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Determining Your Company Name

Samantha Intagliata
Director of Marketing and Communications
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entrepreneurs choosing a company name

You’ve done the hard part—setting up the core of your company, figuring out your mission, and forming a business plan. Now, all you have to do is come up with a company name.

Should be pretty simple, right?

Even though choosing a company name might seem easy—at the end of the day, it’s almost like choosing the name of your baby. You’ve created your business, nurtured it, fed it, and cared for it—now just give it a name and throw it out in the world?

It’s a process:

Name-Choosing Process

The process can be narrowed down to a few simple questions. To help you make your decision in an educated way, you should really know:

1. Who will be your customers?

2. Who are your competitors—what are their names?

3. What’s your problem-solving mission?

Once you’ve got these three questions answered, you can definitely start brainstorming.

However, before you go blurbing names out and scribbling them on a whiteboard, run through these five pieces of advice to help pick a company name:

1. Don’t make it hard-to-spell

Although it could mean your company name is creative—if it’s continuously misspelled, that can’t be good news for business.

2. Find a company name that means something to you and your company.

Not only will that help you be more connected to it, it will also mean that others will remember it much better than a meaningless, yet catchy name.

3. Don’t go too specific.

Although your business might be simply selling bracelets at the beginning, you don’t want to be limiting yourself to only selling that product for the rest of your

business’ life.

4. Do a background check.

Make sure that no one else is using your company's name, register yourself with the .com domain, and hire a lawyer or do a trademark search yourself. All of these small details are important in the long run. A Secretary of State search can also be helpful in seeing if other startups are similar to yours or if the company name already exists. An SEO search to determine how popular those words are can also help.

5. Figure out if you’re happy with it.

Although there might be a ton of input from others, even a marketing group, make sure that you’re proud when you say it. Say it aloud, test it out, get a feel for it before you launch it out in the world.

Once you feel as if you’ve got that perfect company name picked out, now comes the time to test it out. To conduct these tests, have a list of three to five names to choose from. Take each one and run it through these questions.

This can help you determine which are keepers and which aren’t:

1. Can it be read quickly and pronounced just as fast?

2. Is it spelled in a strange way that can lead to confusion?

3. Does it convey the meaning of your business?

4. Does it contain any negative words?

5. Can you say it proudly?

Implement a Focus Group Test

Another test that you can do is once you’re truly happy with a company name and feel like you’ve picked a winner, create a focus group of individuals that can help give you feedback on how they feel about the company name.

Make sure this focus group is completely anonymous. You don’t want people who know you making inferences and coming to the group with opinions. This can help you get a feel for how your target audience will perceive your company’s name—which is definitely why you should pick your target audience out first.

For example, if you are targeting men in their early 20’s for a clothing line, make sure your focus group has a few 20-year-olds to a few 25-year-olds, ranging in different ethnic backgrounds and financial histories (if your audience is more specific—get as specific as possible with your focus group).

Finding the Right Company Name for Your Brand

Identifying your brand identity and then picking a company name to convey that identity is difficult. However, when done correctly, it will set the tone for your company’s future. A shorter company name will do much better—especially with social media leading the commerce-medium these days.

All in all, if you’ve found a way to tie your new company name to a story behind it that helps you resonate with your business, that will help your business resonate with customers.

As people, we are drawn to stories. We can relate to them. When we listen to a story, we follow along with it—get invested in it.

Questions like, “How did you get your name?” can create a perfect opportunity for you to tell your story and the company’s connection behind the name. That is a great opportunity for you to become memorable to your target audience and have that memory work for you and your business.

Bottom-line: You want to be proud of your company’s name. You want it to not only work well from the inside but look good from the outside. You’ve done enough at home. Throw it out in the world and see if it flies.

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