The Ultimate Guide to Perfectly Name Your Business (2020 Update)

I have seen in many startups, founders spend too much time finalising their business name.

The valuable time they should have put on creating their marketing plan.

I have created this ultimate guide for you to come up with the perfect Brand Name for your Startup, Youtube channel, Blog or any business online or offline.

I would use three main steps here called Brainstorming, Filtering and Finalising, and guarantee that you will come up with your perfect brand name at the end.

Brainstorming

Now, the objective in this stage is to come up with 10-15 potential ideas as your business name

We will discuss how to do it step by step!

1. Understand your business

Your brand name has to be appealing, smart and personalised statement representing your business.

Consider the following list to identify what your business is,

  • Industry
  • Purpose/ mission
  • USP

Industry

Why this is important? Because, your name, its tone in pronunciation and its structure would change depending on your industry.

For instance, consider the name “Apple”. The name itself, reflects the simplicity and user friendliness of the brand.

And now, just imagine a finance service firm named “Cherries”. How does that sound? How relevant that brand is for a business in finance? Would you hire Cherries to get your tax file done? I doubt that. The name for a such firm has to be solid.

Cherries: This name is more suitable for a fresh juice bar or a cake shop
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Cherries: This name is more suitable for a fresh juice bar or a cake shop

Purpose/ Mission

Your purpose of being in business or your mission statement is something important to consider before naming your business. Yes it is true that you would not have finalised your mission before the name.

But you need to have an idea of your purpose.

USP

USP is the Unique Selling Point of your business/ product. If you haven’t set it yet, it’s time to do it. Because you need to have a clear idea of where your business is heading and how you differentiate your brand from the competition.

Right! now you have identified your industry, your business purpose and your specialties. Let’s move on!

Handpicked Related Content: 10 Simple Steps to turn your Passion into a Profitable Business in 2020

2. Carryout an online research for competitor names

Go to Google.com and list down your competitors and influencers that you follow. See how they have named their businesses.

If you are looking for your Youtube channel name or your blog or website name, use platforms like youtube, twitter, facebook to research on how others have done it.

The sole purpose of this research is to get an idea as to how your competitors have named their brands.

DO NOTS No: 01 NEVER take a competitor’s brand name with a little alteration in a way that it confuses the customer. For example, if you are starting out a burger business, do not name it as “Burger’s King” or “King Burger”. It gives your audience an idea that your business is not genuine or it’s not original. so AVOID it.

Using a famous brand with a little tweak of words would make your business look fake
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Using a famous brand with a little tweak of words would make your business look fake

3. Create a list of 10-15 potential names

Now it’s time to generate name ideas. For this, I am giving you a list of strategies. You can use these strategies to come up with the required set of brand names.

1. Use your name or the nickname

Creating your name as your personal brand is the ideal thing to do in platforms like Youtube. But then, you have to consider the following drawbacks of doing that.

  • It would be difficult to sell a personal branded business
  • If you think of getting another business partner to your business in the future, it would create complications

If the owner of your business is only you, write your full name clearly on a paper. See whether all of that or a part of that can be used as your business name.

Highlight the starting letters of every word and see whether tweaking of these letters makes any interesting words.

If you have an interesting nickname that was used by your family or your friends, consider that as well.

If the business has several owners, you can still tweak with letters from the names of the owners and create combinations.

If these three gonna start a business, they can play with their names to come up with a brand
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If these three gonna start a business, they can play with their names to come up with a brand

DO NOTS No: 02 Do Not Use acronyms if you can not spell them as a word. That’s an old fashioned way of naming your business. I know, there are companies like BBC, CNN, HSBC who has done it successfully but it takes a huge marketing effort to take an acronymic name into your crowd.

2. Try out an online business name generator

This has become a popular way of finding names for businesses. Most of these name generators are free to use.

You have to enter a keyword or simply a word that you like to have in your name. Then these programs analyse your word and combine that with a set of preprogrammed words phrases or letters and present you with the result.

A search for 'berry' in shopify business name generator
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A search for ‘berry’ in shopify business name generator

Here, I have listed some of the most popular name generator programs you can try out for free.

3. Check your keywords in different languages

I recently noted, that if you list out your business keywords and translate them into different languages, you could get some quality, interesting and catchy name ideas. Try it out!

For instance, consider the word Digital. It is “Numerique” in French and “Digitus” in Latin. I know because I Googled.

You can find these interesting worlds, tweak them and pronounce them the way you want.

4. Use your business Keywords and tweak them up with words or letters

Many businesses do this. Checkout this company Backlinko. This is a business in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Backlink is one of the keywords in SEO. So they have just added an “O” to the end. Interesting right?

DO NOTS No: 03 DO NOT USE generic keywords to your business and combine them with your name. For instance, “Sam’s Salon”, “Jame’s Hardware”, “Mick’s Coffee”. I mean, this trend is long gone!

This type of generic name trend is long gone
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This type of generic name trend is long gone

5. Use the Map or the Dictionary

One big source of names is the map. Look at the oceans, rivers, mountains, cities in the world. See how Jeff Bezos is rewarded for naming his book stall Amazon, instead of “Jeff’s Books”

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I just found this awesome name for my next business. “Arafura”

Another source is the Dictionary. Surf through it and look for an appealing word that you can tweak and make relevant to your business.

Filtering

Now when you reach this phase, you already have picked about 15 potential brand names for your requirement. By the end of the Filtering process, You should try to take that number down to at least 5.

Use the following guidelines to Filter the selected names.

