What’s in a name? For businesses, a name could mean the difference between success and failure. Good business names communicate almost everything about the organization: their industry, their target audience, their primary products, their location. In the right circumstances, a consumer might need only a business’s name to initiate a conversion. Thus, it makes sense that entrepreneurs devote a significant amount of time to finding the most perfect name for their business and brand.
If you are struggling to come up with name ideas for your business, you might need to experiment with different brainstorming tactics to improve your creativity and find the optimal solution. Some brainstorming strategies you might employ are as follows:
A word dump is an exercise that allows your brain to flow unrestricted through all the words, phrases and concepts that relate to your business. For a brief and specified period of time — somewhere between one and five minutes — you should write down everything you think of. During your allotted time, you don’t need to worry whether a word or phrase makes sense; you should give your creativity no constraints, which might allow an incredible name opportunity to present itself. You may need to perform a word dump several times before you feel comfortable disgorging your thoughts completely, and you should give yourself plenty of breaks to allow your creativity to rest and recharge before another dump.
Once you have more than a few words related to your business, you can turn to your thesaurus for even more name inspiration. Thesauruses can be exceedingly useful tools for finding words with more complexity and nuance; used correctly, thesauruses should improve communication, not obfuscate it. When using a thesaurus to find your business name, you should be careful to research the words you like to ensure that you fully understand their definitions and connotations. The last thing you want is to discover that the cool-sounding word in your business name is actually an unfortunate euphemism for something entirely different.
Business names do not need to conform to the prescriptive rules of spelling and grammar. In fact, some of the most famous business names were hardly words at all before they became household terms: Xerox, Kleenex, Kodak, Sony. However, making up a word whole-cloth is somewhat risky, especially when your business name should be able to communicate some aspect of its purpose to its main audience. Instead, you might play around with the spelling of certain key words to make your business name shorter, simpler, more pronounceable or otherwise more unique and memorable.
Many business names that seem like nonsense words are actually words in other languages. Many entrepreneurs will use online translators to manipulate words from their word dump sessions into foreign tongues; other times, entrepreneurs choose words in foreign languages at random simply because they sound interesting or evoke a certain feeling. If you do explore foreign languages as a source for your business name, you might want to consult with a native speaker to understand fully what certain words or phrases mean — for the same reason you would research words found in thesauruses. You might also want to work with a native speaker to avoid participating in cultural appropriation or another form of exploitation during your business development phase.
What to Do Once You Find Your Business Name
Through one of these brainstorming tactics — or perhaps through an online name-generating tool or something else entirely — you are bound to find the perfect business name eventually. When that happens, you need to act fast to ensure that you can legally operate under the name you choose and protect your business name from other organizations that might be interested in taking advantage of your business success.
To start, you should contact state and federal agencies to acquire a trademark on the name and any other brand materials you develop, such as logos and slogans. You can look up how to trademark a business name in your area, and there are services that make the process simpler, eliminating guesswork that could compromise your legal protections.
Next, you should purchase your business name as a web domain to ensure that your target audience will be able to find your business’s online location. You might want to acquire similar web addresses as well, such as your business name with different extensions (.com, .org, .net, etc.) or your business name spelled slightly differently.
Finally, to maintain legal protection of your business name, you will need to do business as that name. This rule prevents bad actors from trademarking unlimited numbers of potential business names to take advantage of good-faith entrepreneurs interested in developing real businesses. If you change your mind and decide not to use a certain business name you have trademarked, you cannot stop another business from using that name because you are not doing business under that name.