When you decide to start a business, there are so many things you need to take care of: deciding on your business model, competitor research, building a website, creating logo and so on. While all elements of your “to-do” list are important, choosing the right name for you business comes in the first rows.
Many entrepreneurs believe that company name isn’t important because the product/service quality is the only thing that matters. While this is partially true, company name can either hold your business back of boost it like a rocket fuel.
Important tips to follow
- Make it relevant. Sure, it doesn’t mean that if you sell bubblegum, you should name your company “BubblegumSeller”. Have a look at names like SurveyMonkey, Salesforce, HotMail, etc.
- Analyze the competitors. Analyze the names competitors are using to come up with the name that makes your company stand out from the crowd.
- Target your audience. The best scenario is that when customers read your name, they understand what the business is about. But even if company name is very individual and unique, make sure it resonates with your target audience.
- Avoid abbreviations. Many people look at IBM, GM, HP, AOL and believe they can achieve the same success with the abbreviation as a company name. The truth is that companies like IBM became successful before choosing an abbreviation as a company name.
- Think about the future. Often, companies are named exactly after what you do, e.g. Tom’s Fishing Supplies. If you follow such approach, you are limiting your future growth opportunities. For example, “Best Buy” was known as “Sound of Music” until 1983. What if Tom decides to sell Hunting products as well?
Key mistakes to avoid when choosing the company name
- You involve nearly every employee, friend and family member. As a result you may come up with a very mediocre name that partially satisfies everyone. It’s better to involve only key decision makers who will be directly responsible for company’s performance.
- Combining a part of an adjective with a noun. In such a way you may come up with something like AmaziLife. As a founder of Tungsten branding company, Phil Davis, says “It’s a bit like mixing chocolate syrup with ketchup – there’s nothing wrong with either ingredient, but they just don’t go together.”
- Using city or region as a part of company name. It’s kind of similar to our 5th In case a company grows and expands, such a name can be a drawback.
- Using awkwardly misspelled names. This often happens when you try to find a domain name for a company and realize that all popular names and variations are taken. As a result you may come up with something like PhishMarqet. Try to avoid such approach as further rebranding efforts may cost you a pretty penny.
- Sticking to a wrong name. We all make mistakes, but refusing to change a wrong name may destroy your company. History knows a lot of examples when companies went bankrupt refusing to revise their company name. Read the book “Positioning: The Battle for your Mind” by Al Ries and Jack Trout to learn more on this topic and find evidence to my words.
10 tools for picking a perfect company name
Business Name Generator is a free tool developed by Shopify which combines keyword(s) with other words to generate a list of available domains. It’s a great choice for those who want to add a bit of creativity.
Name Mash uses synonyms and variations to generate name ideas. It also checks domain availability. You can choose from common top-level domains, mixed combinations, SEO-focused and similar or fun variations.
According to Wikipedia, wordoid is “A fabricated word coined to identify a new concept”. Wordoid.com generates made-up words that don’t exist but sound and look great. You can create wordoids in English, French, German, Spanish and Italian languages. You can even mix languages to create a very unusual combination. It’s a great tool for those who seek for a unique and memorable company name.
Panabee is another simple tool for finding great company name. If the name you wanted is taken, Panabee will offer different variants derived from abbreviations, syllables, phonemes, syllables, abbreviations, suffixes, prefixes and popular trends.
Namestation is another tool that generates name suggestions based on your keywords. It lets you use several algorithms which include “Smart Search”, “Append Keywords”, “Combine Lists”, “Alliterations”, “Portmanteaus” and “Random names”. The only drawback is that you need to register in order to use Namestation.
NameBoy is very minimalistic tool that performs search for one or two keywords and shows available domain names.
This tool combines your keyword with 4/5/6 letter nouns, adjectives or verbs and checks the availability of domains on GoDaddy and Namecheap.
Domainr combines all your keywords and searches available domain names beyond traditional .com and .net
Dot-o-mator let’s you combine lists of words for the beginning and the end of the domain. You can write your own lists or use predefined ones. Then you can add domains into the Scratchbox to check availability.
This tool combines your keywords with other words and checks the domain availability. The cool thing about it is that Lean Domain Search lets your sort the results by popularity, length and alphabetically.
Choosing the right company name isn’t as easy as it seems, so it’s important to approach this process seriously when starting a company. Fortunately there are many tools that make this process easier.
Oleg Yemchuk is the marketing manager at Maven sharing office space with online business experts and software developers.