Similar to real life relationships, the perfect name is something you build, work towards and grow into. So, let’s get into it. What are you looking for when you’re shortlisting and selecting names?
First, you’re looking for a pulse. Which names feel alive? Which names make you smile or react? Take it from a guy who works at A Hundred Monkeys, a naming and branding firm based in Berkeley. People knock on our door all the time just because they need to see what happens behind a door that says “A Hundred Monkeys” on it. Great names should act as an introduction. A common mistake is looking for a name that tells your whole story. Going back to the relationship analogy, this is a little like trying to tell your whole life story on a first date. Look at your list and highlight the names that get a reaction.
Next, you’re looking for names that relate to your positioning (think back to chapter one) —names that share your point of view and personality. Names that relate to your positioning should, by default, differentiate you from the competition. Highlight the names that will help you tell your story.
This is probably a good time to mention that you shouldn’t ask your friends and family what they think about your potential names. Remember, opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one. Don’t let somebody who has nothing to do with your business tell you how to name it. If you try to please everybody, you’ll end up with something boring and boring is invisible.
Take a look at the names you’ve highlighted. Now you’re going to run them through the ringer. First, Google search your potential names by themselves. See if there are any similar companies/products/services that come up on the first two pages and make notes next to the names. Then do the same thing with your names plus a very short description of what you’re doing afterwards. So “Brotweiler dog treats” or “Escape Goat animal rescue.” If anything is too close to what you’re doing, strike it from the record.
From here, force rank your top 3-4 options as a team and get in touch with a trademark attorney. You can search the USPTO website and attempt to register a trademark yourself but if you’re serious about starting something that’s going to last, I highly HIGHLY recommend working with a trademark attorney to make sure you’re standing on solid ground.
Once you get the go ahead on your favorites, go back to points 1 & 2 and ask yourself which names act as the best introduction to the brand you’re creating. Ask yourself which names are most memorable. Remember, there is no right answer at this point–you’re just picking the best vessel for all of your hard work moving forward. So trust your gut and take the leap.
Eli Altman is an Oakland-based brand strategist and writer. He’s the Creative Director at A Hundred Monkeys and the author of Don’t Call It That, the naming workbook.