There are a lot of ways to come up with a business name. There are no standards and definitely no limits. In this post, I will share with you my process in coming up with a business name that is in line with branding strategies.
Your Name as a Business Name
You can always use your name for your business name. Think of Hewlett-Packard, a company founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. Michael Dell founded Dell. McAffee was founded by John McAffee.
Today, there doesn’t seem to be many tech startups that follow the same step. It is usually non-tech companies, like law firms, that still do this – Saul Goodman & Associates for example.
If you like the sound of your name and have some sort of authority or credentials tied to it, then feel free to use it to name your company. While I don’t see anything wrong with my name, I just don’t like the sound of Cayabyab Design Agency.
Coming Up with a Business Name
If you are like me, you want your business name to be like that of Google, Facebook, Spotify, and other ‘hip’ big brands. While I am not sure how each of those companies came up with their ‘awesome’ business name, I know that the name itself is only awesome because the companies themselves are awesome. I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if you have a weird business name but the company behind it has tremendous value, then your business name would definitely be perceived as ‘awesome.’ Having said that, let me share how we came up with brand names such as Pixeptional, QuotySalad, and GattlingPun using the following method.
1. Write down all the words that relate to or would want to be related to your brand.
They could be characteristics, objects, feelings, colors, animals, absolutely anything at all. Write as many as you can.
For example, as a designer I want to have a brand that triggers delight. A brand that delivers something exceptional. I want it to be inspirational, both to consumers/clients and other designers.
My list of words would be something like: design, graphic design, graphics, drawings, icons, logo, illustration, pen tool, pencil, colors, sketch, colorful, modern, canvas, digital, paper, whiteboard, pixels, art, artistic, problem solver, photoshop, creative, visionary, motivational, fantastic, inspirational, exceptional, trustworthy, delivers, delightful, joy, industry-leading, hip, fun, and can-do.
2. Write a tagline, a catchphrase or a short pitch.
Write something that can be used to describe you. Clear, concise, and memorable is what you are going for. For example:
- “providing valuable design insights”
- “social awareness through design”
- “making awesome a reality”
- “your daily pixel-perfect fix”
- “changing the world through typography”
Take this time to really think about your vision, the purpose of your business, the ‘why’ in creating the brand, or the value that you want to give. Note that this is something that you can change in the future as you learn more, as your business grows, or as you pivot.
3. Combine Words in Your List
Take two or three words from your list and combine them. Write all the good combinations. From my list above, we could come up with
- Can-Do Design
- Art Fantastic
- Creative Hip
- Fun Pencil
- Motivational Pen Tool
- Canvas Visionary
Remember that you don’t need to use the words as a whole. You can take part of the words and combine them with other words or part of those other words.
- fantastic + pixels = Pixtastic, Fantaxel, Fixel
- pencil + delightful = Pendelight, Pendeli, Delipen
- hip + fun + colorful = Hifuco, Colorhip, Funcol, Funip, Colorfun, Funcohip
- canvas + modern + art = Canmo, Artvas, Modart, Moart, Artcan, Artmod
You can play with the words and create new words out of your list. They don’t need to make sense. After all, you will be the one giving meaning to your business name.
- creative = Creativ, Createev, Createevo
- problem solver = ProSolvee, Blemosolv
- whiteboard = Whibora, Witbor
- pixel = Picksell, Pixool, Peexool, Xeli, Pxle
You can even extend this activity by using words from other languages. Other businesses also use words that are totally unrelated to their products or industry they are in – like Apple, Mint, and Shell.
Get inspiration from your day to day experiences. Take advantage of your life’s narrative. Who knows? Maybe in the future, your brand will be one of the popular case studies when it comes to good business names.
4. Connect the Business Names to the Taglines
By connecting all the business names with each and every tagline, you will have a higher level view of how you want your brand to be perceived.
- Fantaxel – “Making awesome a reality.”
- Pendelight – “Changing the world through typography.”
- Hifuco – “Your daily pixel-perfect fix.”
- Pixool – “Providing valuable design insights.”
Sometimes you will construct a tagline that you’ll absolutely love but not necessarily like any of the business names that you made or vice-versa. If that happens, repeat the activity with your chosen tagline or business name as a starting point in coming up with related words.
Note: All the business names listed above are fictitious and are for the sole purpose of giving examples. I did not do any research to check whether the names mentioned are actually being used today. Mention of existing business names are purely a coincidence. Feel free to use any of the examples in Step 3 if no one owns them.
Beyond Business Names
Do a quick google search of your new business name before proceeding with other branding activities. If your name is taken, run the steps again with this constraint in mind. You can add words relating to your differentiating factor, terms that you would want people to use when searching for you online, and keywords that similar brands or competitors use.
While you can always change your business name, it is better to have a good one right from the start. The sooner people get acquainted with your brand, the better. Rebranding in the future, while sometimes is necessary, can become costly economically and affect your goodwill.
You do not need to already have a business to do this exercise. You can come up with a brand name for your blog or website, or use it as a username for any of your social media accounts.
Share with us the business name you created using this method!