Finding the Right Business Name with these Checks
Anyone founding a company or developing a new product quickly realizes that finding a name for the "baby" is not at all easy. The name has to be able to do a lot: conveying the right message, sounding good, being easy to remember and, best of all, being internationally understandable. And even if you have found a good name, it is far from certain that you can really use it. And, oh, what about the domain? With our 10-point company naming checklist, you're sure to get through the naming jungle.
Check 1: The Concept
At the beginning of every naming process stands the concept or briefing. Of course, you have in mind what your company should do or which product you want to develop. But have you ever clearly thought about and put on paper what the real advantages of your service or company are? What exactly distinguishes it from competing offers? What is the most important thing for you that the name should convey?
Tip: Search for individual properties if possible. Innovative and high-quality are great adjectives, but they are too unspecific and are used by many. So better think about: what exactly is it that makes your offer innovative or high-quality?
Check 2: Your Competitors' Names
Generate a list with names of your competitor's company and product names. If you know what your competitors are called, you can distinguish yourself with a different and new kind of name. If, for example, many descriptive names are used (e.g. in the software industry "cloud" is a frequent part of names) or do the names sound similar in some other way? Then try a different style of name.
Example: The company SW-Rent is a construction equipment rental service and has recently changed its name to Rockbird. The term "Rock" stands for the heavy material that is moved and "bird" for the ease with which fleet management can be handled. There has never been such a name in the construction equipment rental industry and the attention is accordingly high.
Check 3: Trends
Trendy names sound particularly cool and tempt you to jump on the trend. Spotify and Twitter sound great? Remember that trends are passing by again and such names are perhaps only so cool because the respective companies are currently very successful. If you're not the first and most successful of this naming trend, you'll quickly end up in the middle of a pool of similar, interchangeable names.
Example: There are hundreds of start-ups that have jumped on the Spotify trend and call themselves Lockify, Crowdify or Gamify. The better strategy is to come up with your own name direction instead of just imitating others.
Check 4: Tech Stuff
Also, do be careful with technical terms in names, because nothing changes more quickly than technology. Just think of the development of VHS to DVD to Blue-Ray to Video-On-Demand to Streaming... whatever's next?? Someone who founded a "DVD Rental 24" just a few years ago looks pretty old with it today. Such restrictions should be avoided and the name should be kept open for further technical developments and innovations in the future.
Check 5: The Naming
The development of the actual name is a creative process, which of course cannot be completely depicted here in such a short time. However, a few remarks for individual entrepreneurs and company founders should be mentioned here: The own name seems to be practical for start-ups because it is very obvious and one usually does not have to do extensive trademark searches (unless one is called Henry Ford and offers engineering services). But what does an "Anne Smith Consulting" do if a partner joins later? Or if the company is sold once? Furthermore, one should keep in mind that customers usually ask for the boss and do not like to be advised by someone else if the company bears the name of the owner. With person-neutral names, these problems are eliminated.
Beware also of arbitrary abbreviations. This also seems to be a simple method to find a name at first. Anne Smith Consulting would then be ASC GmbH. It can be done but is extremely replaceable if you are not a brand that has been built up over decades, such as BMW or IBM. ASC could also stand for Arlington Sailing Community, Advanced Sales Coaching or African Society Canada. You just don't know what the letters stand for, you always have to explain it.
Even as a sole proprietor or freelancer, you may choose a fantasy name as a business name, provided that you always include your own first and last name on letterhead, website and business correspondence. So there are no limits to your fantasy! If you are looking for a sonorous and expressive name that has nothing to do with your own name, you are well provided for the future and leave all paths open that the company might take one day.
Well, here we go! Pick up the concept (see above) and start to brainstorm wildly. It is helpful to clarify a few questions about the name in advance. Which names (from the industry or from other areas) do I like? Which languages are possible? What should the name sound like? Serious? Classical? New? Extraordinary? Crass? Which words should be avoided?
To develop a name, you can also form a small team – even if the participants do not know the topic very well. Each person has different thoughts and experiences and it is amazing how many different associations on the same topic arise in several minds.
Tip: Try out creative name generators and get inspired. The Namerobot Toolbox offers a variety of possibilities to come up with a unique and fitting business name.
Check 6: The Favourites
Check 7: Other Languages
If you want to operate internationally, you should check whether the name also works in other languages and that it does not mean anything negative. You can subject the name to a professional linguistic check or ask native speakers. A quick overview is also provided by the suggestions of Google "Did you mean" or those of a good online encyclopedia like dict.cc.
Check 8: Regulations
For most of them this might be irrelevant, but depending on the industry, there are different regulations to be observed which may be relevant for naming: e.g. Pharmaceutical Law or designations of origin – e.g. the name Champagne can legally only be used for sparkling wines from the Champagne wine-growing area. Everything else is a "sparkling wine" of some sort or another. Be sure to check for this kind of regulatory protection before deciding on a name!
Check 9: Trademarks
How do I find out if my idea for a name is already being used? A Domain Name Search and Trademark Search will give you a first overview if your name has already been claimed. Also, make sure to try out different spellings of a name idea: if your idea is "wonderbrand", remember to check "wonderbrands" or "wonderband" too.
Are there already identical or many similar trademarks registered? Then it is probably advisable to reconsider the name. Please take the name check seriously. If you do not thoroughly search for older name rights, you might receive a cease-and-desist letter, which might force you to change the name – including the logo, business equipment, website ... When applying for a trademark, you should consult a trademark lawyer. Nevertheless, it is worth doing your own research and sorting out difficult names in advance. This saves unnecessary costs for professional advice.
Check 10: Domains
Consider which domain extensions (*.com, *.us, *.uk, *.eu, ...) are important for you. An identical country code top-level domain is desirable of course, whereas an identical .com domain is not necessarily so unless you have truly international ambitions. If the name is available as a domain without any additions (-online or -service for example) - great! Save it immediately and also note different spellings, e.g. with and without hyphens, as well as possibly one or the other mistyped domain. With a domain check, you will quickly find out which domains are still free or if not, what is behind it. If the domain is occupied, it can possibly be for sale or be requested. In this case, you have to consider how important this particular domain is and whether you are willing to pay for it.
Tip: Nowadays, the search for a free desired domain can quickly turn into a gauntlet run and let beautiful name ideas fail. Many domains are registered but are not actively used. So why not think about an alternative, industry-specific domain ending that sounds cool and makes the desired name possible after all? More tips and examples can be found in the blog post Demon Domain - or how to find an appropriate TLD.
The Lesson is Clear">
Our recommendation: Be bold when looking for a name! A conspicuous, unusual or concise name stands out from the crowd, arouses curiosity and is easier to remember. Therefore, a carefully chosen name is a simple and inexpensive advertisement for your business, considering that your name is the first thing customers will come into contact with. By the way, this is not only true for end customers are the target group (B2C), but also for business customers (B2B).
So let's get to the creative ideas. And with the 10-point checklist for finding a name, nothing can go wrong. If you have more points or questions, please write them in the comments.
Good luck with the name finding!">