1. Eliminate long names

Names with more than two words, or more than 15 letters aren’t typically good picks as a brand name for your company

Some of the world's longest popular brands
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Some of the world’s longest popular brands

Keep it short, so that it’s easy to remember and to type in a search engine for your audience.

2. Avoid common spelling mistakes

Most entreprenuers pick complex and confusing names for their startups thinking that the name would stand out. However, there are so many words in English that people commonly misspell like ‘entrepreneur’.

I have seen many people struggle to spell words which include ‘ie’ or ‘ei’ , words which include ‘eu’ or ‘ue’ etc.

Rule of thumb here is that your audience should be able to spell it without a doubt

3. Avoid common pronunciation mistakes

Similarly the word pronunciation has such complexities. Say for example “Peugeot”. This is a French originated brand name which has a unique pronunciation. Most people still struggle with pronunciation and spelling even after 200 years of starting the business.

There is no doubt about the success of Peugeot as a business. But you don’t have to pick such a name for your startup right?

What people find difficult to pronounce
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What people find difficult to pronounce

4. Get feedback from others

List your names and send it to your closest friends, family and to your team and ask them to pick their top five.

This will surely help you get your list down to 10 or less.

Finalising

This is the last stage of finalising your business name. Now you should have filtered your list of names to a smaller list, probably below 5.

I call this step, “The REAL brand name quality test”. REAL stands for Relevant, Expandable, Available and Lovable.

REAL: Brand Name Quality Test
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REAL: Brand Name Quality Test

1. Relevant

Your brand name should be relevant to your industry and to your business. It should represent your business purpose and values. When the customers hear the tone of your name they should feel your business.

Consider for instance, the brand name “Volvo”. If you forget that Volvo is an Auto manufacturer, think of the other products that you can integrate with the brand?

Volvo can be a Finance service provider, Volvo can be a tech company or Volvo can be a pump manufacturer. But surely, Volvo can not be a Cake company. Because it doesn’t sound like one.

Volvo sounds weird for a cake business
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Volvo sounds weird for a cake business

If the Brand name describes the nature of your business, it would be highly valuable for your SEO (for the potential customer to find you on the internet) when you have a website.

However, it doesn’t mean you have to use a business keyword as your brand name. I have seen some domains like “bestdigitalmarketingconsultancy.com”. I do not find any particular value in such brand names.

Remember, you are creating the brand for your audience, not for the search engines.

2. Expandable

When your business expands, you should be able use the same brand, may be into different geographical markets or into different products or services.

See the examples of some global brands.

Google can expand its name theoretically into many products and they have expanded into AI, Robotics, Automobile and many more.

Similarly, companies like Apple, Tesla, Sony, Samsung, have that same flexibility to expand into new markets protecting their core values.

What if Jeff Bezos named his online book store as buybooksonline.com and now he got to sell baby diapers under the same name?

Amazon: The everything store
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Amazon: The everything store

You don’t have to choose a name which can be used to sell anything. But it is good to be able to expand at least within your Industry.

For instance, If you are looking for a name for your photography business, you should be able to use that name for videography, event management and may be for selling cameras and equipment in the future. It doesn’t have to be used for selling Fresh vegetables later on.

3. Available

Your brand name has to be a unique one and any other business should not be using it already. You could check the availability of your brand name in the following ways.

1. Google the names

This way you can find out whether there is any major business associated with your brand name or with anything close to it. If you do not find an exact match, that name passes the first availability test.

If your name is taken by a business which is totally in a different industry, you can still choose it, but in the future when you try to trademark your brand, you might face problems.

2. Domain availability

This is VERY IMPORTANT even though you are not planning to start your website any sooner.

You can check the domain availability with GoDaddy’s free domain name checker. They even suggest you the available domains closer to your search.

If the .com extension of your preferred name is taken, you can still try some other extension such as ‘.io’, ‘.co’ or even a local extension like ‘.uk’ or ‘.eu’ .

However, if some other business is using your name’s ‘.com’ extension meaning, they might have already trademarked that brand name.

3. Trademark availability

If you are serious about your business, check whether the brand names you selected are Trademarked. Use the following tools to check your trademark availability.

Apart from the above tools, there are separate tools for each country for Trademark searches. Google the Trademark database of ‘your country’ and check the availability of your selected Brand name.

4. Social media availability

Check whether there are already created pages and accounts in the social media platforms that you are considering to be in.

Check facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram or any other platform you wish to setup business pages.

If one of these platforms are not available for a name that you think is the best fit for your business, don’t worry. You can still bypass this.

For instance, you have chosen the name ‘Limely’ for your fresh juice shop and you find that ‘limely’ is not available to use as your Facebook page as someone else is using it.

You can still use ‘Limely’ as your business name and ‘LimelyOfficial’ or ‘LimelyFresh’ as your Facebook business page name.

4. Lovable

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing of all. You need to LOVE YOUR BRAND. You need to feel proud when you hear your brand. Therefore, do not take the final decision based on someone else’s recommendation. You need to select it yourself.

And if you love the Brand name, you can bypass any of the above restrictions or any guideline that I have mentioned above

Bonus Point

Now that you have selected the perfect brand name for your business. Follow these steps to grab it and make it yours and yours only!

  • Buy the Domain ASAP even though you are not planning to create a website now
  • Create all the relevant social media accounts ASAP
  • Consider trademarking your brand (this process will differer depending on the country you are doing business, you may need some assistance of a lawyer for this)

If you came up with your business name with this guide, let me know in comment section. I would love to hear!

Thanuj Gunawardana

Freelance writer specialising in marketing, business and tech. Say Hi on Twitter
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