Shakespeare was not a business owner. To say a rose by any other name would smell as sweet might be poetic, but would it sell flowers? That is the question.
Whether your business is just starting out, or changing its name to signal a new business direction, merger, or other shift, there are some basic guidelines every savvy namer should know:
- Easy on the eyes and ears. If no one can say or spell your company or product name, what good is it to you? “Chthonic Chronicles” might be what your website devoted to Greek statuary sells, but who’ll remember that strange spelling, or know how to pronounce it? Big campaign signs, especially, need to be mentally memorable at 55 mph.
- Catchy. It might make more sense to call your Greek figurines site something simple to spell, such as, “It’s Greek To Me”, or “We Speak ‘Greek!'” Now that would be eye-catching on a sandwich board or banner!
- Room to grow. “Aloha Awnings” makes a great title for a company’s Hawaii headquarters, but a different moniker might play better on the mainland. Create your name with future expansion or relocation in mind: “North Bay Realty” gives you more room to expand using the same business name than does “Windsor Realty,” which is more localized.
- Consider cross-cultural connotations. The sad tale of Chevy Nova south of the border may be apocryphal, but it’s nonetheless noteworthy: the car reportedly bombed in Mexico, because in Spanish, “No va” means “doesn’t go.”
- Availability. There’s no point in coming up with a terrific name only to discover the domain is taken, or the name’s been trademarked. Check out your favorite ideas with a domain registrar.
Beyond these essentials, what’s the best way to come up with the right name?
- Get symbolic. Metaphor can be a powerful naming tool. Start with your business’s or product’s main function, and make a list of what else performs the same action. That’s how a software company, in considering what copied files besides a flash drive, came up with the product name, “Mime.” Consider how much fun you could have with a human directional, pointing the way to “Mime” with a Spinner Sign!
- Change the spelling. It worked for Netflix.
- Visit your competition. It would be a shame to dream up a fantastic name only to find a competitor using one that’s achingly similar. By the same token, checking out what they’ve done can help you spin off in an entirely new direction.