How to Name Your Business, a Brainstorming Guide

You finally decided that you’re going to take that leap, you’re going to start your own business. Ideas start rushing in faster than you can remember them, adrenaline fills your body, plans start being put to into text with frantic typing of the keyboard and then it all comes to a screeching halt. You have no name. It’s a downer and it often quite literally brings things to a complete stop. You can’t file the paperwork, you can’t buy the domain, and you have no idea what the logo will be. What’s having your own business without a cool logo you can show off to all your friends. Because you don’t have the big funds to shell out to branding experts, you resort to “Insert Last Name Here” Incorporated, or “Insert City and Boring Industry Here” LLC. That’s the worst things you can name your business. It’s boring, lacks effort, lacks creativity, and is the exact opposite of everything it means to be an entrepreneur.

There is, however, good news. Coming up with a name for your business isn’t a blessing that comes from the marketing gods in the form of a lightning storm. There are steps that you can take to create a business name that you will love, and your customers will fall in love with.

Here are some brainstorming tips for  you to name your business.

Define Your Business

The first thing you want to do when trying to come up with a name is to define your business. This will help get the ideas flowing. Not just the industry that you’re in but what you’re doing for your customers. If you own a marketing agency what you do isn’t just marketing. You help your clients reach their customers, deliver their message, and help them make a larger impact in their niche. Whatever your business, start by writing down a list of things that you do for your customers while keeping the fact that you’re trying to come up with a name in mind. Sometimes you can come up with something brilliant with this step. However, don’t stop even if you think you found a winner. This step will be the foundation for every technique below. You must first define what you do.

Make it Personal

Please do not include your last name, or your first name, or your dog’s name, anywhere in your business name. When I say make it personal, that is the last thing I’m recommending. The next step you want to take is the time to reflect on who you are and why you’re in this business. To illustrate the point, here‘s how the name for The Thinker’s Tantrum was born.

I had the concept and idea behind the venture but I had no idea what I was going to call it. Since initially it was going to be just me, it had to be something that resonated with who I am and the kind of like minded individuals that I wanted to attract. I spent weeks coming up with one horrible name after another, but being familiar with the creative process I didn’t let it discourage me, and neither should you, ever.

Then the day came. It felt like any other day that would end in a successful failure to come up with anything worthwhile. That is until 9 pm. My brother and I were sitting in the office ready to wrap up our day when the topic of the name came up again. He said a few very powerful words: “It has to be something that is YOU…you’re a thinker.” In that moment, everything in my brain exploded and the name came rushing to be in a moment of eureka. “It’s a place for thinkers to vent, to throw their tantrum” I said to myself. “The Thinker’s Tantrum” I said out loud. Viola!

Find something that defines you and add it to the list. At this point you may have your first, or another winner, but don’t stop yet.

Name Your Business

Going Back to Grade School

The third step is to go back to all those years in English class you thought you would never need because you thought as soon as you graduated high school you’d become an entrepreneur and make your first billion before you turned 20. “Who needs homework? I’ll just hire everyone.”

When coming up with a business name, English can help.

Homonyms and Homophones

Homonyms and Homophones can provide an interesting play on words to add a little fun to your name. Just in case you need a refresher course, here are the definitions.

homonym business name

 

Play with all the names you have thought of and think of words that either sound the same and mean different or are the same and can have a double meaning. For example, think of a company that helps men with a bald or receding hairline. When you’re losing hair, your hairline receding. What you help clients do is regrow their hair. So, turned into a homophone of what you do and you can call the hair therapy company “Reseed.” As in your re seeding their hair for growth and you’re helping those who are experiencing hair loss. If that’s not fun and creative I don’t know what is. I wouldn’t run with it, but its a start. Experiment with this in your field.

Alliteration

It wouldn’t be appropriate to write an article about picking a cool business name on a website called The Thinker’s Tantrum without including alliteration. Here is what alliteration is.

alliteration

Once you’ve defined yourself, your business, and did some brainstorming, try at brainstorming some names that include alliteration. If you start thinking I’m crazy to consider all the companies whose products you either use or come in contact with on a daily basis that use alliteration. Have a look:

  1. PowerPoint
  2. Best Buy
  3. Dunkin Donuts
  4. American Airlines
  5. Coca-Cola
  6. Muscle Milk
  7. BlackBerry

Okay maybe BlackBerry you don’t come in contact with anymore. This doesn’t take away from the fact that the list of companies who have used alliteration goes on and on, from Kit Kat to Cleveland Cavaliers.

