What you need to know to easily build creative business names

 

 

What’s in a name?

Well, actually a lot.

Coming up with a creative and unique name for your business is a lofty task, but a super important one.  Naming a business never sounds like it’s going to be a hard task.  

But it always is.  

There is so much importance placed in a business name, so we want to get it right the first time. So, let’s go through these steps to come up with some creative business names.

Focus on Your Mission

Before you can start thinking about a business name, you need to be clear on what you will be offering and why.  Starting with a clear focus and mission for your business gives you a better idea of the direction you want to go with your brand.

Your company means a lot of things. Decide first what meaning you want to be most prominent to your potential customers and business partners. Then you can more easily come up with a unique name for your company that has meaning to both you and your customers.

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Get Inspiration from Others

Make a list of creative business names you have encountered in your daily life.  On that business names list, answer these questions:

  • What do you like about them?
  • What do they have in common?
  • What makes them different from each other?

Finding some inspiration from others gives you a good starting point for what you will like for your own business name.

Not finding inspiration from those names?  Try a business name generator.  I’m typically against generators, because they are bland, but they can help provide some inspiration.  Type in a keyword related to your business and see what it has to offer.  

Still stumped?  Let’s move on, then.

Choose Your Style

The most creative business names fall into a few different categories.  You have to decide where you want your company’s name to fall.  

Abstract Company Names:  These are made up names that often smush parts of words together to form a new word.  You can use this style to come up with some really catchy business name ideas!  Examples of these are: SteriPen, Katadyn, Ruffwear, Nehi (does that stuff still exist?), Wal-Mart, and Microsoft.

Descriptive Company Names: These are names that actually describe your business and tell exactly what you do/sell right in the company name.  While seemingly not as creative on the surface, you can still come up with a unique name for a company that is still descriptive.  Examples of these are: Cup o’ Joe, Mountain Equipment Co-op, American Outdoors, General Motors, Home Depot, and United Parcel Service.

Left Field Company Names: These company names are actual words that don’t have anything to do with the business itself, but are recognizable as words.  Examples of these are: Osprey, Platypus, Target, Amazon, and Apple.

Related Words Company Names: These are companies that have named their brand after something related to their industry or company.  Many companies like this are named after their founder.  If you’re naming your company after yourself, you probably aren’t looking for ideas here.  You’ve got that covered.  But, you could name it after something that relates to your industry.  These often are pretty creative business names without being unrecognizable.  Examples of these are: Columbia Sportswear, The North Face, Ford Motors, Dell, and Johnson & Johnson.

Write Down Ideas

This is actually my favorite part of naming a company.  

I like to get a whiteboard and write down words that come to me in describing the company I’m naming.  

Write down words that elicit emotion to you.  If you’re naming a high-end brand, words like luxury or black come to mind.

Write down a whole list of words that you like.  They may not necessarily make it into your business name, but they help in brainstorming.  Make your list as long as you want, but don’t skimp.  These ideas will be used in the next step.

Get a Thesaurus

Okay, this is another fun part!

Take your list of words that you wrote in the last step and bust out the thesaurus.  Or be part of this century and use thesaurus.com

Now, write down synonyms for the words that you came up with in the previous step.  This is where the really fun and creative business names come out!  Even if you are using an abstract company name, you can use these as prefixes or suffixes for your newly coined word.

Again, I use the heck out of the whiteboard on this step.  Put some words together, write down a few prefixes and suffixes, smash them together, erase, do it again.  Come up with a few choices before moving on to the next step.  Try to get at least four names on your business names list.

Sure, it’s time consuming, but you want a unique name for your company, don’t you?

Make Sure it’s Available

OMG, so many people skip this step and it’s a disaster!  

You have to make sure your chosen name is actually available!  Otherwise, you went through all of that for nothing.  This is also why I said to get a few different options on the previous step.  Don’t get your heart set on a business name too soon.  

Okay, now how to check if your company name is available:

  • Go to your Secretary of State website and use the Name Availability Search Tool
  • Google the name you want.  Make sure there are no others with the same name and that you will be easily found when your customers Google your company name.  
  • Check the domain name and make sure it’s available.  
  • Check Social Media.  Look at social media sites to see if your company will easily be able to get handles that are the company name or similar.  While you are on this one, check the length of the handles you want and make sure your business name will fit.  

Make Sure it’s Readable

This should go without saying, but let’s go ahead and say it.  Sometimes when you write these creative business names down, they don’t look quite as good as you thought they were.  

And we don’t want any of this:

 

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We want creative business names, not weird ones.

So write it down, smush it together in a url, write it out several times.  Make sure there aren’t any issues with readability.

Oh, and while you’re at it, make sure your readers can easily pronounce it!  

The last thing you want is to have your potential customers never say your business name because they are afraid they might mispronounce it.  

Get Social Proof

Okay, so you’ve gone through all the previous steps and you think you have a winning business name?  Great!  

Now one last test!

The most important step is to make sure that others see your same vision and agree that it is a unique name for a company.  Put it to the test by putting it on social media.  Facebook Groups are great for this, as there are so many good entrepreneurial groups out there.  Ask your fellow entrepreneurs for input on the business name.

When you do this, don’t give too much background on why you chose this name.  You want this to be a social test.  See if they are able to pick up on your creativity or if you just went a bit too far out.

Congratulations!  Hopefully by the end of this post, you’ve come up with a super creative business name for your company!

 

Let me know in the comments below what you came up with!

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Stephanie Yarbrough

Stephanie Yarbrough

Business Strategist

Hi! I’m Stephanie, small business strategist, business planning superhero, and owner of Portage Consulting.  I live for hiking and snow skiing ...oh, and helping small business and startups develop growth strategies and achieve financial success.

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Stephanie Yarbrough

Stephanie Yarbrough

Business Strategist

Hi! I’m Stephanie, small business strategist, business planning superhero, and owner of Portage Consulting.  I live for hiking and snow skiing ...oh, and helping small business and startups develop growth strategies and achieve financial success.

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