, that’s golden. Okay? Hold on to that name. That is the stuff you want to pay attention to. The easier you can make this on people the better. Try to avoid numbers and characters that don’t add value to your name. I’ve come across people who have completely different names between YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. Why? Don’t do that to yourself. Be thoughtful about those names across the board.
If you can meet the sound, short and social media / domain test, you are on a great, wonderful path.
Things to avoid:
Stay away – away – from the long names. Generally, don’t go over two words. Three words and more: you’re starting to be too much. Way too much. You’re starting to be a little mouthful. So try not to do three words plus. Shorter is better in the naming world. Acronyms are generally bad: GKRS Landscapers. LSMP. What is that? Why? That’s so meaningless to people. It may be easy for you as a business owner. You may have thought of yourself as that acronym for years, but I guarantee you it’s very hard for your
prospective customers to remember that – the potential new customers who don’t know you at all. So try not to do acronyms – unless it makes sense.
My own business is The ADS Agency. True enough – technically, that’s an acronym. However, it works because it’s a lovely (and lucky) double entendre and it has meaning to it. So ADS is my initials – Andrea D. Smith – but it also means ads like advertising. That’s in that realm and space of marketing and branding – so people think ads. Sometimes, they say the ads agency, pronouncing A.D.S. like the word – ads; and that’s okay by me. I would prefer they say it The ADS Agency (pronouncing the letters as A.D.S.) – however, it’s sticking in there. It’s a memorable acronym and it’s easy for people to say.
I was lucky with my own personal initials.
Speaking of personal initials, try to stay away from your personal name as your business. Unless you’re a personal brand, and unless you think you’re gonna always only be a personal brand or you’re gonna always be a solopreneur, your name can be quite limiting in your growth. Again, unless you’re a speaker, a celebrity or something like that, likely using just your name will be limiting to you in the future if you want to grow, evolve and expand.
Ideas for names
Naming by What You Do:
You can build a name around what you actually do – which is quite simple and clear. I mean, you can’t get more clear than that.
That’s a name, obviously. It means you’re getting slim fast. So it says what they do
right there in the name.
Titles of books: we’re talking about businesses; however, books often create businesses. These days, books come with their own social media handles and all that. So you want to be very careful about the name of your book – not only that it’s clever and it’s unique but that it’s also eye-catching. It also works social media-wise because you’re building pages, content and audiences around this name.
So, a name I really love for a book (and actually, I’m reading it right now – many of you may know who follow this channel) is The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Love that book. The 4-Hour Workweek. It says exactly what it does. Kind of a crazy name but it does the job in terms of piquing your interest enough to pick it up and say What? That’s impossible. You’re gonna turn the page and flip it over. So, that’s a buildable name. You can build communities around that name. So considering what you do is a great way to think about how to name a business.
So there’s what you do.
Naming by the Problem You Solve:
So what kind of problem are you solving? Never Late Barber, for example. If you had that business, that’s a business that says “Okay, we know you hate your barber to be late. So that’s never going to be us!” That’s a business that’s in tune with their audience because they’re saying we know one of the number one complaints in a barber shop business is, oftentimes, a barber can be late getting around to your appointment because they’re backed up with several other heads to cut. That’s a serious and significant pain point for a lot of people, so you could name the business Never Late Barber. The value proposition becomes very clear there.
One of my most fun ones – I really like this one – is pairing words together. This is where some of that cleverness comes into names. Portmanteau means the pairing of words.
Nair (we wear short shorts)
Nair is the combining of two words: no (like never or no more) + hair. No + hair = Nair.
Bandage + first aid. That’s even become the name of a category. People often think “can you hand me a bandaid?” just like they say “Google that.” You know you’ve made it when your name becomes a verb!
When Pinterest first came out I was like God, that’s so clever. Ah, that’s so great! Obviously, it’s the idea of pinning ideas to boards – things that you like, being able to categorize them by your interest. pInterest is so lovely and clever. I love it.
Another super fun one is misspellings.
They wanted “flicker” – like how you actually spell it, but it wasn’t available. So they dropped out the E and it’s just now Flickr as we know,
One of my favorite companies ever:
Spanx is such a genius, brilliant name. Genius. And brilliant. Because you know what Spanx are: they’re slimming shape wear, making everything nice and smooth. You don’t have panty lines and you’re slimming your waist. But the name is a little bit of a naughty thing because it’s “spanks” really. But it’s such a cool association word and the “K” sound is awesome. Spanx founder, Sara Blakely, notetd that comedians often use that sound because it’s funny. It makes people laugh. So that’s so clever to use the word spanks but not spell it in the traditional way. It probably was taken anyway as a domain name. So a lot of people do this if a name’s already taken: take a common word like spanks, drop off the KS make it an X. There’s all kinds of ways you could do that. Change out a CK for a Q and Click becomes Cliq. Black becomes Blaq or Blaque. All kinds of different little ways you can misspell.
*Important note: There is an issue with misspelling. Though it can be very cute, just know you’re gonna have a real hard time in the beginning because people are gonna misspell it. They’re gonna be thinking of it in the traditional way that it’s spelled. You’re gonna need some time and investment to get it to stick. Unless you have plenty of investor money to pour into branding, you probably do not want to go this route. You can own a common word like apple, but that takes so much time to pour meaning behind and create the brand behind that.
Made up names
Some times people completely make up names like Ikea and Oreo. Those are names we know now, but they were meaningless – utterly, utterly meaningless – when those companies first started. Don’t do funny, weird, made up names that has no
meaning in the beginning, because unless you have Oreo, Apple, and Coke money, you might want to stick with something that’s a little more meaningful to people.
A word about taglines
Taglines are helpful in that regard. So if you happen to come up with a name that’s gonna be a little harder for people to understand, a tagline can come in and help give a little more meaning to what you do.
Evoke a feeling
Consider evoking a feeling with your company name. Say your brand is a spa. Or, say you’re in a space that’s often hectic, crazy. You’re solving some problem on traffic or whatever, something that gives people a lot of anxiety, and you want to do the opposite of that because that’s what people want – the opposite of that problem. So they’re wanting peace and calm. You could build a name around the word zen. The brand “ZenDesk” is a lovely portmanteau and has so many lovely iterations behind it you can use in your messaging.
Using the same first letter of names. For example, if you have two words that start with A (Apple Arbor) or two words that start with Z (Zaney Zoo), two words that start with P (Party Places).
The same name spelled forwards and backwards.
Involve an expert from the beginning
The best way to go is to involve an expert from the beginning to help you with your name. You might think the idea for a name you came up with is super cool, so genius and clever and just the most awesome thing since sliced bread. I’ve seen people try to make names based off of inside jokes between them and their best friend that only they know. It’s just so bad. It just doesn’t ring well with any one. Your audience doesn’t get it. Your core people don’t get it. Stop making bad names out there.
So have fun with this, but just also be clever. Be considerate about your future with your name. Make sure it gives room for growth, because you can start off with your offerings, vision and direction right now and it can vastly change in the future, so you want to be prepared to allow space for your brand to evolve. Remember the tests: sound, short and social media. That’s a lovely alliteration in and of itself. 🙂 Perfect.
If you have any other ideas for videos, I’d love to hear it. Put it in the comments below. Also, if this is your first time here, thanks so much for being here and please consider subscribing to our YouTube Channel or Podcast. Cheers and see you again soon!
Andrea D. Smith
The ADS Agency
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