10 Guidelines for Naming Your Business

Naming your new product, service or business is about so much more than whether you like the name. Each word in the name carries with it meanings—some of which are pervasive and others which are nuanced.

Here are 10 guidelines we use when working with clients looking for a name:

  1. The name should make immediately clear what the business is. If I’m looking for a bakery, I want to hone right into that word to help me sort out all the non-bakeries. Having it in the name makes it efficient for me.
  2. The name should be distinctive and memorable.
  3. The name should import or evoke the desired brand attributes. When it can be tied to a successful existing brand, this creates a short-cut to building your new brand. This saves you time and money.
  4. Take into consideration what its acronym spells (in any language relevant).
  5. The name should be easy to pronounce.
  6. The name should both sound good and look good visually on an ad, billboard, website or in a logo.
  7. Check domain name availability and buy it quickly once you have consulted your legal counsel. And here’s a word of caution. Some domain sites actually buy-up names you search for as part of their business strategy, so you can look up their availability one day and later come back to find it no longer available—except if you want to pay the price they’ve now attached to it.
  8. If it’s a made-up word—like OptiTru or XyPhil—you’ll need the budget to teach the public what it means. Made-up names don’t signal any reference point in the reader’s brain. This can be good, if you want to create the brand from ground up—but bad if you don’t have a boat load of money to spend.
  9. If there will be multiple locations, make the name flexible to accommodate those.
  10. If it’s a sub-brand, think through the implications of its relationship—visually and otherwise—to the master brand.
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