Naming your brand is a major step for any entrepreneur and comes with a unique set of challenges.
The name you choose says a lot about your brand. It can tell potential customers who you are. It should be simple, yet intriguing. And your name needs to allow continuous growth, expansion and evolution.
Because words have meaning and names have power, your name should be memorable and impactful. It should draw people in and make them want to learn more about your brand. It should tell a story that creates an instant emotional response in people - so make sure it's a positive one.
A great name is a blend of strategy, linguistic analysis, research and creativity all mixed together to deliver a clear message of who you are and why you're different.
But once you've made a list of possible names that you're happy about, your work isn't done yet. Before spending time and money marketing your new name, address these 5 elements before settling on the right name for your brand.
1. Check for domain availability
So, you've made a list of names that sound good and look great but when you're searching to see if the URL is available, you realize it's already taken. It could already be in use by a different company, or someone else could simply own it - people buy domains all the time, especially ones with short names, just so they can resell them.
When you're looking for a domain, you should try to find one with a .com instead of a lesser-known extension. A dotcom is more trustworthy, especially for people who aren't particularly tech-savvy. It will also make your domain sound more authoritative since people assume dotcom domains are more serious and legitimate.
But you have to understand that you can't get a domain that's a real word or even two blended words – most of these are for sale and they can cost millions of dollars. One alternative is to add another word to the domain name to see if it's available. For example, Tesla used the domain teslamotors.com for many years until it was eventually able to get tesla.com
Also, don't choose your brand name based on domain availability — you shouldn't choose or change your brand name just because a domain is free.
2. Think of how the URL will sound
Once you find a URL that's available (or have the budget to buy an existing one), make sure it sounds good, is easy to spell and is easy to read. In most cases, there shouldn't be any problems - unless you realize that the URL might actually have a bad connotation.
For example, I was helping a client redesign his logo and website. His business was called Therapist Rising, which, at first glance, is a great name. But when I took a look at his website, therapistrising.com, I realized that the URL could also be read as "The Rapist Rising." That, obviously, has a very negative connotation, so I suggested he rename the business before moving ahead with the other elements.
3. Don't discount trademark issues
One of the biggest pitfalls companies run into is finding a name that's available for legal use. So, it's essential to perform a trademark check before moving forward with the name. While you might be tempted to say you'll do that later, I've had a few companies reach out to me to help them find new names because they were facing lawsuits.
A potential legal battle isn't the only problem you can run into. Rebranding is costly, disruptive and causes customer confusion. You'll have to develop a new brand identity and potentially recall any launched products.
4. Take a multilingual approach
After investing so much time into finding the right name, the last thing you need is to fall in love with a name that has inappropriate or offensive connotations for some of your target market. Before you completely settle on a name, consider whether it's appropriate for your brand mission and the cultures you'll be connecting with. The best way to do this is by hiring a linguistic expert who can do a full analysis of your name, or you can do it yourself by researching your name's translated meaning in different cultures.
5. Consider how others will pronounce and spell it
You should feel free to get as creative as possible when you're brainstorming name ideas for your business...after all, you want it to stand out and to attract your audience. Many of my clients want their name to be catchy, but you need to make sure your audience will catch your intention. If the spelling or pronunciation is confusing, your clients might not be able to find you - or they won't be able to understand what your business is all about.
Consider brand names like Cerave or IKEA. You might think you know how these are supposed to be pronounced, but perform a quick Google search and you might discover you're wrong.
So, before settling on a name, ask around to see how people pronounce it.
When I was launching my naming agency, I decided to call it NamePoise. It's made out of two real words that are short, easy to spell and easy to pronounce. The first word hints at what my agency does, while the second word, "Poise," talks about my mission. From the get-go, potential clients understand that my agency creates poised, polished and powerful names.