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. In most cases, names that make it immediately clear what the business is will help your prospective customers engage sooner. If I’m looking for a florist and words like “flowers” or “florist” are in the name, I immediately see that this is the kind of business I’m searching for. There are exceptions, of course, but we know that when the brain spots a word it recognizes, the process of searching is made easier.

  2. The name should be distinctive and memorable.

  3. The name should import or evoke the desired brand attributes. If your business is competing in and industry known for fun, for example, then the name needs to evoke that.

  4. Take into consideration what its acronym spells (in any language).

  5. The name should be easy to pronounce, as sometimes it will be only heard and not seen (think audio-only ads).

  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 is no longer available—except if you want to pay the higher 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 lot 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.