How to choose a brand name now that you won't regret later

Wouldn’t it be great if there was somewhere you could go to find the perfect name for your business? Like Starbucks and a name generator all wrapped in one, where you could order the perfect thing?

If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve probably found yourself wishing for this more than once. Because having a great idea for a company is one thing, but finding the perfect name is a whole other ballgame.

After all, names are important; you can have a fantastic product, a great business plan, and the world’s most effective marketing research. But if your company’s name is just plain boring, how do you expect to stand out from competitors? 

So, let’s imagine that this blog is a bite-sized boot camp to help you choose your perfect name. Here are our top tips for naming your new company.

Tips to choose the best name for your new business

1. It doesn’t have to do what it says on the tin

Maybe you remember Ronseal and its famous catchphrase, “Does exactly what it says on the tin”? It’s not hard to see the value in such on-the-nose branding; in theory, if a product is named after exactly what it does, you can imagine that customers will be more likely to remember it. 

But is that really the most effective approach? While that strategy can sometimes be helpful, it’s not the only - or even the most effective - branding tactic out there.

In fact, just consider some very common household names like Starbucks, Apple, Google, and Domino's. 

We refer to these businesses by their brand names; they’re an integral part of our daily lives and conversations. We even use some of these names as a verb by saying things like, “I’ll just Google it” or “Fancy a Domino’s?” 

Yet, interestingly enough, none of these brand names tell you anything about what their primary product is or does.

Prior to being popularised by wildly successful corporations, no one would ever have assumed that the name Starbucks equals coffee, that apples have anything to do with technology, or that pizza and dominoes are even remotely related.

Apple's founder, Steve Jobs, confessed that he chose the name on a whim because he thought it sounded "fun, spirited and not intimidating”. And if we’re being honest, “Google” just sounds like a creature from Star Trek!

So, take a lesson from their success and don’t get too caught up in overly specific branding.

2. Capture the ethos of your company

Choosing a unique and catchy name like Google or Apple definitely has its appeal and it could work really well for your startup. But just as you want to avoid brand names that are a little too on the nose, you also don’t want to be too out there or too caught up with following trends.

While a unique, one-word name may be the right fit for you, don’t feel pressured to go that route if it just doesn’t suit your brand. 

For example, if your startup makes elegant table settings and traditional home decor products, a deliberately misspelt name like Flickr or Tumblr, is unlikely to align with your style. 

At the end of the day, trends come and go - you want a name that stands the test of time, but more importantly, one that resonates with your business and what it stands for.

So, focus first and foremost on the ethos of your company and the impression you want your startup’s name to convey.

3. Keep it simple

Names that are weirdly spelt or overly specific are rarely the right choice. In theory, it’s fun to put a unique twist on a well-known word, but calling your business “Kewl” is the company name equivalent of naming your child KVIIIlyn. 

Yes, that really is “Kaitlyn” spelt out in Roman numerals, and yes, a real parent actually did that.

Now, there's nothing wrong with injecting a bit of personality, and yes, a unique brand name can help your business appear higher up the list in search results - but you don't want to confuse customers either - if they can't spell it they may struggle to search for it.

In short, make sure that whatever brand name you choose is easy to remember, easy to spell, and easy to find online.

4. Ask for feedback

If you think you’ve come up with a great idea for a name, getting feedback is one of the best things you can do. So, ask your friends and family what they think of your prospective names.

You can even try online surveys or ask people in the street to see what impression they get from the names you’re considering. 

This is a great way to assess potentially negative connotations, similarities to other brand names, or anything that gives off a bad vibe.

Often, other people notice things that have fallen in your blind spot, so it can be helpful to hear what others think.

5. Reserve the domain name

Once you’ve found the perfect name, work on trademarking it and reserving the domain name. But first, you’ll want to make sure that this name hasn’t already been reserved by another company you just haven’t heard of!

So, do some research to make sure you have the legal rights to use and/or trademark this name. 

Assuming everything is legally in the clear, the next thing you want to do is register the domain name.

Reserving your company’s domain name as “.com” is super important for your future success because this will help you rank higher in search results, be easier to find, and add legitimacy to your site. 

Registering domain names and doing legal research might not be as much fun as brainstorming the perfect name, but it’s definitely an important step in the process. 

Repeat the process for social media platforms too. Even if you're not sure which channels you're going to prioritise and grow first, secure as many as you can just in case.

You may have to add prefixes or suffixes like 'weare' or 'HQ'.

Brand Name Bootcamp takeaways

There’s no doubt about it: choosing a brand name is difficult and it’s a decision that only you and your founding team can make.

And while it's a pain, changing your brand name is not impossible. So if in a few years' time the name no longer works for you, don't panic.

While it would be awesome if this blog could solve all your naming questions, naming your startup is ultimately a deeply personal decision and you’ll want the satisfaction of finding the perfect name yourself. 

Chosen a name? Make it official! Launch your limited company today