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5 Suggestions for Naming Your Online Store

An online store's name is one of its most important assets and a potent part of your company brand. In some sense the business name can define your business identity.

Since business naming is so important, you don’t want to simply draw a name out of a hat or let your eight-year-old pick the name (children can be a great source of inspiration though, in some cases). What follows are five suggestions for naming your online store. These suggestions do not constitute everything there is to know about naming and branding. But, this article should help any new online entrepreneur start with the right direction.

1. Decide What You Want to Communicate

The first step toward a great business name is to decide what you want that business name to say to prospective customers about your business.

Once you have a general idea of what you want to communicate, try writing your message out in a single sentence. Then make that sentence shorter and shorter until you have just one or two words.

2. Make it Easy to Pronounce

In many cases, online startups will have one or two major geographic regions or cultures in mind when they market. So it makes sense to choose a business name that customers from those cultures or regions can easily pronounce.

For specific examples, you probably would not want to name your online store Tadhg, Galifianakis, Miele, or Keneuoe — which are all real names of businesses or people — if you were trying to sell into English speaking markets.

3. Try a Name Strategy

You may want to consider one of several naming strategies or techniques that have been popular lately.

  • Using real words that have a meaning you want to communicate.
  • Reasonable misspellings, like "Flickr."
  • Make up words that sound real like "Zappos," which is similar to the Spanish word for shoes, zapatos.
  • Make up a completely whimsical name.
  • Blend real words with prefixes and suffixes.
  • Use a personal or family name.
  • Make it memorable without detracting from the other strategies listed in this article.

4. Check for Competition

You should also consider what your competitors are named. For example, Motorola and Microsoft produce the "Xoom" (pronounced zoom) and "Zune" MP3 players respectively. These names do sound similar, perhaps even too similar.

The goal here is to have a name that is on par with the competition or better. It should also be differentiated so that there is no way customers can confuse your business with other competitors.

5. Test Your Name

When you have narrowed a list of prospective names to five or less, consider running some tests. Show the list to a group that is representative of your target customer. This group might be people you can find in your community, or you may need to use an online survey.

As an example, if you are trying to sell to teens that ride skateboards, make sure that you test names with people from that group. Never assume you know how customers will react to a particular name. Likewise, if your store will aim at brides, ask brides or newlyweds about the names.

Summing it Up

A store’s name is an important part of its identity, so an entrepreneur should not take the naming process lightly — like picking names out of a hat. Knowing what the business name should convey and being mindful of customers will go a long way toward selecting a good one. A good business name can also boost your business in ways you cannot imagine. This is very important since social media may play a major part in growth opportunities as your business gets rolling.


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