Ten steps to come up with a compelling business name (checklist included)

Are you struggling to come up with a memorable business name? Look no further! We've got you covered with these ten steps to help you develop a winning brand name.

First, understand your brand identity and brainstorm creatively with your team. Consider your target audience, conduct a competitive analysis, and ensure legal availability. Keep the name simple, memorable, and easy to pronounce and spell. Think long-term viability and seek feedback from colleagues, friends, and potential clients.

Remember to check off our comprehensive checklist, which includes relevance, uniqueness, memorability, pronounceability, legal availability, and scalability.

Finally, choose from six common types of business names, including descriptive, invented, compound, blended, acronyms, and founder's names.

By following these steps, you'll be on your way to developing a compelling and memorable name for your venture. This is a very short summary of our article, however if you're really serious about crafting a great business name, we do recommend checking further our guide.

Main Steps for Coming Up with a Business Name:

Naming a business is a crucial part of branding and should be approached strategically.

Here are the ten steps to help you develop a winning business name.

1.   Understand Your Brand: 

Before you start brainstorming, deeply understand your brand identity. Your name should reflect what your brand stands for and resonate with these core elements.

Consider your business's core values, mission, and unique selling points. What these elements mean?

  • Mission: A mission statement concisely summarizes an organization’s purpose, goals, and values. It describes why the organization exists, what it does, and how it does it. A mission statement helps to guide the organization’s actions and decisions and communicate its identity to its stakeholders. For example, Microsoft’s mission statement is: “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” 
  • Vision: A vision statement is an inspirational and unambiguous picture of an organization’s desired future state. It describes what the organization hopes to achieve in the long term and how it will positively impact the world. A vision statement helps to motivate the organization’s members and align them toward a common direction. For example, Shopify’s vision statement is: “To make commerce better for everyone.” 
  • Core values: Core values are the fundamental convictions and ideals an organization upholds and lives by. They reflect the organization’s culture, ethics, and identity. Core values help shape the organization’s behavior and actions and define what it stands for and will not tolerate. For example, some of HubSpot’s core values are: “Solve for the customer,” “Grow better,” and “Embrace change.”
  • Unique selling points: Unique selling points represent the distinctive features or benefits an organization offers to its customers and differentiate it from its competitors. They are the reasons why customers should choose the organization’s products or services over others. Unique selling points help to attract and retain customers and establish a competitive edge for the company. For example, some of Nike’s unique selling points are: “Innovation,” “Quality,” and “Personalization”.

2.   Brainstorm Creatively: 

Encourage a brainstorming session where, together with your coworkers, you generate a wide variety of ideas without judgment. Consider the emotions, concepts, and ideas you want your business to convey.

Encourage your team to generate ideas freely, without judgment. No idea is too wild at this stage.

If you don't have a big team, you might use some tools to help you:

  • A keyword generator
  • A prompt to a GenAi tool
  • Mythology
  • Foreign words
  • Latin
  • The dictionary and thesaurus
  • Read books/magazines/literature in your field.

3.   Consider Your Audience: 

Think about your target audience. Will the name resonate with them? Does it convey the right message?

Think about their preferences, values, and the emotions you want to evoke.

4.   Competitive Analysis: 

Research your industry and competitors to see what names are already in use. Understanding what's already out there will help you differentiate your business. You want a name that stands out and avoids confusion with existing businesses.

5.   Legal Availability: 

Check for trademark conflicts and ensure the name you choose is legally available. This action is essential to prevent future legal problems from being used by another business in your industry.

Think about the following:

  • legal requirements, 
  • trademark search, 
  • domain availability, 
  • social media availability.

6.   Simplicity and Memorability: 

Keep the name simple and easy to remember. A memorable name is more likely to stick with your audience. Complicated or overly long names can be a barrier to customer recall. A great business name is A memorable business name that is simple to recall. It ought to be effortless to say and difficult to forget. Simplicity and distinctiveness go a long way.

Here are some memorable ideas inspired by the Greek mythology: 

  • Hermes -> god of trade, fertility, sleep, language, travel, and (worryingly) thieves.
  • Nike ->  the goddess of victory.
  • ASUS -> is derived from Pegasus, the winged horse from Greek mythology.

7. Keep it Short and Sweet: 

Shorter names are often more memorable and versatile for branding. When it's short, it feels good, stimulates positive emotions, and is easy to remember. Experts try to go with names with only one word or two syllables.

