Now that you have dedicated hours and hours of your time to brainstorming possible business names and ruling out dozens of possibilities, you think you have found the ideal brand name at last. Well, you think it’s perfect but how can you be sure?
When coming up with a name your startup, you need to think about more than just your thoughts on the name as the entrepreneur. It is a really good sign if you like it, and equally amazing if your team likes it, but the most important group who needs to like your name is your target audience.
If your brand name fails to generate enough buzz and spark enough interest with your idea customers then all of the time and effort you dedicated to coming up with the perfect business name will be fruitless. Our handy guide for coming up with a business name will guide you through each step of the naming process so that you will get the most out of the time you spend brainstorming a name for your startup.
1. Come up with a bunch of great names
Are you ready to start thinking out of the box and start pulling all of the creative levers in your brain? During this brainstorming step you need to write down each and every business name suggestion you can think up without prematurely judging if the names will be a good fit or not.
Remember that the names you are brainstorming should be simple to write, share with friends and remember. Also, while you’re coming up with names you should perform a simple URL search to double check that there is an URL available. This easy and quick step will prevent you the future heartache of falling in love with the name only to discover that the domain is already taken or way too expensive.
2. Create a shortlist
Now that you have gathered a bunch of different potential names for your new business you can get down to business and commence crossing off the ones that you don’t think would be a good match for your new startup. The point of this step is to cut down your name options until you have narrowed down your list to just four or five promising names.
When creating your shortlist, just go with your gut feeling on these names but be sure to keep your target audience in mind. Of course, it’s important to consider which names you think is a good fit, but it’s also key to think about who you are trying to appeal to and how they would react to your name. For example, millennials may prefer a name that’s fun and exciting that appeals to their youth while older generations like the Baby Boomers may not gravitate towards that type of name.
3. Get feedback from your target demographic
After you have selected a strong group of names from your list, it is now the time to get some outside opinions on which name will be the most successful for your business. When creating your target audience, you can select them based on traits like gender, interests, age, hobbies, and location. Before you ask your target audience any questions, make sure that you give them enough context to let them make a relevant decision when answering your questions. Slow them down by reminding them of what you want your business to do and your values and mission. Before they answer any of your questions you should see your target audience members pause and consider your question and your names rooted in the context of your business.
The worst mistake you could make at this point in this process is to ask members of your target audience, “Do you like any of these names?” That’s an extremely vague and esoteric question. It means very little because without context your business name could mean literally nothing at all. Besides, what does it mean to “like” a brand name? Does that person enjoy the way it looks when written or do you like how it’s pronounced? Do they like that the name is descriptive? Or does your target audience member like the name because it brings up an element of nostalgia? When asking questions to members of your target audience you need to go beyond the basic and subjective territory of “liking” a name.
Here are some great examples of how to word your questions for your target audience:
- Which one of these social media apps are you most likely to download and try?
- Which one of these art supply brands are you most likely to tell a friend about?
These questions are very effective because they push your target audience to pause and think about your brand in the context of what your business does.
In addition, you can write some questions that are based around value propositions.
For example, try questions like these:
- Which one of these names would be the best fit for an independent documentary company that’s focused on innovating storytelling and unique presentation?
- Which of these publishing company names do you feel most embodies prestige and trust?
4. Analyze your results
Now it’s the final step and you can look at your results from the audience testing and make an informed decision on which name will be the most effective for your startup. It’s possible that the results of the testing will surprise you, or maybe they won’t and you were right about your name choice all along. However, it’s extremely common in the thousands of name tests we have done with our customers to find that the perfect name the entrepreneur loved performs awfully with their target audience. This is why audience testing is so important, it really gives you an outside perspective on your potential name.
It is an important step because audience testing can be an additional level to your validation process. Audience testing can help you choose a business name that isn’t awkward or embarrassing. With audience feedback, you can establish which name is your best option to go forward with.
Once your name is all set, you can begin thinking about setting up a company website, marketing and creating a minimum viable product.
Collecting feedback from the people who will be your potential customers is so important because it can aid you in selecting a business name with confidence.
Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Inc 500 company Squadhelp.com, the worlds #1 naming platform, with nearly 20,000 customers from the smallest startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these cool company names.