How to Name Your Business

Deciding on the name of your new company may be one of the more interesting challenges of launching a business, but the brainstorm can be far from simple. Before you consider names that aren’t worth your time, check out these guidelines that can give your company a name people want to share.

Keep it unique

When people search for your business, you don’t want them sifting through dozens of search results to find yours. While a clear and concise name is important, you also want to make sure you aren’t competing with a common (and therefore competitive) set of keywords. This holds true across all industries. For example, naming your company “Chicago Electric” is far from a wise move. That phrase gets at least thousands of searches per day, and if you’re just starting out it will be a near impossibility to break that barrier. Just Imagine if instead of “The Facebook”, Mark Zuckerberg had instead gone with something like “The Student Social Network”. Sure, it’s indicative of the service provided, but that phrase was hardly unique to the Facebook founder’s vision. If you want to get a good idea of the competition, I’d recommend running your company name through a few tests on Google Analytics. An excessive number of searches means you may want to aim for something a bit more unique.

Make Sure it Stays on Brand

If you’re in the cocktail business, don’t name your company Sudsly. The name needs to be a reflection of the service or product. It’s not wrong to do otherwise, but ask yourself how likely someone’s interest will stick when they find out the tax ­assistant service they’re checking out is geared towards actual accountants. If you launch RapidSearch today, you better make sure that speed is a top priority. For a cool real-­world example of sticking to your brand, look no further than Raoul’s, a restaurant in New York’s SoHo neighborhood. Their burger has been ranked as one of the best in the country, yet many patrons don’t even know it’s an offering. The owners take care to not put it on the menu, and only produce a limited number per day. By focusing on French cuisine and avoiding a name like “Raoul’s Burger Shack”, they can retain the patronage of customers who are unlikely to grab a burger. Why? Because they make sure you recognize them first as a French restaurant.

Avoid buzzwords the “.ly’s” of the world

That “Sudsly” example mentioned earlier? I’d be careful with that. True, it seems that every startup includes some variation of the “ly” or “ify” suffix. Some companies, like Feedly or Spotify, have used it to great success. But its ubiquity now makes such names ripe for parody, and could conjure up less than savory startup images. Haphazardly tossing a familiar suffix onto your company name can appear just as lazy as it does edgy.

Is it fit for sharing?

This point ties back into the uniqueness guideline. You should avoid an unwieldy name at all costs because but it needs to live online. Part of a healthy digital presence means your company should already have a website and several social media channels to interact with clients or customers. Some studies have shown that 5­15 characters are optimal for a business name. It makes sense, too. If the name is too long you risk a clunky URL and an inability to secure a username on platforms that keep strict username character limits, like Twitter or Facebook.


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