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Three ways to come up with the perfect business name

So you’ve got the perfect business in mind, but you can’t think of the perfect name for it. Here are three approaches to get you unstuck.

Sometimes coming up with the right name can be harder than coming up with the business, or product, itself. Here are three methods you can use to get the ball rolling.

The Collaborative Session

If you’ve been struggling to come up with a name, rope in some friends. Get everyone together and start talking. It can be surprising how different perspectives can help inspire an idea.

Make sure you don’t invite too many people though; an avalanche of ideas can be as intimidating as none.

Remember it’s your business, so you have the power to pick and choose and even veto options on the basis that you don’t like them. But if everyone hates the name you do go for, you might have to rethink. You won’t be selling your products to yourself, after all.

Pro tip: grab friends who have varying interests, hobbies and occupations. It’s not uncommon to find yourself staring at a problem from one angle, and different people can have surprisingly simple solutions.

The Word Party

We’re talking as many words as possible, no matter how silly they sound!

Think about your business. If you’re planning on selling kitchenware, write down every kitchen related word you can think of.

You’ll end up with a long list of obvious words, but the fun starts when you start playing with them. There are a few easy things you can do, like running them through a simple translator. Or, you could cut them in half and mash different words together. You might strike gold.

The key to coming up with business names is that you don’t want to limit yourself. Even if you’re only planning to sell sporks, you might find yourself branching out into knives in the future. Naming your business SporkSeller now could mean you’ll have to rebrand down the track, something you should aim to avoid.

Be careful not to throw away ideas as soon as you have them. Often, we throw away ideas that could be interesting with a little development. Having things on paper in front of you means you can get a much clearer oversight of potential names.

The key to coming up with a business name is not to limit yourself. Even if you only sell sporks now, that could change. Naming your business SporkSeller could mean a need to rebrand down the track.

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The Count Down

Grab a phone and sit down alone or with some friends. Set your alarm to go every minute for five minutes, and force yourself to write down an idea every time it buzzes. Then, do it a few more times over the course of a couple of days.

No matter how odd your ideas are, the countdown method is all about quantity over quality. Often, your brain starts shouting suggestions when under pressure.

Once you’ve got a bucket full of ideas, you can go back over them and trim until you’re left with the winners.

I’ve got my idea, now what?

First run it past this checklist, to prevent any problems down the track:

- Is your business name idea too similar to an existing business in your market? In that case you might not even be allowed to register it. Just google your name by putting it in quotes such as “my business name” and see what comes up. If your preferred name is found thousands of times, pick something else.

- Is your name difficult to pronounce? It’s all well and good if a word looks ace on paper, but if your employees and friends have to guess how to say it, it’s not a winner.

- Is it written like it’s said? If someone can’t write out your business name after hearing it, you might have to change it to avoid losing word of mouth customers.

- Is it available as an Internet address? If it’s already taken, look for something else. Domain name registrars often automatically suggest name alterations - may be one of those will suit you.

A good idea is to get feedback from a few people to make sure that you haven’t overseen something by accident. It's best if these people come from your desired demographic. Words which mean one thing to you could mean something else to them. A perfectly harmless word might mean something very different to someone else.

If you’ve passed all the steps and you’re feeling confident, congratulations! You might still want to do a trademark search to be on the safe side. But otherwise, you’re looking good.

Register your name with your local authorities and get your domain name registered at the same time, so you don’t lose it.

If you still can’t come up with a name idea, don’t fret. Go back through our three methods and try again. You can train your mind to come up with ideas by repeating the process!

And always remember: A business name doesn’t make or break your business - you do. If you can not come up with a name you absolutely love, pick your street name and get started.

No name can save a bad business idea, lack of work ethics or an inability to sell or market your products and services. But a not quite perfect name is unlikely to stop you from succeeding.

Lena Klein

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