If you’ve struggled to come up with a strong name for your business, you are not alone. Entrepreneurs and small business owners spend more time than they anticipate trying to come up with a strong name for their new venture, or when renaming their existing business.
To help you name your new business or rename an existing one, we created a simple two-part guide:
- First, we’ll look at crowdpring’s proven tips to get a great name
- Second, we’ll offer advice on how you can craft a strong project brief
When we started crowdspring, we spent over 50 hours trying to come up with a name for our business. It was frustrating and time consuming. As I reflect, I wish I would have had an affordable, effective service at my fingertips to expedite the naming process.
Our experience with naming “crowdspring” led us to launch a business naming service as part of the core services crowdspring offers. Over 10 years later, we now have more than 220,000 designers and namers from 195 countries helping entrepreneurs, small business owners, brands, agencies and non-profits with naming their business or product, logo design, web design, print design and product design.
In fact, I’ve started a half-dozen new startups, including Startup Foundry, Quickly Legal, Respect and Curio since launching crowdspring and you bet I used crowdspring to name them all.
Before launching a project, know what makes a strong name. Below are 6 tips to help you get rockin’
1. What do you want your company name to convey?
Your company name is a critical part of your company’s brand identity. The name will appear on your business cards, letterhead, website, promotional materials, products and elsewhere to identify your company.
Consider your prospective customers. If your new business is targeted mostly to a younger audience, you’ll want to think about names that would be interesting and familiar to them.
Service oriented businesses should consider whether it will be easy for their prospective customers to recognize what services the business provides, based on the name of the company
→ Example: a dog walking service named their company Wag, it’s suggestive, short and easy to pronounce.
Also, be careful with geographic names. Some people use their city, state or region as part of their company name. If you plan only to work in your city, then this might serve you well, but a geographic name could hinder your growth. It’s something you should be aware and try to avoid if possible.
→ Example: Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining. Initially, the name worked because the business was focused on Minnesota. But once the company grew beyond their industry and the state of Minnesota, they needed to find a new name – 3M.
2. Keep the name short, simple, and easy to spell and remember
Think about the names of companies you admire. They typically have a few things in common: their names are short, simple, easy to spell, are one to two syllables and easy to remember.
→ Examples: Apple, Square, Virgin, Southwest
Obscure business names are often difficult to write and even more difficult to remember. This is a problem because for most startups and small businesses, word-of-mouth marketing is the most successful form of brand awareness and customer acquisition. If your target audience can’t pronounce your name, they’ll avoid sharing it with friends and family, simply because they are not confident on how to say it.
While it might be tempting, avoid using a “K” in place of a “Q” or a “Ph” in place of an “F” when coming up with your company name. These letter substitutions add an unnecessary layer of confusion. Also, don’t forget to consider the acronym of your company name. You might not use an acronym, but your customers might refer to your business by one.
Example → Apple Support Services can result in an unfavorable acronym – ASS.
3. Avoid names that are too narrow or too literal
Think about how your company may evolve over time and make sure that the company name can evolve with the business.
For example, if you name your company “PlayStation3 Accessories” and later expand to sell accessories for the Wii and Xbox, your original name will be too narrow and restrictive.
The same advice applies even if your company sells a niche product. For example, if you sell antique lamps, you should consider whether you might sell more than lamps in the future. Naming your business Nancy’s Antique Lamps may be too limiting when you later start selling antique furniture.
Example → RadioShack, what if Amazon was called bookstore?
4. Avoid plain words
Plain words make it very difficult to differentiate your company from your competitors. For example, there were hundreds of thousands of logo design businesses around the world when we started thinking about “crowdspring”. We knew that we would be expanding to many different industries so we didn’t want to name our business Great Logo Design – it would have been descriptive, but not memorable and certainly not unique.
Plain words can also be limiting. ZenPayroll offers a good example.
When ZenPayroll was founded, the intention of the company was to improve the payroll experience for both small businesses and employees. Three years later, after being valued at over $560 million, ZenPayroll added health benefits and workers’ compensation to their product offering. With a product offering no longer limited to payroll, ZenPayroll changed their name to Gusto and is currently valued at $1 billion.
The founders explained the inspiration for the new name, “Our new name Gusto was inspired by our customers and their teams who show courage and passion in the work they do every day. When you work on something you care about, with people you enjoy spending time with, it’s an amazing feeling. That energy. That oomph. That’s Gusto. We believe everyone has the potential to feel this way at work.”
5. Avoid obscure words
Company names that help tell stories can be powerful and memorable (think about Google, for example). But obscure words or references might be difficult to spell or pronounce. Be especially sensitive if you’re trying to reach a mass audience.
Obscure or invented names can work – Zillow is a great example – but this often requires a huge marketing budget and tremendous effort.
6. Consider your competitors names
It’s important to make sure that your competitors are not using the same name in your industry. It’s not uncommon to find similar (or even identical names) in different industries, but this can result in confusion for your customers and vendors.
Now that you better understand the attributes of a high quality name. Let’s talk about how to craft the perfect naming project brief on crowdspring.
Crowdspring makes it easy to get an affordable new business name and domain. We walk you through a simple automated workflow to simplify the development of your project brief.
One important question we ask is, “tell us about your company/organization. What does/will it do? What types of products or services will it offer for sale?Don’t overlook this question. Strong brands have a clearly articulated and consistent story. Some questions you can ask yourself:
- Do we have a unique founding story?
- Are we socially conscious? (some businesses donate a portion of their profits to charities)
- What makes our product or service unique?
We also ask you whether you need a specific domain name to match your new business name. You can pick a .com or multiple other domain TLDs. Next, we’ll ask about your audience. Not all names are suitable for all audiences. If your business sells products or services for millenials, for example, you’ll want a fresh, modern name.
This is an important question because if your audience doesn’t understand or know your business name, it’s irrelevant to them. One good way to think about your audience is to consider whether you have a single group of customers or different groups of customers. That’s where personas come into play. We recently wrote about this in detail and would encourage you to read that article – How To Grow Your Business Through Persona-Based Marketing.
We’ll also ask you about your top 3 competitors and the top 3 things you want to communicate through your name. Since names have to create an identity for your business, understanding what you’re trying to communicate will help namers develop strong business name ideas.
Naming projects start at just $299, including all awards and fees. All projects come with private galleries, unlimited participants, and our guarantee that if you get fewer than 100 name suggestions and don’t like any of them, we’ll refund 100% of what you paid, including our fees.
After you give your project a title (pick something catchy, like Need a Terrific Name For A New, Innovative Cryptocurrency Bartering Service), we’ll give you a chance to review all of the information you’ve entered and take you to a payment step. Once you pay and your project is posted, we notify our namers and they go to work, submitting names for your review. You’ll then have a chance to rate and provide feedback. Don’t overlook this, it’s critical to stay engaged throughout the project.
At the end of the ~7 day project, you’ll go through a short wrap-up with the winning creative and the name will be yours! Further, you should consider trademarking your new name.
Be sure to take advantage of the exclusive savings offered to Rewind & Capture readers – save $124 when you post any project on crowdspring (you’ll get $25 off plus the $99 advanced promotion, for free). Happy naming!
Ross Kimbarovsky is founder and CEO at crowdspring. He mentors entrepreneurs through TechStars and Founder Institute, is a member of the Executive Advisory Board for TechWeek, and was honored as one of Techweek100′s top technology leaders and business visionaries.