business naming

Asked on MosaicHub by Jackie G.

Here are 10 rules for naming your new company.

Don’t rush it. A bad company name is tougher to dump than a bad spouse!

Brainstorm to start with. Bring in a few savvy allies and start tossing out both sensible and crazy ideas. Write ‘em all down. The most outrageous suggestion might later spark the most practical name. Listen to yourself as you explain to people what you do, or when they then paraphrase what you do.

After you narrow down the candidate names, run them by people who might be your clients. If you get blank stares, scratch that one. If their eyes show recognition, you’re getting close. Listen for the one that clicks. I bought my company, and retained the (so-so) name, The Business Group. But my slogan, which is my top selling tool, just popped out of my mouth when I was explaining to someone what I do. (It’s “Grow Your Business without Driving Yourself Crazy®.”)

Try to find a name for which the URL is available. If not exactly, then very close. I failed at this, because my company name is too generic. But I got the “dot biz” version. (Your URL must be something you don’t have to spell for people. No hyphens, underscores, abbreviations, or cutesy made up words.)

Can your company name actually tell what you do and convey a benefit to the desired customer? If you can come up with one that does, use it. Even pay for it if you have to

Select a name in conjunction with clarifying your brand and designing your logo. Also choose your tagline or slogan this way.

What about clever made-up names? If people don’t get it instantly, it’s no good. The companies that successfully use made-up words for their name have a million dollar promo budget to drum it into the public consciousness. You don’t have that. For every Google and Xerox, there are dozens of failed names that just evoke a “Huh?” response from people

If you need to launch and don’t yet have a name that clicks, operate under your own name. Then when the right name pops out, register that as a DBA.

If you decide to use your own name, use your last name, not first. “Jackie’s Resume Service” sounds small; “Turner Executive Job Placement” sounds corporate.

If you use your name, is this a problem when you want to sell? Not necessarily. A client of mine just sold her company for $1 million, even though it had her last name. The buyer plans to retain the name.

There’s a trade-off between being too specific and too generic. You could be “The Turner Group,” which says nothing but allows you to diversify. “Turner Executive Placement” is specific, conveys a benefit, but could get in the way if you diversify.

But the less generic and more specific, the more likely you can register the corresponding URL. E.g., “turnerexecutiveplacement.com” may well be available.

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