What’s In A Name? – Getting it right when naming your business

I recently worked with two new clients who were looking for branding help. The first one was a new startup looking for overall branding and the other, an established small business needing to revamp their brand.

I cannot stress enough the importance of choosing the right name for your brand / business. It sets the tone for the image you want to give, what kind of customers you want to attract and is basically the first step in working on the overall branding of your company. Basically, you don’t want to end up with a trash name which can bring a negative perception of your brand.

I won’t lie to you and tell you that it’s easy to get to a name because it isn’t. In order to start the process, I usually sit down with my clients and ask them some key questions: What does your business stand for, what are its core values? What is your vision? What are you looking to offer / sell? To whom? Who are your potential clients (and don’t tell me everyone because that’s impossible)? What industry will this business be in? Is this a local, national or international business? These are some of the many questions I ask my clients in the process.

If you’re doing it alone without the help of an agency, here are some steps that will help you in naming your business:

What does the name mean?

Yo, it’s got to sound good and mean something. The worst is a generic name for a business that no one understands and means absolutely nothing. I had this issue with one of my new clients, I stressed the importance of not going with the name they had chosen because it actually meant NOTHING. Nothing in the industry they were in or to attract the high level clientele they were going for. First things first, when thinking of a name for your business, what does it mean? Does it have some historical or current significance? How does it sound when you’re saying it out loud? When you see it visually or when you read it, what kind of sentiment does it convey?

Brainstorm, baby

If you know what you’re trying to convey, it’s time to brainstorm. It took me about 60 hours to come up with Deux Creative Agency, the name of my business. It doesn’t come automatically and you’ve got to be willing to do the work and be patient.

Brainstorming means taking the time to think about what this business is all about: what are your services, who is your competition, what makes your business different? What is the value proposition of this said business?

From that, you’ll come up with a list and test it out on people. I asked my most trusted family and friends as well as people in the industry I worked in when I was going through this process for my business. You don’t need to ask everybody and their mamas but you do need to test it out, let people ask you questions like why you chose that name and what it means. If it doesn’t resonate with anyone, you must go back to the drawing board.

How do I spell that again?

When you think of a name, people should be able to pronounce it when they see it printed. For example, say you called your business 2ForU (please don’t), it’s super confusing. When people are searching for this name, is it Two for you or 2 4 U? It shouldn’t be an issue to find you or to know how to spell the name of your business, there’s beauty in simplicity.

Did you do your homework?

Have you checked if anyone else has registered this name? That can can easily be done with a Google search. Depending on where you live, you’ll probably will have to pay for a name search through a online registry to see if anyone else is already operating other the same name in your country. Be aware and brainstorm to see if your name could ever backfire on you: let’s say it rhymes with something bad, can be turned into an insult, can be taken the wrong way, etc. — especially on the Internet today; you don’t want your brand becoming a meme. The same way you have to be careful when naming a child, you should consider all the ways your brand name might be stretched and caricatured — like the diet candy called AYDS, which sounds too much like AIDS.

It’s not easy but a name is critical in telling a brand a story.

Have you named or renamed your business? What were the steps that helped you?




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