What’s in a Name?

This week I’ve been working with someone to develop their brand name. It is a bit of a process, but a fun one! If
you’re considering starting a business, changing your brand name, or know someone who is, take a look at these tips on creating a GREAT business name.
  1. Brainstorm. How do you want people to feel when they hear the name? Write down those words on paper.
  2. Relate. Using the list you’ve created, think about related words and phrases that evoke the feelings you want.Now use the thesaurus and find all the synonyms for your words and phrases.
  3. Relate more. What are the Greek and Latin translations of your words? What colors, gemstones, plants, animals, etc., relate to your words.
  4. Experiment. Start mixing the various words and partial words to see what you can create.
  5. Reflect. Review your list and just give some thought to each name. How does it make you feel when you hear it?
  6. Communicate. Ask someone you trust to go over the list. How does each name make them feel? Does it resonate with them? Can they remember it?
  7. Prioritize. Throw out any that just don’t fit and make a prioritized list of the rest.
  8. Check trademarks. Make sure no one is using that name in your line of business. You may be able to use the name in a completely different business, but be aware that it may create confusion for both you and them.
  9. Check domain names. You want to make sure that an appropriate domain name is available. You want YourCompanyName.com, of course. If that’s not available, you may want to reconsider.
  10. Search the internet. Even if someone doesn’t have the domain, you still want to see what else is out there that has the same name. That doesn’t mean you don’t use it if you find something, but you need to know.
  11. Check company names. If you’re planning to incorporate, check with the Secretary of State (or other appropriate office outside the U.S.) of the state you’re planning to incorporate in. For Virginia, that is the SCC.
  12. Stake your claim! Register your assumed name or file your incorporation papers right away. Also, start using either TM (trademark) or SM (service mark). You do NOT have to register them to use them.
  13. Get the domain(s). Find an inexpensive registrar, like GoDaddy, and register your domain and any obvious variations on it.
  14. Protect your brand. A U.S. trademark or service mark costs $325. It’s a drop in the bucket compared to trying to defend it later. It’s not really necessary, though, for a small local business.
Tips:
  1. Avoid generic names based on names, such as Joe’s Bar, Sam’s Hardware, etc. They’re not memorable and are nearly impossible to trademark.
  2. Avoid generic names that literally describe the product or service, like Computer Consulting Company, Appliance Sales and Service, Inc., etc.
  3. Generally, avoid geographical names. Besides not generally being very memorable, what happens if you decide to move or expand? The exception is if you’re trying to create a strong local affinity like, say, a neighborhood bar.
  4. Preferably, don’t restrict future product or service lines. Be broad enough to include your wildest long-term vision for the business.
  5. Try to keep the name short and easy to pronounce.

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