You’ve got an amazing business plan, the skillset to match, and an entrepreneurial spirit to set your industry on fire—go you!
But what do you call your business? Naming your business is a daunting task all entrepreneurs have to face in the early days. A name holds a lot of weight, so it can feel intimidating to choose one.
A business name should capture your brand’s purpose and personality while still being simple and easy to remember. In this post, we’re laying out our fool-proof strategy to help you find the business name of your dreams.
Many successful entrepreneurs name their businesses after themselves. It tends to work especially well for solopreneurs in typical “freelancing” careers, such as writers, photographers, or designers. Though people in all sorts of industries can embrace this strategy too—from event planners and restaurateurs to media company CEOs and app developers. It can really help prospects identify with the business as a person they can connect with. But it’s not the right choice for everyone.
It might be a good idea to name your business after yourself if:
If you have plans to bring on a self-sufficient team, build a brand with its own personality (separate from yours), or your ideal clients prefer to hire firms and agencies, think twice before using your name.
Even if your business is a seemingly good fit for naming it after yourself, you can certainly still choose not to. If you have a vision for a brand with a unique name separate from your own, have at it!
Truth be told, using a separate name sometimes helps entrepreneurs see their business as an actual entity, rather than just an extension of themselves. In some cases early on, giving your business a distinct and professional name can even help build credibility, so keep that in mind.
If you decide to use a name other than your own, here’s how to get started!
Inspiration can play a big part in shaping the vision for your business! Before you start brainstorming, look to other business names you already love and ask yourself why you like them.
What elements of them are you drawn to? Are they super catchy? Do they have a feminine, edgy, formal, or playful feeling? Are they professional and clear? Try to articulate why you like them so much so you can think about channeling similar elements in your own business’s name.
Before you dive too deep into the naming process, are there any words you feel like you must incorporate? This often includes clarifying words that signal the type of services or products you provide.
For example, when I created Hello Magic Studio, I knew I wanted to have “studio” or “designs” at the end of my business name because it helps communicate that we provide a creative service. If there are any words you need to integrate into your name to help capture what you do, take note so you can make sure the rest of the name works with it flawlessly.
These next two points are meant to help you get into the creative headspace for finding the perfect business name.
First impressions matter and your business’s name plays a role in that. When you build a brand, you want it to evoke a certain emotional connection with your potential clients. Emotions and brand personality help build brand loyalty, make your brand more memorable, and signal what kind of benefit or experience you’re going to provide.
Once you’ve established the type of feelings and personality you want to portray, write down words that evoke them. For example, if you’re going for a formal, elegant personality, you might jot down words like “night”, “tower”, “crisp” or “sharp” . If you’re going for a whimsical, youthful vibe, you might write down words like “sparks”, “willow”, “lunar” or “sunflower”.
Try to write without editing and see what comes out! You may or may not use these specific words in the end but, either way, they will help you get your creative juices flowing so you find something that effectively captures your brand’s personality.
Do you have a specific word you simply love, not necessarily in relation to your business?
Sometimes certain words just speak to us. You love how they sound, you love what they mean, you love their rhythm. By writing down some words you gravitate towards in general, you get to jot down ideas without being limited by strategy. You never know what might come up without a targeted prompt! You can also break out the old thesaurus to find other words with similar meanings—you may find some gems this way.
Once you get a few on paper, you’ll then be able to evaluate them on various levels to see if they’re actually appropriate for your business. Fun fact: this is how I found the word “magic” for Hello Magic’s name!
Now that you’ve got a few ideas floating around, consider getting extra creative with them (if it fits your brand-to-be’s personality).
Keep in mind, words in other languages or made up words can get tricky to pronounce or spell, so tread carefully! You don’t want to forfeit effectiveness for creativity. If you choose to make up a word or use a foreign one, make sure it’s simple and easy to remember!
At this point, you can start crossing off words that are the least relevant to your business. Then, with the lists you’ve come up with so far, try mixing and matching words to create a name (unless you’re shooting for a one-word name). See how they sound together. Do they flow? Do they make sense? You might choose a combination that isn’t commonly used but works perfectly for your brand. Keep a list of your favourite combinations.
Once you’ve got a solid narrowed-down list, it’s time to evaluate them more carefully on a practical level. First off, the secret to a business name that stands the test of time is picking something that’s descriptive, but not limiting.
You want to capture what your business does but you don’t want it to become irrelevant if you end up changing or expanding your services in the future. For example, imagine you’re a photographer who currently does engagement shoots and you pick a name like “Bride to Be Photography”. It’s definitely clear what you do but what if, in a year or two, you decide to expand to events unrelated to engagements or weddings? You want your name to convey meaning, but not limit your growth.
It’s easy to fall in love with words or combinations of words and then later realize they’re pretty awkward for other people to say, spell, or remember. If it doesn’t have a “ring to it”, people will have a much harder time recalling your brand when they go to search you up or refer you to people in their network. You want your business’s name to make life easier for your prospects, not harder, so cross off the ones that sound the most complicated.
Next, it’s time to dive into Google. Spend some time researching your top names to make sure your competitors don’t share them. If it looks like you copied a competitor’s name, it won’t speak well to your credibility. Plus, if someone in your country is already using a name, you likely can’t even legally use it.
Search the internet, national business name databases, and any existing province/state trade name databases. Cross off any that are already taken by relevant competitors or any that are too similar.
To get you started, here are links to business name databases in several countries:
Do you have a few options you love and are having trouble deciding between them? Firstly, that sounds like a good problem! Secondly, it’s time to call upon outside opinions!
Ask friends, family, or even total strangers about their initial impressions. Ask if they find the name confusing and what sort of emotion each option evokes. See what the general favourite is and take this into consideration.
That said, you want to make sure you’re totally satisfied with the name yourself, so trust your gut. If your friends and family end up choosing a name you don’t love, it probably wasn’t actually one of your favourites to start with! You want to choose a name that appeals to other people, but you also want to love it yourself.
Got your dream business name picked out? Yay! Now it’s time to make things official.
In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to have a business without a website. So make sure there’s a domain available for your name. Keep in mind, you can leave your byline out of the domain if needed because you don’t want it to be too long. For example, if you’re a photographer, it’s not necessary to include the word “photography” in the domain (www.yourname.com is totally fine and makes no difference to SEO).
If .com isn’t available, consider other options like .co or .io which still have high credibility. Alternatively, you can also return to the drawing board to see if there are any modifications you can make to your name, such as reconsidering an alternate spelling. It’s much better to figure this out early on before you invest money into your chosen name.
If you’re determined to have a .com website but it isn’t available and you don’t want to alter the name you’ve picked out, you may be able to buy the domain from whoever currently owns it (this is much more likely if it appears to be an inactive website, of course). You’ll have to figure out who owns the domain and approach them with an offer.
Once you’ve got a business plan and a name picked out, it’s time to start building your online home! Hello Magic Studio offers brand strategy and identity development, website design, SEO, and copywriting packages to bring your business to life. Check out our services to learn more.