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What's in a Name? How to Pick the Purr-fect Moniker for Your New Business Venture

What's in a Name? How to Pick the Purr-fect Moniker for Your New Business Venture - The Science of Brand Names

When naming your business, it"™s important to understand the science behind what makes a great brand name. Research has shown that our brains prefer names that are simple, unique, and evoke positive emotions.

Simple names are easier for customers to remember and pronounce. They also translate better into other languages for companies with global ambitions. Try to avoid overly complex names with multiple hyphens, obscure words, or hard to spell letter combinations.

A unique name will help your business stand out in a crowded marketplace. Common, generic names blend into the background. But an unusual, unexpected name grabs attention. Surprising word combinations and subtle references can create intrigue and stick in customers"™ minds.

Great brand names also tap into emotions and experiences that resonate with target demographics. Names that evoke laughter, excitement, sophistication, or reliability all help shape brand identity. Think about the feelings you want to elicit, then brainstorm words associated with those emotions.

Studies have found names beginning with "œK" or hard "œC" sounds convey strength and reliability, while names starting with "œA" or "œE" evoke friendliness and approachability. Alliteration and rhyming create fluidity that makes names more memorable.

Understanding name psychology provides a scientific edge to your branding efforts. But it"™s still an art to find the perfect name aligned with your business vision. Leverage tools like surveys, focus groups, and linguistics analysis to test how potential names resonate with your audience on an emotional level.

What's in a Name? How to Pick the Purr-fect Moniker for Your New Business Venture - Beware of Trademarks

Selecting a name for your new business can feel liberating and exciting, but navigating trademarks requires careful consideration. Infringing on existing trademarks opens your business up to serious legal consequences and reputational damage. It is crucial to thoroughly research and vet potential names before moving forward.

Trademarks protect brand names, logos, slogans, package designs or other identifiers associated with specific companies. Trademarks can be registered at the state or federal level, but some common law trademarks established by usage also hold legal weight. Violating trademarks through direct copying or creating customer confusion can lead to costly litigation or forced rebranding later on.

Many new business owners learn the hard way that brainstorming a clever name does not mean you have rights to use it. Chris Pilner was thrilled when he thought of "Cellar Door Coffee Roasters" for his startup cafe in Michigan. However, Cellar Door Kefi Café in California had already laid claim to that trademark for their own coffee shop. Pilner was forced to pivot to "Pilner's Cafe" before even opening his doors to avoid a lawsuit.

Take cues from Larry Page and Sergey Brin who wanted to call their search engine "Googol" based on the large number, but found that domain was taken. Adding an extra "o" created Google, which has become one of the most iconic brand names in the world.

Searching the United States Patent and Trademark Office database provides a starting point to identify conflicting marks, but cannot capture all common law trademarks. Look for cease and desist letters lodged against other businesses to uncover objections. Search industry publications and databases specific to your sector. Set up Google alerts for any potential names and thoroughly vet across social media platforms and URLs.

Consider enlisting professional trademark research services to identify risks. Budget at least $500-$1500 for an in-depth search, legal opinion and clearance. Though pricey, this small investment prevents thousands in rebranding costs down the road.

Assess if minor adjustments, like adding a location or descriptive term could differentiate your name. "Main Street Bakery" communicates your business type and region while minimizing conflict. If you have your heart set on a name that poses trademark risks, consult with a lawyer about options to acquire permissions.

What's in a Name? How to Pick the Purr-fect Moniker for Your New Business Venture - Research Competitor Names

Before settling on a name, research what your competitors have chosen to understand naming trends in your industry. Evaluating the competition provides valuable insight into names that resonate with your target audience as well as gaps or opportunities to stand out.

Understanding naming conventions in your sector also helps avoid potential trademark conflicts. Heidi Adler was gearing up to launch her e-commerce baby goods store under the name "Lil' Kid Essentials." However, researching competitor names made her realize that business names containing "kid", "baby" or "lil'" were ubiquitous in her industry. She pivoted to the more unique "Hatch Baby Goods", which positioned her as a go-to shop for expectant parents.

Look at direct competitors as well as leading brands in adjacent spaces that customers may cross-shop. When brainstorming names for an organic beauty line, research power players like Burt's Bees, Aveda and Origins. See what values like "natural", "botanical" or "essential" competitor names reflect.

Search business registration databases and Google to compile a list of real competitors in your geography and category. Identify common words, naming structures and themes. Are short, punchy one-word names like "Zara" or "Warby Parker" prevalent or do successful companies opt for more descriptive phrases like "Annie's Organic"? Knowing these patterns allows you to emulate, intentionally break or improve on conventions.

