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So you have a great business idea. Awesome!

According to the U.S government, businesses are considered individuals. And just like you and I, individuals have a name (or symbols) to be referred by. Some of us are named after historical/mythical figures, others have a deep meaning, while others are named after objects. Businesses are similar. As you develop your brand identity, a business name is crucial in helping your customers identify who you are, what you do, and what you stand for.

Check out Neil Patel’s quick video on “How to Choose a Great Business Name”:

Each year, hundreds of thousands of companies are established, each competing for a good business name. We find it’s best to educate yourself on various methods of naming conventions prior to putting pen to paper. When deciding on a naming convention, think about the tone of your brand, the tone being your brand’s personality (eg. playful, quirky, creative, fun, serious, kind, earnest, etc…)

In his video, Neil Patel mentioned a few broad categories. Below are those and a few additional business naming categories that will help you choose your business name:

  1. Real Words: Apple, Monster, Mustang
  2. Made Up Words: Zumba, Sysco, Waze
  3. Compound Words: Rockstar, Playboy, Mastercard
  4. Phrases: The North Face, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Whole Foods Market
  5. Pronouns: Patagonia, Tesla, Louis Vuitton
  6. Literal Names: Build-a-Bear, The Gas Company, Container Store

Try to conjure up a name for your business using the categories above. To add some flair to your business name, you can inject one or more of the various styles below. Make sure to be consistent in your business’ tone by only adding styles to your business name that best reflect your brands personality. For example, your clients may not take your business too seriously if you used a play on words for the name of your financial investment firm:

  1. Misspellings – Unbxd, Lyft, Flickr
  2. Compounds – Facebook, Salesforce, Youtube
  3. Transmutations: FedEx, Comcast, Reddit
  4. Acronyms – UPS, NYSE, AT&T
  5. Play On Words – Surelock Homes, Lord of the Fries, Curl up and Dye
  6. Metaphoric or Symbolic: Blue Flame, Titan, Rogue
  7. Foreign Words: Nike, Versace, L’Oreal
  8. Poetic Elements – Lulu Lemon, Jelly Belly, Krispy-Kreme
  9. This & That – Barnes & Noble, Johnson & Johnson, Arm & Hammer

As you can see from the list of examples above, many styles cross over resulting in some creative names that roll off the tongue. For example: Reddit is a compound AND misspelling of “read it” while Arm & Hammer combines two words in a this & that format but is also metaphoric of the Roman god Vulcan representing fire, metalworking and the forge.

After crafting several (or more) company names, run them through your state’s business name directory to ensure they are not already being used by another company. It would also help to check domains and run a google search with your business name in quotes to see what you can find. You wouldn’t want to run into legal issues in the future or worse yet, find out your business name has a negative connotation in a different country or language.

Lastly, make sure to test the market to see which names work best. More often than not, what you and I think will not be what the rest of the population thinks. It’s good to get the opinion of your friends and family. It may also be helpful to create different marketing materials each with its own business name on the header allowing you to quantify engagement, such as business cards dropped off at local businesses.

But more importantly, have fun! Choosing a business name can be a long drawn out process, but learn to make the most of it. The more research and thought you put into the name of your brand, the more confidence for your company you will have in the long run.

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