• Mia Cosco

The Ultimate Secret of Naming A Business in 2020

A Brand Is More Than A Name

I want to start off by saying that a brand is obviously not just its name. There are so many things that make up a successful, profitable, and impressive business that fulfills the triple bottom line of sustainability, positive culture, and then profits.

It would be somewhat foolish of us to say that Coca-Cola is a great name or even that Starbucks is a great name. We associate great names with well-known companies because these companies are famous. However, companies like Nike, as another star-studded example, really weren’t thinking about their name as the first thing. There were so many other things to think about like products, marketing, finding a great team, and cultivating great leadership among other things.

For a business to survive, it’s so much more than a name. You can think about a name like the sign on the door of your business end it can say as much is a little about your actual business, so preferably, make it informative and inviting to your actual business.

Naming Is An Important Process

I’m going to go into a few tactics about how to actually name business and some examples of innovative and creative business naming strategies, though the most important thing that I want to share with you before I go into that is really that a name is no small deal. If you’re going to put a sign on your door, you may as well make it a sign that you can live and breathe with, that you align with and that you feel totally complete with so that you’re happy to share your business from that lift-off point. Similar to your company's social media presence or online feed, it’s really important to make sure that the sign on the door invites people in. With that said, there’s a process I’m gonna walk you through for how I would be my business, and then if you’re still feeling unsure, I’ll spell out the strategies for you.

Business Naming Processes

The process that I take my clients through when it comes to a name is really starting from a place of openness and pure potentiality. How you can get into a state where great ideas can come to you and amazing ideas just flow creatively is by entering your given state of flow.

What do you do that completely takes your mind off of time? Where time simply passes by without you acknowledging it?

For some of my friends, for example, they lose themselves in cooking. Some of my friends need to go out for a run and just sweat outside. My given state of flow is when I am kickboxing. When it’s just me and the bag, I am just completely in a state of flow and there are a lot of other states I can cultivate where I simply just don’t look at the clock and I don’t want to. Because everybody has their own given the state of flow, I invite you to reflect on what yours is and enter that state. Bring a journal or invite yourself to document any ideas or terms that come to you.

If your business is just an idea or a start-up even, a great exercise to try on is to come up with five words or less about your business.

Another way of doing this is by filling the blanks of some sentences to prompt some creativity. For example, I want my brand to make people feel (blank) when they purchase my (products or services) and I help them (blank).

Reverse Engineering/Envisioning

Typically, what creative start-ups do is go through a real ground-up, reverse engineering process to come up with a great, heart-centered name that resonates with their ideal clients or soulmate customers. For example, you may have wondered why Nike got their name. While I actually know the story because I read the incredible book about Nike called Shoe Dog, which I highly recommend, I’m going to walk you through what some companies do, like Nike, to figure out marketing campaign ideas and naming or title ideas for products and services of theirs.

Typically, envisioning processes start off with feeling words and ideas. What are the products you want to sell? How do you want to help people? How does your service help the people that you want to help? Who are the people that you want to help? For Nike, they wanted to sell running shoes and help people wear running shoes that looked great and felt good especially for athletes.

Then, this process typically becomes collaborative with some sort of team or starting founders and people just sort of word dump or brain dump terms. For example, At Nike, they might post post-it notes on the wall while someone creatively prompts a team with questions to come up with terms. How does it feel to wear Nike shoes? Comfortable, fast, like a cheetah. What colors do we want on the Nike shoes? Red, orange, blue. How do athletes feel with our shoes on? They feel victorious, they are going to win, they are going to be in the first place.

Then typically, potentially a five-word sentence would form or some sort of cohesive brand statement. This could be a mission statement or it could be a vision statement, but it’s usually a really simple summary that speaks of a brand’s magic. So for Nike, they could say that we want to help athletes feel victorious. They might want to make sure that runners are going fast and come in the first place. They want to position themselves as a company with fast red shoes that help their athlete consumers win like a cheetah. They’ll probably want people to think of victory and winning iconography or first place, world-class myth, and legends like Hercules or Hermes or Nike!

When you’re doing envisioning processes, by the way, what I really want to pass along to you is that you really don’t want to be hindering yourself or limiting yourself to possibility. Don’t try and sound good or look smart or sound like you know at all. The most important part of this process is just to be completely unfiltered and simply say whatever comes to your mind because if it’s your business and brand, it’s got to align with you and really come from the heart which starts with you. No one else can do it like you!

So now that you know about envisioning processes for business names, I want to enlighten you on a few strategies that I would recommend using to help you with the name if you still feel lost.

Business Naming Strategies

One of the best ways to name a business is by knowing one of the top principles of marketing I was introduced by Ogilvy. Ogilvy, one of the top marketing experts in the world, deduced that more people will pay to avoid pain than attract pleasure. Why is this important? Well, it’s all in a name. The name of your business and simply be the name of what you don’t want in your niche typically. For example, what people typically don’t want, If they’re a dog owner, is for their dog tags to get lost. That’s why a great example of an avoiding pain name is ‘NeverLost Dog Tags.’ Other names I can think of off the top of my head are No-Peel Paint, EndBadDates for a dating app company, or even NoSeeThru Yoga Pants.

