Have fun naming a business, but be sensible about it
By April Blake
The thought process behind naming a business should be taken more seriously than it is, whether it is a creative name or as simple as putting the business owner’s last name on the business. There are plenty of examples of businesses with names that make you stop and wonder if anyone put any thought into it at all. Not all businesses with bad names are done in poor taste though, sometimes it’s the result of a snap decision. But there are things that a person who needs to name a business can keep in mind to make sure their big idea doesn’t sound like a big joke to everyone else.
Mind Map It
Start by thinking of every possible word that could be associated with your business. Use a whiteboard or pad of paper and think of everything. No words are off limits, just write them down and put thought into it later. Do this over a few hours or a few days, and use a thesaurus as needed. You may be surprised what words come up during the course of this exercise!
Once you have a lot of words to consider, cross off ones that are probably not going to work. Anything that’s too slang-like, potentially offensive or vulgar, or that wouldn’t make sense to the general population should be removed from this list. Any other words that are hard to pronounce, spell, or that might be confusing to potential customers should be removed as well. Use another piece of paper or area on a white board to begin combining words and phrases.
With a few options in hand, now is the time to see what others thought of first. Prior to the internet, it didn’t really matter if there were unrelated businesses bearing the same name in different parts of the country, but with the internet’s global reach, she who snags the social media handles first wins. With each potential business name, check the availability of the URL — not just the .com, but .net and any other versions in which you may be interested.
Do the same thing with handles on any social media platforms you’re interested in. If something isn’t available, try variations on the name. For example, if @ABCompany is taken on Instagram, try ABCo or ABandCompany perhaps. You may end up veering off onto a completely different path than the one you began on, but social media handles and URLs that closely match the company name are important for brand identity in this increasingly online world. Also, try adding geographic clues in your handle if your business is local, i.e., @ABCompanySC. This can help audiences determine if they are a potential customer if your business is location-based.
Once you’ve settled on one or a few options, do some final research. Ask friends and family what they think about the name, and if they see any negative implications in using it, or if it sounds like an unintended joke. Make sure to ask a diverse range of people — there may be a cultural issue with a word or phrase that someone outside of your ethnicity or age range may be able to point out. Search the business name on Google, and even use websites like Urban Dictionary to cross reference your business name.
Naming a business is a fun prospect, but one that should still be taken seriously. Think of a socially sound business name as an investment in your future time, keeping you from having to change it later and deal with any fallout that could occur from choosing something that comes across as insensitive or upsetting. With these exercises and precautions, you should be set up for success in your business name and beyond.