4 Hacks To Choose A Brand Name Faster
Choosing a name for your brand seems fun and straightforward at first. But balancing a great and memorable name with something that also represents what you do clearly can prove a difficult undertaking.
Add to that balancing multiple stakeholder opinions, the need to differentiate from the competition, and a host of other factors. Suddenly, choosing a name seems like an interminable chore that prevents the forward momentum of the whole operation.
It’s important you arrive at a name expeditiously, if only to preserve the momentum driving you to start the new business in the first place.
1. Assume It’s Taken
Moving fast to choose a name doesn’t mean that you pick the first good idea that comes to mind. You need dozens of ideas competing for the top prize of being etched into your corporate identity.
There’s a more practical reason you need to come up with dozens of name ideas: Most of them will be taken. This is the reality of being on the Internet today, and part of the challenge in naming a new business.
Thus you should assume every good idea you have is taken. It’s a great way to manage expectations. Then when you inevitably run your “name audit” (more info below), your inspiration isn’t crushed by finding out someone in your industry has already claimed that brand name.
When you do pass your name audit, then you can start rejoicing a little.
2. Do A Quick Name Audit
The idea of a “name audit” is to determine in a couple of minutes whether or not the name you’re starting to fall in love with can consummate the relationship legally. Here’s the quick approach we use to check to see if a brand name is take:
- Google It – Make sure to use quotations (“”) around the entire name when you search for it. For most name searches, it should be clear in the first 10 search results whether or not that name is in use. Sometimes a name will be used but not in a way that is claimed by any corporate entity. Most of the time, the name will simply be taken by another company.
- Do A Business Name Search In Your State – Your state government website should have a page where you can search for the business name in their official registry. Avoid any names that show up.
- Check The Domains – If your name isn’t coming up in Google, nor is it already taken in your state registry, there’s a ray of hope. Next step would be to check to see who owns the primary web domains associated with your name. Best-case scenario: They’re all available and waiting for you to register. Worst-case scenario: They’re in use, or parked on, and will cost thousands to purchase from a broker. We generally advise against purchasing domains for business use unless it’s an integral part of the business strategy. It’s often far less expensive and almost as effective to choose another name, or settle for a domain that is less pretty but still gets the job done.
- Check The Socials – If you can snag the domain, check to see if you can snag the socials. Who’s at the Twitter handle @yourcompanyname? What about Instagram and Facebook?
- Check The Niches – If you’re branding a product, Amazon is a great place to double-check for duplicates. Naming a band? Definitely check Spotify. You get the idea. To be ultra-sure you’re going to have sole control over the brand name, make sure someone in your specific niche or industry hasn’t had the same idea.
This whole process should take 5 minutes or less, and should usually result in finding the name is taken. Don’t despair! This means you’re on the right track, because you’re producing good, usable names by the fistful. Take enough swings and you’ll connect with a name you can use.
3. Pounce On The Presence
In most cases, if you’ve cleared the name audit, you should just take over the online presence of that brand name, even if you’re not convinced that you’re 100% going with it yet.
The fact is names and brands online are becoming more and more valuable real estate. There are markets for domains and brand identities if you choose to go in another direction. Additionally, building these online presences ‘properties’ is a great way to have brands in your back pocket, ready to go. And the investment required up front to claim that name for yourself is very small, at least in the practical sense that you own the key pieces of the online presence. If you do choose this as your brand name, you’ll want to take further steps to ensure your intellectual property is protected.
All you really have to do is register the domain(s) for a year, register free accounts on the key social media networks. Then you’re effectively parked on that presence, at least for the short term. It’s a good idea to put something up there, anything really, if only to dissuade others who like the name to try and snag it from you due to perceiving your inactivity in using it.
4. Contemplate Vetted Names
Even though we’re focused here on coming up with a brand name fast, we need to take our time to consider the options. I’ve showed you a quick process to vet brand names and arrive at a handful of gems. By this point, your problem should not be brainstorming new ideas. You should be struggling to justify your decision on which of the great names to pick.
You’ll often find each name has its own strengths and weaknesses. You’ll often find that after analyzing all these ‘gems’, they really turn out to be semi-precious, and you’re back in the idea mine on the hunt for a one-of-a-kind fit for your endeavors.
I recommend taking some time out of every day for your name quest, and doing this as frequently as is practical. You never know when inspiration will strike. Be ready to pick up your phone at any time to run a quick name audit on new ideas. Roll the ideas you’ve vetted around in your head in your down time. Put them under the microscope, see them through your customer’s eyes, anticipate questions about its meaning or origin. Ideally, if it is successful, you will live with your brand name for the rest of your life. Regard it in your mind’s eye as something to be contemplated often.
If you are doing this as part of a collaborative effort or with a team, each person should be focused as described above, before coming together to share the best names and democratically debate and vote off the worst names one by one like an episode of reality TV until one is left standing.
When a name has lived in your head for a few days and become the only possible choice you could make, congratulations! You have a name. Now get out there and let people know who you are. And don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you need a hand in building your audience and/or customer base.