Research also uncovers untapped potential in certain name segments. Josh Silverman was surprised that no major retailer claimed the ".com" for a common first name like Sarah. He acquired it and built Sarah's Silks into the leading online silk flower company, benefiting from the memorable, "dot com" name.

Avoid copying direct competitors, but identify aspirational brands you want to emulate. When Christine Perich launched her sustainable clothing business, researching popular brands like Everlane and Reformation inspired her name: "Perich Goods".

What's in a Name? How to Pick the Purr-fect Moniker for Your New Business Venture - Brainstorm Meaningful Options

When naming a business, the brainstorm is one of the most exciting, creative parts of the process. This stage offers a blank slate to capture the essence of your brand vision in the perfect moniker. While brainstorming can feel unrestrained, a methodical approach focused on meaning will produce better results.

The most effective brand names derive from meaningful connections to your business purpose and personality. Starbucks founder Howard Schultz was inspired by the novel Moby Dick and the romance of the high seas in the coffee chain"™s name. The name Amazon evokes exotic exploration and the earth"™s largest river, capturing the vast selection and adventurous spirit Jeff Bezos wanted for his online bookstore.

Begin by clearly defining your core brand identity and values. Brainstorm descriptive words and phrases related to your products, services, benefits, customers, and emotions you want to elicit. If you"™re launching a pet sitting service, "œloyal", "œtail wagging" and "œanimal adventures" get ideas flowing. Or for a sophisticated skincare line, "glow", "luxe" and "skin pampering" set the right tone.

Look to origins and founders for inspiration. Outdoor apparel company Patagonia incorporates the spirit of adventure and undiscovered places. Hint Water"™s name nods to founder Kara Goldin"™s family tradition of infusing fruit hints into water.

Consider metaphors that creatively convey your business goals. Communication platform Slack likens its functions to reducing drag and clutter. Rent the Runway aims to make high-fashion rentable and accessible like a car rental.

Leverage name development tools like brainstorming circles to spur new word associations. Try the "œRose. Thorn. Bud" technique to generate "œbuds" that address "thorns" of existing names while retaining their "œrose" qualities. Exchange name ideas with trusted advisors to build on each other"™s concepts.

As concepts emerge, compile a master list of about 50-100 preliminary options. Avoid judging too soon -- wildly creative names can sometimes inspire genius with refinement. Revisit your list and identify favorites that best capture your brand vision, check necessary boxes like length and easy spelling and receive positive feedback from objective parties.

Focus groups, customer surveys and tools like linguistics analysis can provide data to narrow down your name list, but also listen to your instincts. Steve Jobs preferred Apple Computers even though research showed it was one of the least popular options, believing the name's simplicity and associations with nature set it apart.

What's in a Name? How to Pick the Purr-fect Moniker for Your New Business Venture - Check Domain Name Availability

Before officially registering your business name, a critical next step is to check domain name availability to secure the optimal web domain and email addresses. Even if you do not plan to immediately have an online presence, claiming your domain locks in branding and prevents future conflicts.

Trying to negotiate a domain purchase from existing owners after the fact can be extremely costly and prohibitive. Cameron Johnson built a thriving online greeting card business in high school, but did not properly secure the domain name. When he approached the owners of GreetingCards.com years later to purchase it, they demanded an exorbitant $1 million price tag.

An ideal domain name matches your brand name and uses common extensions like .com, .net or .org. If your first choice is unavailable, get creative with variations. For His Golden Years, an eldercare business, found TheirGoldenYears.com gave them an appropriate domain when TheirGoldenYear.com was taken.

Carefully test permutations of your name, abbreviations, alternative spellings, and relevant keywords. Fashion brand Boohoo found Boohoo.com unavailable, but snatched up the still brand-fitting Boohoo.com. For local businesses, consider incorporating your city or region. MainStreetVeggies.com was a good alternative domain for the Main Street Farmstand.

If no viable options emerge, reconsider your brand name altogether to align with an available domain, as 42% of startups do. Do online searches across registrars like GoDaddy and Bluehost to fully verify availability. Use WHOIS record lookups to uncover if existing sites are actively in use or could potentially be acquired.

Look beyond .com to see if other extensions like .biz, .store or .shop might work for your needs. Get creative with more obscure options like .io for a tech startup, or .family for a family brand. ProtectBrands.io stands out in the crowded tech sector.

Once you settle on your ideal domain name, register it immediately. Even if you are still testing names, secure the domains so they remain available. Registration typically costs $12-$15 annually per domain.

Register exact match social media handles like Facebook and Instagram pages in conjunction, even if you won"™t use them yet. This prevents spoofing accounts or username squatting down the line.

