Whether it is printed on a storefront, on a business card or on your badge at a trade show; the name of your business will make an important first impression-even more than your clothes or shoes! A creative business name can help you make an ‘emotional connection’ with your customers. Customers do not fall in love with names created using scientific processes, linguistic voodoo or simply by mangling the alphabet. Such names simply cannot resonate with potential clients. So if you are looking to come up with creative business names that will touch a chord, then below are some important tips that can help you generate creative, memorable and unique business name ideas.
1. Use the SMILE methodology of naming
SMILE stands for:
- Suggestive – evokes an immediate idea about what your business is about
- Meaningful – resonates with your clientele
- Imagery – uses visual evocative so client can easily associate with it and memorize it
- Lends – lends itself a theme
- Emotional – touches people
2. Avoid ‘deadly sins’ of naming
When looking for company name suggestion with meaning, it is essential that you avoid the following errors:
- Changing the spelling of a well known word so it looks like a typo.
- Using copycat techniques – choosing a name similar to a competitor name
- Selecting a restrictive name that limits future growth.
- Choosing a name that is annoying – either so difficult to memorize or pronounce that it frustrates customers
- Only has an personal significance-is flat, uninspired or makes sense only to insiders
3. Hire a business naming consultant
You might not believe it but there are professionals who do this for a living. They specialize in brand identity design and many of these professionals work with large and small companies to help come up with product names etc. These days, you can easily hire freelancers to help you name your business and come up with a good business name list. Understand that these professionals take this job very seriously. It is not something they scribble on a coffee table napkin; there is a method behind the madness and these experts use science to come up with unique and creative business name ideas. SO only go for this method if you have the budget for it.
4. Know different types of brand names
Business names fall in three distinct categories:
- Descriptive names – These work best when you already have a parent brand or when you are trying to reach B2B customers that know what your business is about. Descriptive names are ideal for products with low marketing budgets and short lifecycles. Examples include: Food.com, Hotels.com etc.
- Suggestive names – As the word describes, suggestive names suggest a bit about the features and benefits of the service or product you are selling. They tend to be more descriptive and hence more memorable. The reason why suggestive names are more popular as far as brand names are concerned is because of the fact that they are more evocative and communicative while also being the middle ground in naming a business. Facebook, Amazon, and FitBit are some examples of suggestive names.
- Arbitrary and fanciful names – These names do not mean anything. They therefore do not imply or describe the service or product in question. Arbitrary names may be made using meaningful words (Virgin, Orange) or even words that do not mean anything (Kodak, Exxon).
5. Use words from different languages
A good business names’ list can also include words from various foreign languages. This is a good approach to take when your clientele also includes non-English speaking people. Many non-English words are rather appealing to the masses (Ola, Uber) etc. Some brands have also used great non-English words which are very close to sound/pronunciation and meaning of English words. Examples include Absolut Vodka. Ragu® (a company that makes pasta sauces) is another great brand-the word ragu in Italian means a sauce made with tomatoes, onions, meat and red wine etc.
6. Use acronyms and initials
Another great naming idea for a company is to abbreviate the first letters of each word of your business tagline or business’s core philosophy. You can also create meaningful spellings from acronyms and initials. IBM is an example of such names, and so is BMW. A business name with acronyms and initials can also expand to some meaningful words that convey important information to customers and users. FEDEx, Cisco are great examples of truncated meaningful words.
7. What are you naming?
Often, naming a company or a business is more straightforward as compared to naming a new product. You need to take many things into account when naming a brand or a sub brand such as whether the product will become a suite of products in the future or if it is a totally new product.
8. Where will the name be used?
When faced with the question of “how do I choose a business name?”, you must also take into account the name’s marketing contexts. Think about where all the name will be in use including brochures, print ads, website, social media etc.
9. Think about competitors
Often you might think of using meaningful brand or company name that has suggestive meaning. But thinking on those lines means that your competitors may have already thought about it. For example, a makeup artist might think about names like ‘Makeovers by ABC’; but a simple search on Facebook or Instagram will show him/her that this name may be already taken. It pays to list down all your competitors and the names they are using. This exercise will help you discern naming patterns and also help you avoid same old names. It will also help you think outside the box and spot opportunities to be different than your competitors. This exercise will especially come in handy when reviewing trademarks for potential conflicts.
10. Keep a focus on target audience
Who are you serving? Are they Fortune 500 companies or housewives? The more focus you place on your target audience, the clearer your focus would be when generating business name ideas list. It is also important to give top priority to the things your audience cares about instead of focusing on 5-10 different things ‘you’ care about. Often, brands focus on several things at once and they end up standing for nothing in particular.
11. Implied meaning
Is there one trait about your service or product that you wish to convey to your audience? Perhaps your service is very accurate or fast. May be your product has a particular shape. So it is good to include several options in your creative business names list about naming ideas that are relevant to your company’s values and your audience.
12. Pay attention to the tone and construction of the name
Some words have forceful syllables that portray a strong personality and energy. Then there are words like Hulu( which is softer) or Wii (which sounds like ‘We’ and indicates fun, team/togetherness and playfulness). You can also use a combination of two words in which one word conveys a more significant meaning that the other. Example: Evernote, DropBox etc.
13. A few dos & don’ts
Finally here are some guidelines in the form of Dos and Don’ts when choosing creative company name with meaning:
- Do not rush. The process of coming up with a good business names’ list can easily take up to 4-6 weeks.
- Do come up with at least 5-10 different names so that you have options left should the name of your choice be already taken. So play the field.
- Don’t expect the name to tell the entire story.
- Do pay attention to domain name considerations for marketing the name as a dot com. However, do not get overly hung up on it; unless your sales are generated only by your website or online presence.
- O for Oprah and O Organics are both doing very well. Do note that many brand names co-exist happily.
- Would ‘Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web’ have had the same impact as Yahoo!? Don’t just opt for the usual and ordinary.
- Perhaps a name might remind you of a person you aren’t overly fond of. Don’t let your personal associations with the name get in the way of selecting a good name.
- Understand that no name has it all. A name may be great otherwise but it might not be overly original or it may not be available as a dot com domain name. Don’t be a perfectionist.
Check out this business name generator for free name ideas.