After dedicating so much of your time and energy to brainstorming name possibilities and narrowing your list down to just one name, you believe you’ve finally found the perfect business name. Or, at least, you think this name might be perfect.
When coming up with a name for your business, you need to get out of your head as the business owner and think beyond your own ideas. Don’t get us wrong — it’s a really good sign if you like the name and it’s even better if your team approves, but when all is said and done, it is most important that your target audience is interested in your brand name.If your startup name fails to create enough buzz and relevance with your potential customers or clients, all of the resources you dedicated to your business name will have been for nothing.
How to Come Up with a Business Name
Our fundamental guide for coming up with a business name will help you get the most out of the time you put into finding the perfect name for your business.
1. Come Up with a Bunch of Great Names
This is the time for you to get as creative as possible. You can start by writing down every business name idea you can think of regardless of whether you think it will be a good fit for your specific business or not.
Remember that a good name should be easy to say and spell but impossible to forget. While brainstorming names, you may find it helpful to perform a quick search to double-check that there’s a suitable URL available for your business name ideas. This quick step will keep you from falling in love with a name before discovering that it is already in use or the domain is way too expensive for your budget.
2. Create a Shortlist
Once you have compiled a bunch of different names, you can start crossing the names that aren't a good fit off of your list. The point of this step is to narrow your options down to the top four or five possible names for your startup.
Consider not only what you as the entrepreneur think will work for your business, but also what your target audience will find interesting and appealing. Not all audiences respond to names in the same way. For example, millennials may not prefer a classic, well-known brand name in the same way that baby boomers would.
3. Get Feedback from Your Target Audience
After you have compiled a great shortlist of possible brand names, bring in some fresh opinions. If you don’t know who your target audience is, start to define your audience based on factors like gender, age, hobbies, interests, and location. When you ask your target audience questions about your name, be sure to give them enough context so that they make their decision in light of your business. Make sure to give enough time for them to really think about the question. Your audience needs to pause before they answer so they can consider your name in the specific context of your brand.
How do you get specific feedback? Here are a few sample questions that you can use:
Which one of these millennial clothing lines are you most likely to want to learn about?
Which one of these athleisure clothing brands are you most likely to try?
These questions are great examples because they make your target audience slow down and really think about your brand in a fixed context. You can also try asking questions about value or benefit propositions. For example:
Which one of these names would be the best fit for a company that allows millennials to share money in a truly global and revolutionary way? (a la Venmo)
Which of these grocery store names do you feel most embodies prestige and trust?
4. Analyze Your Results
Finally, the last step in the audience testing process is to analyze your results and decide which name will be the most successful for your specific brand. The most important part of this step is that you understand your audience’s thoughts. Time and time again, in many of the name tests that Squadhelp has performed with our clients, we find that the name the entrepreneur thought would do the best actually performed terribly with their target audience. This is the exact reason why audience testing is such an imperative part of the naming process, it helps you see what your audience will respond to.
However, if you are disheartened by the results of the audience testing, don’t worry. Audience testing is a great way to get additional perspective on what could work for your business but you don’t have to commit to the results. There are numerous factors that can’t be tested for, such as symbolic meaning, story elements, and deep emotional slants — but it's important to remember these when a name performs poorly.
What's the BEST Way to Pick a Name?
Although we wish there was, there simply isn’t a perfect testing method that will provide you with a clear, exact answer as to whether or not your chosen name will succeed for your business. However, audience testing is a great step in your validation process and can help give you direction. It can be beneficial to choose a business name that isn’t cringe-y or embarrassing because it will keep you from losing potential customers.
Audience testing is not a guaranteed method of picking a name, but it's a really solid method to get out of your own head and see how your audience will respond to your ideas. Even though you can’t foresee the future of your business, audience testing will help you see if your values and ideas align with your target audience. Collecting feedback will help give you peace of mind and confidence while you go through the naming process.
The Next Steps
Once you're got a great business name, you'll need someone to help you hire. That's where Artisan Talent comes in. Find out how they can help find someone who'll want to put that new name on their resume.
About the Author
Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Inc 500 company Squadhelp.com, the world's #1 naming platform, with nearly 20,000 customers from the smallest startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these cool company names.
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