How to name things

How to choose a great product or company name

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Choosing a great name for your company or one of its products is a daunting task. Once established, a name can be hard to change and a poorly chosen name can deter customers.

Find out what the trends are and why they work. Look at other successful companies and consider how their name relates to what their business does.

Maybe you have an obvious choice, but maybe not. These steps will help to illuminate the best choice in a name for you.

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Brainstorm

There are many ways to have a brainstorming session.

  • Gather a group and have them write down ideas or shout them out.
  • Pull up the dictionary and a thesaurus in your browser and start typing word associations.
  • Have your family sit down and help.
  • Think of personal stories and make them into a name.
  • Think about your services or products. Pick names that describe them somehow.
  • Make up words.

Compile all your thoughts, including bad ones, into a list.

Delete

After you have a healthy list of options, throw out the ones you know you hate. Then, keep a good black marker handy to scribble out the ones that won't work for any of the following reasons:

  • Determine your message. Decide what you want the name to tell people about your company. How literal do you want the name to be? What tone do you want it to have? Get rid of names that don’t line up.
  • Cross out impractical names. Do you want to expand or sell? Consider the practicalities and throw out names that don’t match your mission.
  • Avoid common mistakes. Check your list for names that fit the description of a bad name and identify common mistakes.
  • Check availability of domain names. Taken domain names can be expensive to acquire. You want to be aware of the availability for any names you’re considering or the price to get them.
  • Check the names against other businesses. You don’t want to copy anyone. Google your names to see if competitors or companies in other industries have similar names.
  • Test contenders. When you have a solid list, test the names in real situations.
  • Practice saying the name as if you were having a business conversation.
  • Say the names to friends and colleagues and find out which names spark interest.
  • Type the names in different fonts to see if you can envision the name on letterhead.

Pick

Eventually, you just have to pick. Remember that you could be saying the name for years so make sure it’s a name you are proud to say every day.

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