If you’ve ever tried to name a company, you know that this is no easy task. The logistics such as domain availability and trademark issues are nothing in comparison to the pressure to “get it right” and choose a name that perfectly reflects and defines the brand.
There are a number of options businesses choose from when determining their name. Some use the founder’s name, such as Kate Spade or Kendra Scott. Some, such as General Electric, use their name to describe what they do. Rent the Runway is an example of a business whose name describes an image or experience. Some of the largest and most widely recognized brands took a word out of context (Apple) or appropriated a little-used word (Google) to name their company.
If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed while trying to determine the name of your company, keep reading for five exercises to help you get creative and think critically in your search for the perfect brand name.
Hit the high score on Scrabble.
Richard Barton, whose entrepreneurial portfolio includes companies like Expedia and Zillow, once shared this simple and fun technique he uses when coming up with company names. If you’ve ever played Scrabble, you know that certain letters have more value than others. Barton suggests using these letters when naming your company, as they are used less often in the English language and are therefore more memorable.
Ask the audience.
Maybe you’ve already floated a few name ideas that you can’t seem to make work, or you feel like you’ve hit a creative road block. In this case, it can be immensely helpful to get some fresh perspective from company outsiders. Use a crowdsourcing service like SquadHelp or NamingForce (or even a forum such as Reddit) to give a group of strangers a chance to share their two cents. You might not get your perfect name out of the exercise, but at the very least the new ideas can help you refresh your brainstorming efforts.
Get a second opinion.
If you’ve started to narrow the options down and you’re feeling stuck between a final few, open up the floor for a second opinion. You may be surprised by what people do and don’t like, and, more importantly, why they feel that way. For example, recruiting firm Leap Job originally had trouble deciding between that name and Fox Hunt, so they put the two names to the test. As it turned out, Fox Hunt actually brought up negative connotations about violence and animal cruelty that they hadn’t previously considered. Alternatively, Leap Job was friendly and playful as well as memorable.
You might not get a straight answer if you ask, “Hey Siri, what would you name my company?” But if you’ve got a name in mind, you should consider how it’s impacted by the increasing popularity of voice assistance technology like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. If one of these devices misspells the name that you’re considering, chances are humans will, too. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to find a new, robot-friendly name. However, it can help you identify future challenges and come up with work-arounds, such as buying the misspelled .com extensions for your brand and redirecting them to your actual domain.
Take the bar exam.
After you’ve consulted with Siri, take the potential name comprehension test a step further over a few brews. Here’s how it works: Hang out at a crowded, noisy bar. Try to tell someone the name of your company and what you do in one sentence. Obviously, this isn’t the ideal environment for this conversation, but that’s the point. If the person you’re talking to keeps asking you to repeat the name or doesn’t understand how the name relates to the company, this indicates that the name is too hard to comprehend.
The process of naming your company is challenging, but few things are as rewarding as the “ah-ha” moment when you finally reach a decision. If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur searching for the lexical genius to name you company, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Contact the branding experts at Studio Brand Collective for a free consultation! We’ll help you find the name that sets the foundation for your unique brand.