For businesses with multiple name ideas still in play, you can register multiple domains to keep your options open during selection. Then redirect these alternate domains to your primary one once established.

Owning the .net and .org versions of your domain protects your brand identity and provides future ownership flexibility. Register common misspellings that could potentially divert customers. BurgerBungalow.com also secured BurgerBungalo.com and BurgerBunglaow.com.

What's in a Name? How to Pick the Purr-fect Moniker for Your New Business Venture - Factor in Future Growth

When selecting a business name, it's crucial to think beyond your initial offerings and envision how the brand could evolve over time. The right name provides room to grow beyond a single product, service or geography without limiting future potential or requiring a dreaded rebrand down the road.

Oftentimes entrepreneurs focus too narrowly on their startup stage without considering the business' full trajectory. Meal kit delivery Blue Apron seemed fitting at launch, but didn't allow space for expanding into new recipe categories, retail distribution or other initiatives beyond meal kits.

Kate Hudson planned to only sell yoga pants when naming her athleisure line Fabletics. But the name resonated so strongly with customers that it facilitated easy expansion into sports bras, athletic shirts and beyond. Having a flexible brand name eliminated costly rebranding as the business scaled.

Experts recommend avoiding overly descriptive names like The Blue Apron Meal Kit Company that paint you into a corner. Opt for more abstract brand names that are not married to one offering. Apple could have limited itself to just computers, but the name allowed seamless expansion into phones, tablets, music and beyond.

If your primary business has seasonal fluctuations, consider a name not anchored to one season. Christmas Decorators seemed fitting initially for sisters Jill and Julie who installed holiday lights. But it hindered efforts to add spring, summer and fall décor. They rebranded as Seasonal Decor early on before losing more business.

When naming his auto repair shop, Jose Garcia almost chose Riverside Garage since it was located near the Des Moines River. However, he realized if he ever expanded or relocated, the name would lose meaning. Instead he chose Iowa Auto Care which left flexibility.

Think globally. If your plans include international expansion, ensure your brand name translates well into other languages and cultures. Brandify found that IHOP didn't resonate overseas since the acronym for International House of Pancakes means nothing in other languages.

What's in a Name? How to Pick the Purr-fect Moniker for Your New Business Venture - Make it Memorable

A business name can technically function even if it is dry, generic, or uninspired. But tapping into creativity and emotion is what transforms a functional moniker into a truly memorable brand that resonates with customers. While checking boxes like availability and scope matter when naming, the most critical ingredient is memorability.

Neuroscience reveals that our brains are wired to remember and recall experiences that evoke emotion. A name that elicits joy, intrigue, sophistication or other feelings gets encoded deeper in customer memory and keeps your business top of mind. Even at a subconscious level, certain sounds, rhythms and patterns naturally stick better than names lacking distinctiveness.

When naming his new watch company, Armando Simon wanted a name that felt luxurious. He considered technical sounding names like Chronoscope Capital and Horologic Enterprises. But ultimately he landed on Tempus Luxury Watches, whose lyrical, Latin cadence aligned with the brand"™s elegant aesthetic.

Kara Goldin hit a home run with the name Hint Water, which played into the teasing, delightful feeling of flavorful hints in plain water. "œWe partnered with a naming firm, but "˜Hint"™ came organically from my own brainstorming. It just felt right," shared Goldin. The name popped unlike flat competitors like True Water and Deep Spring.

If your target demographic has strong emotional ties, leverage names that tap into those feelings. Winc co-founder Brian Smith named his wine club after the joy customers would feel "œwhen" that monthly box arrived. The name Winc captured their mission of making wine exciting and approachable.

Look at craft names like Etsy and Zoomcar that are fun to say and easily remembered. Names using poetic devices like alliteration, rhyme and rhythm aid recall. Software firm HubSpot rolls off the tongue. Feather furniture"™s repetitive F sounds keep the name floating in minds.

Consider your brand story and origins for inspiration. SoulCycle"™s name reflects the mind, body and soul experience of their spin classes. Expat Espresso nods to the owner"™s journey living abroad. Names with authentic meaning have sticking power.

Keep your audience and tone in mind. B2B tech firms often opt for serious, sophisticated names like Oracle and IBM that convey enterprise-grade expertise. But consumer brands lean playful, like sunglasses site Warby Parker or mattress brand Casper that feel more inviting and approachable.

Test names with your ideal buyers through focus groups or surveys. Track metrics like memorability and positive sentiment to identify winning options. Leverage tools like linguistics analysis to optimize phonetic properties tied to memory.



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