Double Meaning and Wordplay

As you’re reading and trying to come up with something, remember that the first step is to define yourself and your business. That’s the foundation that will help you come up with a good name. A great option to explore is double meaning. When coming up for the name of my first startup I remember being obsessed with the concept of chance. Little did I know it would later become the perfect catalyst for what I consider, one of the best brand names ever. I may be a little biased, but I bet you’ll agree once you know what it is.

I remember it clear as day. My partner and I were sitting outside of a Starbucks on a cold day, which is 70 degrees in Florida. We were discussing what we should call our startup and we started the same way I recommend you start: define what you do. We were grinding it out trying to crystallize what exactly this is all about. Then one of us said “well it’s about insuring the chance that something may happen to you, that’s what insurance is.” Of course, you insure, chance, with insurance. InsureChance!

Eureka!  Followed by doubt. After hundreds of years of insurance companies in existence, there is no way that name, and domain, aren’t taken already. No way at all. Impossible. The doubt was followed by a few taps of a smartphone on GoDaddy.com which showed the magical words: “this domain is available.” We now had a brand name worth millions in our hands for just over $10. Not only did it directly sound like the word insurance, but it has a double meaning, it defines what we do and sounds like exactly what we do, zero confusion. It’s a perfect trigger and play on words that was the result of a simple brainstorming session.

Rhymes and Acronyms

Rhyming isn’t just fun, it also makes things much easier to remember. If your business name rhymes it’ll be much easier to remember for your customers. Remember that song that last got stuck in your head? Its back now that you read that question, isn’t it? Sorry. But that’s what rhymes do and many popular brands like StubHub, 7 Eleven, and Fit Bit all rhyme. So, define your business and flex your rapper muscle, it’s time to bust a rhyme.

Acronyms and shorts provide an easy way out. Just take what you do and think of a quick acronym or shortened version for it. Take Federal Express for example. Don’t know who that is? Of course, you do, they probably deliver half of all your packages and are today known as FedEx. Or you can look to American Telephone and Telegraph for an example. More popular as At&t. Things get really crazy when we mention the Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO.

come up with business name

When All Else Fails, Go Latin

If some how you still haven’t been able to come up with something you love, then that means your business name is destined to live among the Greek gods. I’m half kidding. One technique I’ve found useful in the past is trying to find a Latin word that defines what the business is about. In some instances, it can provide for an awesome name, and in most cases, a great logo idea. I would only recommend this for more traditional business where a ‘strong’ name is required. Latin meaning behind words evoke a philosophical feeling. If you’re doing something light hearted like selling puppies, stay away from Latin. However, if you’re an online construction retailer, you may have some luck finding something that makes you seem tough as nails. Pun intended, because I’m punny like that.

Do it Your Way

The best advice I can give you is to use this as a guide but do it your way. You can either take this step by step, choose one thing to focus on, or just combine all of the above. What you must absolutely do is brainstorm.

Brainstorm

At the end of the day a good name can come to you after 5 minutes or 5 days. Don’t rush the process and put in the work. It will take some brainstorming but this isn’t something you want to dismiss. Your business name is the first thing a customer comes in contact with, make sure it displays an aura of effort and creativity, not laziness. All the success I have ever had coming up with a name has been the result of rigorous brainstorming. You’ll know its the one when  you fall in love with it. You will come up with many names you like, don’t settle for those. Keep thinking, keep brainstorming, it will come. Trust the process.

Most founders out there don’t try when it comes to picking business names, not even large conglomerates. Either because they’re lazy or they think it won’t affect the bottom line. Put in a little extra effort and stand out from the crowd. Just remember:

Creativity is hard work, not a stroke of insight.

If after all of that you’re still struggling, contact me here and I’ll be glad to help you come up with a good name.

I’m Sean Dudayev and this was my tantrum.

by

Sean Dudayev is the founder of The Thinker's Tantrum and currently consulting dozens of entrepreneurs in their start up efforts. His passion is making the world a better place through consumer oriented business and writing about himself in third person.

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