If you are in business, chances are that you want a business name for clients, colleagues, coworkers, and target customers to remember you by. Your name is your brand, calling card and leave behind all in one. It is the personification of your business in a few short words.
Start with Key Criteria
According to Grant Polacheck, Director of Marketing & Operations at Squadhelp, and one of its naming and branding experts, “Typically, when clients come to us with a naming project they usually have three or four distinct criteria in mind already. They know their business, target audience, and company and understand what the chosen name needs to bring to the table.”
Grant shared that a recent customer knew “that she wanted a fresh, modern name, something she can build a story around.” While another was seeking “a short, forceful, preeminent product name. They received some great naming ideas that they had to turn down when compared with their key criteria checklist. The name needed to evoke a feeling of strength as a main component because they plan to sell the product to the military.
What you first need to consider when setting up your key naming criteria is, How can my name help me succeed. There are dozens of things a name can do for you, but since a name is only one, two, or maybe three words, you must set key priorities.
Here are some examples:
- I want to use my name to stand out – Apple Computers
- I want to use my name to fit in – Squire Patton Boggs (Law firm)
- I want to capture what my business is all about – PayPal
- I want to build a fun and engaging brand experience – Mail Chimp
- I want a short name and a matching .com – Tovala
- I want to immediately come across as a high end fashion brand – Amiri
Criteria for naming varies greatly. It can be one of the many styles of names, for instance you may know you want a clever name, or classic, emotional, experiential, or emotional. MORE ON NAMING HERE- link. Or maybe you are more interested in simplicity, you want an abstract word, or prefer a french or latin tone.
A Naming Criteria Exercise
If you are not yet sure what 3-4 key criteria should be for your naming project, see if any of these words spark interest and remind you of your brand, product or company culture:
Simple, memorable, stylish, relevant, versatile, visual, happy, short, long, phonetic, classic, clever, emotional, experiential, intriguing, abstract, timeless, fresh, vintage, a pun, two words that rhyme, a real English word, Anglo Saxon, French, Spanish, German, a made up word, romantic, business-like, forceful, strong, feminine, acronym, sticky, phonetic, rolls off the tongue, 1-2 syllable, suggestive, inspirational, a place or number as part of the name, approachable, playful, smart, intellectual, modern, energetic, fresh, friendly, childlike, healthy, light-hearted, funny, cool, trendy, hip, and many, many more…
Keep In Mind
Remember that a name can not be everything to everyone. 3 or 4 key attributes you agree on with your team are more than enough. Grant shares his wisdom “Sometimes people come to us and say they really want the name to be something out of the box. In reality, we use the criteria to create a small box that the perfect name will fit into.” Also remember, your name will probably have a logo or tagline with it so it can cover more ground once the brand identity package is in place.
Naming Validation Questions
According to Grant, “Your name is a productive asset. It has to meet the specifications you set out for it and ideally it should be tested by a broad audience.” Squadhelp audience testing tests up to 6 names with 100 people as a part of the process in some of the packages. Grant stresses to not ask friends and colleagues “Do you like the name?” Rather, he suggests asking the following questions about any name under consideration:
- Which name best resonates with my brand and mission?
- Does it have a call to action that makes sense for my business?
- Does it meet each of my key criteria?
- Will my target audience get it?
With all these tips and criteria, plus Grant’s expert advice, you should be well on your way to a memorable name that encapsulates your business. Squadhelp recommends that you don’t fall head over heals in love with any name until it is audience tested and risk assessed by a trademark attorney. Due diligence is critical in order to assure that you can use the chosen name. Taking time for naming validation and legal footwork will pay off and is essential to the overall success of your project. For more information on trademarking visit here.
Congratulations on making it this far. Soon the world will be welcoming your great new business name!
Kathleen Kennedy is the Director, Branding & Partnerships at Squadhelp.com–the only full-service, agency-like name development platform, that is also affordable. Read Squadhelp’s free book, How to Develop the Perfect Name for Just About Anything.