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What’s in a Name?

Think about your name. Consider what it means to you. How has it affected your life and personality so far? Do you think you’d be a different person if you had a different name?

Now, think about some brand names you know. Apple. Nike. Starbucks. As soon as you see or hear these names, you know exactly what they are. You likely associate certain characteristics with those brands.

Coming up with a name for your startup should be about more than something funny or cute. Keep reading to discover the key elements that go into a solid, memorable, and high-quality name. We also have some online tools that can help you brainstorm the best names for your new business.


KEEP IT SHORT, KEEP IT SIMPLE

Take a look at the top 100 customer-rated brands for 2021. Scroll to the bottom and check the top 10. Of those 10, six are two syllables long. The other four are three syllables.

People don’t want to spend all day saying the name of a company. They want something that rolls off the tongue in a single, short breath and doesn’t involve tongue twisters. They want something easy to remember. Target. Google. Amazon.

Multiple words are fine if they are short and simple. Trader Joe’s. Whole Foods. 


MAKE IT EASY TO SPELL

For a while, the trend was to eliminate a vowel or two in a brand name and call it a day. Flickr. Tumblr.

From ideation to launch, you’ll want investors, early customers, and everyone else associated with your brand to be able to spell it correctly. The last thing you need as a young entrepreneur trying to prove yourself is to have everyone spell the name of your company differently. Or worse: for customers to get lost while searching for your brand.

Your brand name shouldn’t use texting abbreviations or funky spelling, either. Don’t replace all your letter a’s with the @ symbol, for example. As we said above, keep it simple.


DON’T LIMIT YOUR COMPANY

Let’s say you decide to start a fintech business that allows teens to learn about investing in stocks. A name such as, “Teen Investors,” sounds great and seems straightforward. But what happens when you’re ready for your business to grow? Maybe two years from now you’re successful enough to want to expand to kids and young adults. The name “Teen Investors” won’t make sense.

Don’t name your company after a specific location, either. “Glendale Tech” is nice if you intend to stay hyper-local forever. We hope you have bigger goals for your enterprise!


KEEP IT RELEVANT

Stay away from cutesy nicknames, no matter how adorable they are. If you want your online tutoring business to be taken seriously, don’t name it “Bubblegum.” Your brand name should have something to do with your business.


GOOGLE IT

Obviously, you’re not going to name your new company something like Amazon or McDonald’s. But there are other small businesses out there with names similar to – or exactly like – yours. How will you make your brand name stand out (without violating any of the guidelines listed above)?

Let’s say you’re starting a car wash business. Rather than using some generic words to name your enterprise, go with words that describe the value you offer. Classic Car Wash. Elite Service. Prime Washing.


SAY IT OUT LOUD

If you stumble over the name, chances are good others will, too. Does the name make sense when you hear it? Does it sound too much like something else? For example, did you name your organic mouthwash company “Gargle,” which might be too close to Google? Is the name easy to pronounce based on how it’s spelled? Does it accidentally sound dirty or misleading?


ASK FOR FEEDBACK

Friends and family can provide free market analysis. Ask them to give you honest feedback about the name you’ve chosen. Do they like it? Can they tell right away what your company is all about? Can they spell it? Can they pronounce it? Is it easy to remember?

Better yet, brainstorm a few names (no more than 10, but preferably 5) and give your friends and family the list. Let them choose their top 3 faves or rank them in order of best to worst.


GET REGISTERED

Once you have the best name picked out, register your domain (see below) and sign up for your free social media accounts under that name. Everything else can come later: logos, content, and your online shop. But grab those parking spots now!


FREE NAMING TOOLS YOU CAN USE

  • Namium lets you type in a single word and will come up with hundreds of suggestions related to that word. This is a great tool if you are completely blocked when it comes to naming your startup.
  • Namelix is another tool that will come up with suggestions based on a single word or phrase. Once you type in your word, it’ll ask you how random you want the suggestions to be and what kind of style you’re looking for, I.e., short phrases. (They’ll even give you logo ideas!)
  • Still stuck? Shopify also has a business name generator.
  • Naturally, you’ll want to purchase a domain with your brand’s name in the address. First stop: Domain.com. Not only can you check to see if the domain you want is already taken, but you can also purchase your domain through the site.
  • While we’re on the subject, look through the United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) to make sure you aren’t violating someone else’s copyright.
  • Namechk is an all-purpose resource for finding and registering your business’s name. They have name generators, domain checks, and startup advice for young entrepreneurs in every state.
  • And of course, use a thesaurus to help you brainstorm better ways of saying what you need to say.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Many well-known brands break these rules! However, as a young entrepreneur just starting, we recommend following these guidelines. You never know when your brand name will be the next Snapchat, Publix, or Spotify!


Young entrepreneurs in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we have to offer and how to apply.


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