A business name is more than an empty word on a page. It is an identity and a brand asset. As the most recognizable and shareable aspect of your brand, your business name should help you succeed!
So many people approach naming a business from a flat perspective. They ask, “How do I name my restaurant?” or “What should I call my insurance company?” However, these questions do not validate your business. They do not capture the depth of the task. This is because you are not just naming a restaurant, a hair salon, a fashion brand, an app, or an insurance company. You are naming your business.
Your business name must be specific to who you are as a company. What is your brand? What makes your business stand out?
Think about the name Apple. When it first launched in 1976, it was likely not considered a “good” name for a computer company. A “good” name is a subjective idea–it could be the UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer), the first commercial computer produced in the United States. However, Apple, by taking a name after an organic object, provided a solid foundation for their unique brand’s growth. Apple may not be a suitable name for any computer company, but it proved to be a successful name for theirs.
A brand is something that must be cultivated and nurtured in order for it to grow. Your name must not simply be a good name for a company in the industry in which you will exist. It must be a good name for your company.
Understand Naming Philosophy
The below framework, which we call the Squadhelp Distillation Process, explains how to develop a name that will become the North Star of your brand. We start with big ideas and break it down until we have a name that represents the entirety of your organization and can carry the weight of your brand. We can approach naming much like the way distilling whiskey starts with high volumes of liquid and ends with a condensed product.
Stage 1 – Venture
The first step of our distillation process is to collect the broadest business name ideas that make up your business. This broad scope includes the big ideas behind your venture: operations, marketing, finances, legal, HR, and any other factors that go into making your business function smoothly. While from a communications standpoint, most people interacting with your business do not need to know who cleans your floors, prepares your taxes, or fixes your computers, it is important to understand the scope of your company. Considering the broad overview of your company when you are searching for a name can help provide direction on how you need your business to come across at a glance.
Stage 2 – Brand
Your brand or forward-facing communication is what you present to the world. There are many elements, such as your story, mission, colors, and fonts. These elements are represented through many platforms, across hundreds, likely thousands, of touch-points, with multiple stakeholder groups. At this level of communication, you distill the vast amount of information from Stage 1 into that which is meaningful and relevant to prospects, customer, investors, and the like.
Stage 3 – Value Proposition:
This is the short one or two sentence explanation of why you exist and why people should care. It’s your Value Positioning Statement, Unique Selling Proposition, Elevator Pitch, or Positioning Statement. It is a very, very succinct summary.
It is out of this clear focus that you truly determine your target customer and how you will approach them with your brand. In this communication decision, you will also find the most productive direction for your name. Personality and tone are created at the intersection of the value proposition and intended audience.
Stage 4 – Name:
Your venture is distilled into your brand, your brand into your value proposition, your value proposition into a single word or phrase that is used again and again by your customers, prospects, partners, and team. In this way, your name aids you in taking your venture to the market — it is a productive communication tool, which is used more than any other aspect of your entire brand.
Blackstone Labs, Apple, MailChimp, PayPal, Twitter, SalesForce, and Uber all accomplish very different goals with their names, but each name excellently supports the business, even as the brands were growing to greatness.
Your brand name is not simply an abstract thing. You must be able to breathe life into it, and a solid, memorable name aids in anchoring your brand.
Yes. We know. This is all very interesting and philosophical, but it’s not very actionable. So now that you understand the theory behind naming, let’s dive into a more practical conversation.
Discover the 5 Categories of Effective, Evocative Names.