Deciding on the perfect business name for a new business is hard. You want a name that sounds good and isn’t being used by another business. Also, you’ll ideally want a matching website domain to go with it. But it seems like every name you can think of has already been taken.
This has happened to me multiple times for every business I create or help. So I’ve created a checklist of what to do to help brainstorm and decide on the perfect name for a new business.
In this post I’ll go through the thought process and the tools I used to come up with the original name for this website: Leo Web Services.
If you’re looking for help on finding your ideal business name, get a pen and paper ready (or an Excel spreadsheet) and go through the following exercises with me.
- List words that describe your business
- Find synonyms to add to your list
- Think of short words
- Keep your website domain in mind
- Search your ideas on Google
- Personalize your business name
- Invent new words
- Use animal names
- Use foreign words
- Use geographical locations
- Use abbreviations or acronyms
- Turn to mythology
- Use nicknames
- Pick a random dictionary word
- Think of what your clients will search for
- Think of a business name that expresses value for your customers
- Don’t decide in one day
- In conclusion
List words that describe your business
Think of all the words people probably think of and search for when looking for the type of products or services your business provides. For example in my case I wanted to provide online services to businesses, so I came up with a list like this:
- web, virtual, internet
- services, solutions, results, profit
- create, grow, automate, connect
Find synonyms to add to your list
Jump on to Thesaurus.com and look up synonyms for words you brainstormed. Add any extra words to your list. Doing this I found words like:
- benefit, fortune, value, advantage, digital, progress, success
Think of short words
This step is optional, but it’s helpful if you don’t want a really long and difficult domain name for your website.
While brainstorming these words, try to add short but relevant words to the list. This will make it easier to find a shorter website domain when you’re ready to create your business website.
A tool I like to use to brainstorm short words is The Free Dictionary:
Take a few minutes and add some short words to your list. Some words I added were:
- easy, epic, grow, top, site, big, zip, see, net
Keep your website domain in mind
First of all, you don’t need to have a website address that matches your business name. It’s ideal, but not necessary. Most people won’t find you by directly typing your website address into their browsers anyway.
But it’s not a bad idea to look for a name with an available address anyway. If you find one, it’s less likely that you’ll be choosing a name that another business is already using.
A great resource to use is NameMesh. You can type your keywords you brainstormed in the previous steps and NameMesh will try to combine them into an available .com domain and show you your options.
Write down the options you feel could be a good match for your business. Don’t decide now. Just start listing your ideas and continue to the next step.
I’ll explain my tips on picking a good website domain address in another post.
Search your ideas on Google
Think you’ve come up with the perfect name? Do a quick Google search on it to see what comes up. You might find that another business already exists with the same or very similar name. Depending on the business, you probably don’t want potential customers confusing you with them!
Or you might find unflattering references to your name idea you’ll want to avoid. I always like to remember the case of penisland.net, the website for the company “Pen Island”, specialist in selling pens. Was that the first thought you had when you saw the web address, you dirty-minded person?
Personalize your business name
Not finding anything yet? Don’t worry because in this section you’ll learn some ways to make your name unique and find more options.
Invent new words
NameMesh already does this for you to an extent in its “Mix” section. For example if I search for “Virtual” it gives me recommendations like “Virtualious” or “Virtuaholic”.
What other ways can you make minor alterations to words to form a unique name? Another service that can help you is Namelix. Searching for “virtual” on this website gave me ideas like:
Namelix also turns the names into logos to give you ideas for your business logo. It’s a great resource.
You may also appreciate the creative ideas found on BizNameWiz.
Use animal names
What do MailChimp, Red Bull, Firefox and HostGator all have in common? They’ve taken advantage of animal names to create their unique, memorable brand.
What animals do you like or think would sound good as part of your business name? The added bonus of using an animal name is that you can use that animal as a mascot to improve brand recognition.
Use foreign words
We considered adding Spanish words to our own name, considering short words like “rio” and “cima”, but we ultimately chose the Latin word for “lion” – “leo“.
Could you use a foreign word to spice up your business name? List some ideas.
Use geographical locations
Where do you live? On a hill? In a valley? Near a river? Could you use those words to give your business name a more personal touch?
For example there’s a mountain not too far from us called Montserrat. We could have easily turned that into a brandable name like “Montserrat Web Services” or “Montserrat Marketing”.
What geographical locations can you think of that might work well with your business name?
Use abbreviations or acronyms
Brands like LG, IBM and BMW took advantage of this strategy to create their unique name. Is there way you can abbreviate the ideas you’ve come up with to create a short but relevant name?
Turn to mythology
Think of Nike, Olympus and Oracle. These businesses all used popular mythological names in their brand. Take a look at a list of common mythological names and see if it stirs up some ideas for you.
Our cat is named Nico and we considered using “Nico Web Services” as our name. In the end we decided we liked “Leo” more, but take this example as an opportunity to start thinking about the nicknames you use with others. Would any of them make a good fit into your business name?
Pick a random dictionary word
This is the technique used by brands like Blizzard and Amazon. They just chose a simple word and formed their brand around it. If you’re out of ideas, this technique might be for you.
Think of what your clients will search for
One of the reasons we decided on “Leo web services” is because it’s likely people will search for “web services”. If you choose a name that has nothing to do with your business, that’s fine. But don’t expect clients to find your brand from normal searches until you’re bigger and more recognized.
Think of a business name that expresses value for your customers
Does the name you’ve chosen talk about you, or does it talk about what you offer your customers? Remember people care about what you can offer them more than who you are.
This is why we decided to go with a name like “Web Services” or “Web Solutions” instead of “Web Experts“. People may say they want an expert, but in reality they only want the service or solution an expert can provide them with.
Don’t decide in one day
Even if you think up the perfect name for your business now, I highly recommend you wait a couple days before finally getting it. This will give you time to consider things that might affect your choice.
Your name will stick with your business for a long time. You can always change it, but rebranding a business isn’t always as simple as it may sound. So don’t rush your decision if there isn’t an urgent need to do so.
I know how hard it can be to come up with a good name for a business, but if you follow the steps outlined here, you should have no problem coming up with multiple good ideas to quickly get you started.
Let me know in the comments what you think about these suggestions or if you have any others you would offer to others in this situation.