Naming a Business
Whether people see it on their caller ID, read about it in The Wall Street Journal, or spot it on your nametag at a tradeshow, your business name is what makes that critical first impression. That’s why your business name needs to be instantly likeable, stand out in a sea of sameness, and be absolutely unforgettable. It’s important that you do it right.

The best business names are simple, conceptual and unforgettable. Like the ones we create at Eat My Words: a frozen yogurt franchise named Spoon Me; a commercial cleaning company named Eat My Dust; and an online therapy service named Breakthrough.

Here are some additional tips on how to name a business.

  • Do not name your business after yourself. Your own name is meaningless to your future customers and evokes absolutely nothing about your business. If you’re like most of us, your name is either hard to spell, hard to pronounce or hard for people to remember. The only time to use your name as your business name is when it lends itself to wordplay, such as a consultant named Steven Lord. His business is called “Lord Knows!” The Wynn Hotel in Vegas is also a great example of when it makes sense to use your own name.
  • Do not date your business name. Your business is going to be around for a long time, so you don’t want a name that dates it. Classic examples of this are eHarmony, iMotor, Women 2.0, de.licio.us, and Flickr. (When we named eHarmony’s new dating website, we gave it a timeless name: Jazzed.)
  • Make sure your business name is easy to spell and pronounce. As noted above, most of us have to tell people how to spell and pronounce our own names. There’s not a lot we can do about a name we were born with or married into. But when you are naming a company you are starting with a clean slate – don’t start out with a disadvantage by making it difficult for people.
  • Name your business something that will scale to fit any products you introduce. You don’t want to outgrow your business name. What if Amazon had named themselves Bookstore.com? They would be limited to selling books. One name that outgrew itself is Burlington Coat Factory. When they were naming their store, they didn’t think far enough into the future. When they expanded their product offering, they had to change their tagline to, “We’re more than just coats.” (By the way, they also always have to have a legal disclaimer in their ads that says, “Not affiliated with Burlington Industries.” Ouch.)
  • Your name does not need to convey trust and credibility. Just about every client asks us to communicate that their business is “trustworthy,” “credible,” and “high quality.” While important, these brand attributes make for hopelessly boring business names. (An exception is a review website for pet services that we named, “Breed Trust.”) A better way to convey the serious parts of your brand personality is in your identity design and marketing materials. For instance, “credible” and “trustworthy” can be communicated by having customer testimonials (from real people) on your website. And nothing says “high quality,” like a beautiful embossed business card designed by a professional identity designer.
  • Don’t worry about your domain name matching your business name. If you are in the candle business and naming a store Fireworks, just because Fireworks.com is taken, doesn’t mean you have to give up (unless it’s in use by a competitor). Try a modifier like FireworksCandles.com or FireworksOnline.com. Or, get creative with a phrase like “FireworksInTheBedroom.com,” or “FireworksFlickers.com.” (Click here for more Domain Naming Tips.)
  • Monetize your name. If you have a cool enough name, you can slap it on a t-shirt or other merchandise and have people pay you to advertise your brand. We’ve done this for Hand Job (nail spa), Spoon Me (frozen yogurt), Stuff a Sock In It (laundromat), I Have a Bean coffee and others. That’s the value of a great name. It pays for itself many times over.
  • For more practical tips on naming your product and a free name evaluation, take our SMILE and SCRATCH Test, which is based on our philosophy that a name should make you smile, instead of scratch your head.

    Business Naming Services

    At Eat My Words, we name businesses every day and we’re obviously good at it. If you’re exhausted trying to do it yourself, we’d love to help you. Give us a shout at (415) 552-7741 or email info@eatmywords.com.

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