However, the next best thing, especially if you’re a positive person like me, is to stay in the affirmative and go towards what you do like instead of just talking about what you don’t want to happen. This is a business name that guarantees a transformational outcome or results dependent on the product or service. An example of a business name in the affirmative is Lean Cuisine. Not only does this name rhyme, but it basically tells me that if I want to eat food that doesn’t make me overweight, I can go with that brand.

Another really great strategy for naming your brand or business is to use the power of alliteration. This is essentially a business name that rolls off the tongue because of the clever use of two words with the same letter in front of them. An example of this is paramount pictures. If I were you, I wouldn’t underestimate the power of an alliterative use in your business title! Sometimes, a name that’s just easier or prettier to say or even just more efficient is the winning brand in people's minds.

An interesting way that other companies really set themselves apart in the market is by owning a word. Famous examples of this are Apple and Yahoo. While both of these are words we can use in our vocabulary, they are such iconic terms primarily because there are a whole business and brand behind these words.

Another innovative way of naming your business is by making up a word by combining two known words. This creative way of naming a business can be rewarded if it rolls off the tongue as well. Famous examples of this are Microsoft, coming from the terms microchips and software. Another famous example is FedEx, hailing from the two words federal express. Combining two relatively simple and mundane words together in an innovative, new and completely creative term is a very compelling way of drawing brand attention to a business idea that may seem relatively uninteresting.

Similar to the creative idea above, another way you can name your business is by similarly developing a creative formula for combining two known words and shortening it or making it more catchy. Do not underestimate catchy! When people are talking about brands, they don’t typically want to spell out a long and complicated name and that’s exactly why we have nicknames as an example. An example of this to look to is Netflix. By combining the obvious words of the Internet and movie flicks, they’ve summarized their business in a really catchy way and they have also made the word flix with an x, which is super catchy in a way that doesn’t undermine what their business obviously is. However, I would caution a word of warning here and that is that you don’t need to be using these ideas willy-nilly. Sometimes, making your brand-name to indistinguishable to spell even if you think it’s catchy can make it harder to Google search and that is the number one way people will typically find a brand, especially if you primarily have an online presence or if you’re literally doing any business online as a service provider or product-based business online.

Your name can also be your own name! This is known as an eponymous name and it really just comes from you. Now, because I am my own service provider and I am a branding coach, people expect to work with me and talk to me at this point in my business, so it makes sense that I make sure that people are following my personal brand and really enrolling in who I am rather than what I do or my company name. This is how I position myself and it works for me quite organically. However, as I grow my business with more clients, I will be hiring more team members and my vision is to have my own creative branding agency so that will likely have a sole name that may not simply have my name because people shouldn’t be expecting to just work with me one on one. So that’s just a word of warning for you if you choose to brand your business with your own names like Andrew Smith Construction or Jane Doe Drywall. If people are literally going to be working with you, great to go with your name. If they aren’t though, the name might mislead them and they might be asking for you and talking to someone else which might make them feel a little bit ignored or dismissed by you.

Another important consideration is your brand voice. If you want to sound mythical and heroic, go with a mythical icon or literally a name of a superhero or a derived name from a superhero. If you are playful and funny, you might want to go with a name that makes people laugh or sounds a little bit funny without sounding like it sounds too hard to spell or pronounce or something. You definitely don’t want to confuse people. A brand voice is a personality and if it shines through in your business name, you’re already off to a great start.

Make sure that you also go to a business registry service and do a quick search on US PTO, for example, to make sure that any business name ideas that you’re really set on or that you feel like you most want to choose are not already taken. While a copyright infringement and a naming conflict won’t necessarily take you out of the game, you want to make sure that you are original and that you’re not going to be facing a potential lawsuit later on.

Another last thing I want to mention is to look to the future when you are naming your business. For example, if you want to start off simply by selling suntan lotion, feel free to call it Gary’s Suntan Lotion or whatever you want to call it. However, think about the next five years of that business or brand. Are you still selling suntan lotion or are you a national chain of tanning booths? If you are planning on growing your business and it’s not just a one-off or you plan on really making it an empire of sorts, then think about examples like IBM. IBM is so large that it’s simply in a phase of acquiring other companies. It’s large, it’s in charge and it’s all about acquisition so its name is super monolith-like and not to be messed with. Gary’s Suntan Lotion will likely evolve, if all goes according to your plan, so if you want to keep it within the same realm of tanning and skin alteration, maybe something like Gary’s Sunning or The Sun Of The World would be any more appropriate because you’re getting out to the big picture and you’re really zooming out with your name so that people get a sense that you are bigger than just your existing product lineup or your one existing offer and that you keep your eye on the prize so that you can diversify and expand your portfolio of products and or services.

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P.S. I invite you to book a call with me to make your Branding Game Plan! I empower wellness entrepreneurs to overcome uncertainty on social media and build the thriving, healing empire of their dreams using powerful personal branding and I am offering free, 30-minute Brand Game Plans at absolutely no charge to 5 people for the next week so if you want to Game Plan your absolutely phenomenal wellness retreat center with me and how to do it, I’ll course correct you. I wouldn’t wait on this opportunity because even though there’s no risk or commitment in booking a call, my schedule often fills up really quickly and I swear that these 30 minutes will potentially be the biggest investment of your business launch and start up If you really put your heart into it.

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