A company’s brand identity is one its most important assets.
The name is often the first impression a potential new client will have so it needs to both stand out and if possible, fit in with the company’s product or service.
According to Brandz Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands, Apple, Google, IBM, MacDonald’s and Coca-Cola are the five biggest brand names in 2013. Each company name stands out to consumers because it is unique in its industry, easy to pronounce and interesting.
Below are 6 suggestions on how to create a great business name.
How to start
Companies are paid a lot of money to create brand names because coming up with a unique one is not easy. The first step is to describe what your company does and put down in writing the goals of the business.
If nothing stands out, use a thesaurus to see whether there are any related words that might sound appealing to customers. Keep in mind that a name should be the simplest, most direct way to describe the business, and it should make sense when someone hears it for the first time. For example, Australian brand name Flight Centre can be easily identified as being part of the leisure/holiday industry, while consumers know that Origin Energy is part of the energy sector because of its name.
Use an acronym
If the name for the business is too long or hard to pronounce, think about turning it into an acronym.
Some of the world’s leading companies have only one or two letters in their name. BP stands for British Petroleum while KPMG contains the first initial of the four people who started the accounting firm.
Take the first letter of each word and see if it spells another word that could be used as a name. Try to keep the acronym simple and make sure it's easy to remember.
Make the new business name unique and memorable. Take a simple idea and be creative with it. The goal is make the name attention-grabbing.
Carolyn Cresswell, owner of a multimillion dollar food business, originally planned to call her company “Home-made muesli”. Deciding this wasn’t creative enough, she and her then partner came up with Carman’s Fine Foods, with Carman being the combination of their two first names, Carmen and Manya.
Keep it simple
Don't make the business name hard to spell or pronounce. If the business is likely to expand into foreign markets, check that there aren’t any unfortunate alternate meanings when it’s translated into a different language. When American fast food company Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) opened its first restaurant in China, the company’s slogan “Finger-lickin’ good” was originally translated into “We’ll eat your fingers off” in Mandarin. Needless to say, the company quickly changed its slogan in that country.
Make a shortlist
Pick the top five business name ideas and share them with friends, family and colleagues to see if they have any opinions or suggestions. Imagine each of the shortlisted names as part of a logo, on a business card, as a website URL and so forth to see how they might fit into the business’ branding.
Check the trademark
Finally, check to see whether the preferred business name is available, or if it’s being used by another company. The last thing an owner needs when starting a new business is to discover that another company has already registered the name, so do a trademark search (or have one done by a professional) to make sure the name is available. Also ensure you are across all applicable local laws and regulations around registering a business.
While you’re at it, search online to find out whether a website domain for the name is available. Then consider how the website will look with the new name and/or logo. As with foreign languages, make sure there are no unfortunate alternative readings of the url. Note that e-commerce websites need to comply with copyright laws governing images, photographs, text and software.