For example:

  • Stripe
  • PayPal
  • BluePill
  • ConstantContact

8.   Pronunciation and Spelling: 

Ensure your name is easy to pronounce and spell. It can hinder your presence and word-of-mouth recommendations if people can't say or type it correctly. Particularly if your company will have an internet presence, ensuring easy spelling for your brand is extra important. Consider such rules, especially when you have an e-commerce business, web software, or mobile app.

8.   Long-term Viability: 

Think about your business's future. A good name should be scalable, relevant, and not pigeonhole your brand into one specific product or service. Your business name should be scalable and relevant as your business grows or diversifies. Think long-term and envisage how your brand will fare with new products or services.

10.   Feedback and Testing: 

Seek input from colleagues, friends, and even possible clients. Their opinions might offer insightful information and assistance to identify any issues you might have overlooked. 

These ten steps will help you develop a compelling and memorable name for your venture.


Checklist for Naming Your Business

A well-chosen business name is not just a label; it's a critical element of your brand's identity. It should represent your values, connect with your prospects, and differentiate from your competition. With a systematic approach and a checklist, you can navigate the creative process and create a name that truly represents your business.

1.   Relevance: 

Ensure the name aligns with your brand, mission, and target audience. A relevant name tells customers what your business is about.

2.   Uniqueness: 

Your name should be distinct from competitors. It should not create confusion or lead to mistaken identity.

3.   Memorability: 

A memorable name is easier for customers to recall and share. It becomes a valuable part of your branding.

4.   Pronounceability: 

If people can't say your name, they can't recommend your business to others. It should roll off the tongue.

5.   Legal Availability: 

Always check for trademark conflicts and ensure the name is legally available for use.

6.   Scalability: 

Think about the growth potential. A name should accommodate diversification and expansion without limiting your brand's potential.

Six Common Types of Business Names:

If you're still looking for inspiration about how to name your organization, then you can reflect from the following common types of business names, including descriptive, invented, compound, blended, acronyms, and founder's names. We will expand into each one of them with clear examples and ways these brand types become alive.

1.   Descriptive Names: 

These names describe what your business does, making it immediately clear to customers.

For here are some common descriptive business name examples:

  • Whole Foods Market
  • Dell Computers
  • Pizza Hut
  • Cartoon Network
  • Dunkin' Donuts
  • Wash&Go
  • Booking.com

2.   Invented Names: 

Invented names are unique and often coined words without prior associations.

Here are some additonal examples of made up business names:

  • Google
  • Yahoo
  • Kindle
  • Skype
  • Veolia

3. Founder's Names:

Some businesses are named after their founders.

When reflecting about founder's names, here are some brands for sure you're knowledgeable about that have started from the founder's name:

  • Ford - Henry Ford
  • McDonald's - Richard and Maurice McDonald
  • Dyson - James Dyson
  • Versace - Gianni Versace
  • Disney - Walt Disney
  • Adidas– Adi Dassler

4.   Acronyms:

Acronyms are formed from the initials of a longer name or a phrase.

Examples of business names generated from acronyms and abbreviations:

  • IBM - International Business Machines.
  • GE - General Electric
  • HP - Hewlett Packard
  • FedEx - Federal Express
  • BMW - Bavarian Motor Works
  • UPS - United Parcel Service
  • SAP - Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing
  • KFC - Kentucky Fried Chicken

5.   Metaphorical Names:

These names use metaphor or symbolism to convey the essence of your business.

Consider these examples of methapirical names:

  • Apple
  • Amazon 
  • Jaguar
  • Casper
  • Monster
  • Oracle
  • Pandora
  • Target
  • Tinder
  • Mars
  • Uber

6.   Hybrid Names or Compound Words:

Hybrid names combine words or parts of words to create a new name.

Examples of compound business names include:

  • Microsoft - a well-known example, combining microcomputers and software.
  • Netflix - a combination of internet and flicks
  • Instagram - a mix of instant camera and "telegram.
  • Spotify - spotting new music
  • FitBit - getting fit and bits of data.
  • Facebook - Remember the book of faces
  • YouTube - You and Tube (old television)
  • Mastercard - The name "Mastercard" is a portmanteau of "master" and "card," and it was chosen to emphasize the card's role as the primary means of payment (master) and its card-like form (card).

We could also have added misspelled names like Reddit or Lyft; however, we would skip this for now.

Remember, the right name can be a powerful asset for your business. It's worth the time and effort to develop a name that embodies your brand and resonates with your customers.

How to Name a Business Officially?

To officially name a business, follow these steps:

1.   Choose a Legal Structure: 

Choose your company's legal structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC, corporation). This may impact naming requirements.

