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Is Your Business Name Good? Here’s How to Tell

By: Jenna Cyprus


Choosing name for baby girl. Adorable newborn in cradle, view from above

Coming up with a business name is tough. You want something clever, but not something so esoteric that most people don’t understand it. You want something that captures the personality of your brand, but you also need to keep it short enough that it’s easy to remember.

You might be able to come up with a few ideas for the name of your business immediately. But are any of these business ideas good enough? And if so, how can you tell?

The Business Naming Process

First, let’s go over the business naming process. It’s important to follow all of these steps if you want to come up with the best possible business name.

  • The brainstorming process forces you to come up with a variety of different business name ideas. If you try to run with the first idea that comes to mind, you’ll likely be missing out on some serious potential. Instead, make sure you explore several different possibilities.
  • From this long list of business name ideas, you should work to narrow things down on your own. Throw out the worst contenders and focus on the candidates with the most promising features.
  • It’s not enough to trust your instincts. You have to research your business names and test them in a live environment. Are there any competitors who currently have a name like this? What do people in your target demographics think of this name?
  • Finally, you’ll need to learn how to register a business name. When you’re left with one ultimate candidate – the one – you can move forward with the formal naming process.

The Hallmarks of a “Good” Business Name (and How to Test)

So what is it that makes for a “good” business name? And how can you test your name to see if it fits?

  • Good business names are short. In fact, the shorter the better. Short business names are easier to spell, they’re easier to remember, and they’re often easier to pronounce. Plus, you’ll be able to score a shorter, more popular domain, and in many cases, you’ll spend less money on marketing. Don’t make your customers struggle to remember your obscenely long name; make it easy for them with one or two words and minimal letters in each word.
  • It should go without saying that your business name needs to be original. If your name sounds like the name of another business, they’re going to get confused – even if the other business is in an entirely different industry. That doesn’t mean you have to invent a new word from scratch, but you should have some kind of unique angle.
  • The name of your business should be descriptive or evocative in some way. It doesn’t necessarily have to spell out the nature of your business, but it should imply what your business does. For example, does it evoke a certain feeling? Does it sound like it belongs to a certain industry?
  • Easy spelling. If you speak this name aloud to someone for the first time, will they be able to spell it intuitively? This is an easy one to test. Get a test audience together and ask them to spell your business name without prompt. If they consistently struggle, it’s a bad sign.
  • Easy pronunciation. You can also conduct a reverse test (with a different audience, of course). If they see your business name written and spelled accurately, will they be able to pronounce it easily? If they struggle, it means your marketing and advertising could be rendered ineffective. Strive for both easy spelling and easy punctuation.
  • Politeness and positivity. Your business name should be polite and associated with positive things. Double check that no fragment of your business name is offensive in any way; does your business name sound like a swear word? Does it rhyme with something offensive? Does it remind people of some negative event? If so, avoid it and find something different.
  • Finally, your business name needs to have a kind of personality of its own. What is the character of your brand? If your company were a person, what would it be like? And does your name capture these characteristics in some way?

The Research Phase

Most people can come up with a list of possible business names, but only some people go through the effort of testing them. Make sure you do your research thoroughly; that means looking online to see if there are any businesses with similar names and working with a test audience to see what they think of your ideas. Don’t be afraid to invest both time and money here; it’s worth it to come up with a name that’s truly good enough for your brand.

Published: February 12, 2021

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Jenna Cyprus

Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer and business consultant who covers business, technology, and entrepreneurship. She's lectured for several universities, and worked with over 100 businesses over the course of the last 15 years. She's a mother of two kids, and loves to go camping, hiking, and skiing with her family.

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