What’s in a name? One one hand, the name of a business doesn’t seem to really matter. After all, I’m writing this using a laptop with an Apple logo on it. And what does fruit have to do with computers, anyway? But what a company is called matters, so here are tips to generate a business name.
This post may contain affiliate links. I will receive a small commission if you use these links, at no additional cost to you. For the full disclosure, visit this page.
Branding and business names
Branding is about building connection and recognition. We think of burgers when we see a certain yellow M because of decades of powerful storytelling in advertising. But both these companies started out in a very different time. Market conditions and consumer behaviour were very different. New entrepreneurs starting out need to consider what works today, and in the future.
1. Negative Marketing
First, I’ll share this excellent example of a smart business name. The streets of London are full of vans and cars, especially in white and black. Anything really colourful will pop out, but this van didn’t catch my attention for being bright and cheery. In fact, it is visually interesting because it’s the opposite. You don’t often see the word “hate” in company signage. This is known as negative marketing, which has a number of tactics. This company is using negative marketing to empathise with customers who hate ironing. And according to this study, ironing is the chore that Brits hate the most.
And this is an important tip – consider the main pain points of your customers. What is the problem your product or service solves? Because that may be a way to generate a business name that will catch the attention of your target audience, and stand out from competitors.
2. Repetition and Alignment
Repetition and alignment are important in building a brand. This matters both visually, and in text. An example is using the same logo, colours, and tagline on a website, social media profiles, and marketing materials. Repetition is widely used and known to be effective to create familiarity. Aligning your business name with your messaging is a way to create alignment, and helps your customers find you and understand what it is your business does. For example, if you saw a shop with a sign for “Katy’s Kat Kafe,” you have a good idea what to find when you walk in. But if you call your new e-commerce store “Brad’s Top Tables” and you sell only jewellery, consumers will be confused. Make sure your business name matches what your audience expects.
3. Know your Niche
Use your niche to create a business name that makes sense. It’s a great shortcut for your audience to understand what your business does. For example – we see SurveyMonkey and expect it to be software to create surveys. However, this can be a bit of a trap. If your company is called “Cosy Dog Beds” and then you want to branch out to sell products for cats or guinea pigs or fish or birds, this name may work against you. When naming your business, check in with your longer term goals. If your strategy is to start with dog beds but later become a top retailer for all pet owners, then know that niche and pick a name which makes sense.
4. Avoid Trends
Finally, avoid trends when thinking of a business name. Keyword research may reveal a particular term is in high demand, and may be tempting to lock it in as a domain name and run with it. However, trends are, by definition, temporary. If you want to build a solid, sustainable business, then avoid naming it after a trend.
Best Tips to Generate a Business Name
Most importantly, check that your business name works everywhere you need it to. For example, you think “Smarty Pants Pants” is a great name for your clothing upcycling business. So next, consider all the places where you want to market your new business. Website, Etsy, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and so on. Check to see if your business name is available as a domain name and social media profiles. Also, see who is using the same or similar name. Because there could be something out there that would cause confusion. As in, a lingerie ecommerce site using smartypantspantz.com!