2.   Check Legal Requirements: 

Verify your jurisdiction's naming regulations and requirements. Each location may have specific rules about what names are allowed for businesses.

3.   Trademark Search: 

Perform a comprehensive trademark search to ensure your chosen name is not already trademarked. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database is one resource you can use.

4.   Register Your Business: 

Register your business name with the appropriate government agency, such as the state's Secretary of State office. This step formalizes your business's legal name.

5.   Consider Domain Availability: 

Check the availability of the domain name associated with your business. An online presence is crucial, and having a matching domain name is highly beneficial.

Business Naming Mistakes to Avoid:

When it comes to naming a business, there are several key considerations to keep in mind to ensure your business name is not only memorable but also effective in building your brand. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when naming a business:

  • Complex and Hard-to-Spell Names: Avoid overly complicated or difficult-to-spell names. Your business name should be easy to remember and type into a search engine. A complicated name can lead to misspellings, making it difficult for prospective clients to locate you online.
  • Obscure or Unrelated Names: A business name should reflect your core products, services, or values. Using a name that is unrelated or too obscure can confuse potential customers. Your name must communicate something about what your business does or what it stands for.
  • Trademark and Domain Availability: Before getting too attached to a name, make sure it's available as a domain name and won't infringe on any trademarks. Rebranding can be expensive and time-consuming due to legal issues, so do your due diligence in this regard.
  • Long and Complicated Names: Long business names can be challenging to remember and aren't ideal for branding. Aim for a name that is short and snappy. Think about well-known brands like Apple or Google; their simplicity makes them easy to recall.
  • Trendy or Superfluous Words: While using trendy or buzzwords in your business name may be tempting, be cautious about their longevity. What's trendy today may be outdated in a few years. Aim for a timeless name that can grow with your business.
  • Geographic Limitations: Using a location-specific name can be limiting if you plan to expand or relocate in the future. Consider a name that can transcend geographic boundaries unless your business is exclusively local.
  • Negative or Offensive Connotations: Avoid names that may have negative or offensive connotations in any language or culture. You want your business to be appealing and inoffensive to a wide range of potential customers.
  • Overused Industry Jargon: Using generic industry terms or clichés can make your business name blend in rather than stand out. Strive for originality and creativity to set yourself apart from the competition.
  • Difficult Pronunciations: A business name that's hard to pronounce can be a barrier to word-of-mouth marketing. If people can't easily say your name, they might not recommend your business to others.
  • Lack of Flexibility: Choose a name that allows for future growth and evolution. As your business expands and diversifies, your name should still be relevant. Avoid pigeonholing yourself with a name that's too niche or specific.

In conclusion, a well-chosen business name is critical to your branding and marketing strategy. It should be unique, memorable, and reflective of your business's core values and offerings. By avoiding the common pitfalls mentioned above, you can increase your chances of developing a brand name for your company that stands out in your sector and leaves a lasting impression on your target market.


What makes a good business name?

According to Rob Meyerson, a professional "namer" for 15 years, there are three key factors to consider when creating a brand name:

  1. Strategic: Does the name elicit the appropriate emotions and provide the desired message? Is it flexible enough to adapt to anticipated changes in the brand? When compared to the names of rival companies, would it be distinctive?
  2. Creative: Does the name catch people's attention and stick in their minds? Does it sound good, or is it fun to hear and say? Is it visually appealing?
  3. Technical: Is the potential name legally available? Picking this name will likely result in legal problems? Does it avoid inappropriate meanings or associations in relevant languages? And will it prevent confusion or mispronunciation?

Source: Rob Meyerson, How Brands Are Built

Key Takeaways for Business Naming:

  • Relevance: Ensure the name aligns with your brand identity, mission, and target audience. A relevant name immediately communicates what your business is about.
  • Uniqueness: Your name should be distinctive and set you apart from competitors. Avoid creating confusion or being easily mistaken for another business.
  • Memorability: A memorable name is easier for customers to recall and share. It becomes a powerful element of your branding.
  • Pronounceability: If people can't say your name correctly, it hinders word-of-mouth recommendations. Choose a name that's easy to pronounce and spell.
  • Legal Compliance: Always check for trademark conflicts and ensure the name is legally available for use. Legal issues can be costly and disruptive.
  • Scalability: Consider your business's potential for growth and diversification. A name should be flexible enough to accommodate changes and expansions.

Naming your business is a significant decision that can greatly influence your brand's success. It's more than just a label; it's a crucial part of your brand's identity. A systematic approach to naming ensures that your business's name truly represents what you stand for and resonates with your target audience.

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