Coming Up With A  Business Name

The Business of Business Naming

Whether you’re a brand new business seeking to grab mind and market share, or an existing company in need of a rebrand, a strong name is essential. And while powerful business names share many features with top drawer product names —both must express key attributes, roll easily off the tongue, have great storytelling power, and be able to leap ever higher trademark and linguistic hurtles—successful business names have extra lifting to do.

Unless the name is for a pure-play company, it must complement a range of products or services. Simultaneously, it must be flexible enough to scale up as the business grows, A great example of this is Amazon. Had Jeff Bezos chosen a business name focused exclusively on his initial offering, the company’s transformation from book seller to the seller of everything would have been far more daunting.

Additionally, in today’s hyper-connected world, a world in which inbound marketing is king, it’s imperative that a business name works with social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. To get a feel for this, imagine tweeting or blogging about Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing or Starbucks Coffee, Tea, and Spice Company (feel the finger fatigue?). Without question, the trimmed down, toned up versions of these iconic companies—3M and Starbucks —are far superior.

Finally, unlike product names, business names are often standalone. Despite repeated efforts by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICAAN) to introduce new top-level domains, dot coms are still the URL gold standard. As such, owners should always try to purchase a desired dot com. However, if that’s not financially feasible, or a dot com is not available for purchase, an intelligent extension can sometimes solve the problem. Moreover, a carefully crafted name extension (e.g. versus Breadbox) can help strategically position a name within its industry, especially an evocative name. In some cases, an extension can even improve search engine ranking. This is a far better way to solve the dot com dilemma than intentional misspellings or the creation of forced sounding words.

In sum, the originality of a business name should not be gauged by cleverness, but rather on how well it captures the company’s character, spirit, and personality. Apple anyone?