3 Tips to Find the Right Business Name

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First and foremost, congratulations! If you’re reading this then you likely have something exciting in the works. Maybe you have a new product that you’re almost ready to launch or a service concept that you’re putting the final touches on. Perhaps you already have a product out there but you’re looking to rebrand your business as a way to energize your audience and drive sales. Regardless, we are happy that you found yourself here. In this article, we are going to give you three practical tips to come up with the right business name for your venture.

Why is finding the right business name a challenge?

Most of us have been there before. You find yourself with a shiny new object in your life that you are so excited about! It could be a pet, kiddo on the way or perhaps the culmination of a project you’ve been working toward. The only thing left to do is come up with the perfect name. This should be easy, right?

The struggle is that it’s anything but easy to make a final decision. This is especially true for entrepreneurs and passion project pioneers. Coming up with the most impeccably right business name is a daunting undertaking.

Tip #1: Research the landscape.

Who doesn’t love an excuse to spend some time scouring the internet? Start by taking stock of the things you use in your life today. Everything from the clothing brands you wear to the tech products you use can be potential sources of inspiration for company names. Hop on to your favorite search engine or begin typing in the companies one at a time, paying particular attention to their business names.

Ideally, you will have a notebook handy so you can take down your thoughts in real-time. Consider what resonates with you in both a positive and negative way. Having a sound grasp of what you do not want in a name is just as vital as knowing what you do want.

In your notes, try to compartmentalize your findings. For example, you could create themes for the different business name types you uncover. Perhaps the first theme is “formal names” you identify for companies such as Blackrock or The Vanguard Group. These are large, established companies with no flare or fluff to their name. The second theme could be “exciting names” for companies with unique spellings or wordplay. Companies that come to mind in this category might include Krispy Kreme or Whataburger.

As you build out your themes, keep a log of your preferences. By the end of your research, you should have a clear understanding of your non-negotiables. As a guide, below is our list of considerations to help you on your journey. You can use the prompts as a starting point to build from. If you are feeling especially inspired and want to surf the web even more, try installing the Mix plug-in to your browser.

Prompt DecisionExamples
Will my business name be fun or serious?FunToys-R-Us, Chick-Fil-A
Will my business name be spelled correctly or purposefully incorrect?Purposefully misspelledFlickr, Tumblr
Will my business name be one word or multipleOne wordUber, Amazon
Will my business name be a real word or made up?Made upNetflix, Shopify
Prompt ideas to help you find the right business name

Tip #2: Test out your ideas.

As your research continues, jot down every single name idea that you have. Remember, no idea is too outlandish or crazy. If you have a hunch that something sounds like a solid business name then chances are that you’re on to something.

Eventually, you will want to narrow your list to the top five to ten options. These are the top contenders and theoretically, you would be happy to settle on any of them. Next, assemble one (or a few) trusted advisor(s) and gather their feedback. Once you’ve had a chance to marinate on what you heard from your feedback team, there’s only one step left.

Tip #3: Confirm that your idea is unique.

Last but not least you will have to make sure your name isn’t taken. Time to hop back online and get to digging. We recommend leveraging Google, domain search platforms like GoDaddy, archive.org, and your government trademark catalog as the minimum amount of research. Now, there are a few things to consider here. If you have a name that exists in another industry that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s game over. Look at us for instance. We live in the same world as wheelhouse.com, wheel-house.com and usewheelhouse.com and we all get along just fine. In our opinion as non-legal experts, the general best practice is to try to make sure your name is differentiated within the industry you’re entering.

Show me more resources!

Another resource that our team has found extremely helpful is Pat Flynn and the Smart Passive Income platform that he has created. According to Pat, the importance of finding the right business name for a product, service or even an internal project is critical. In this YouTube video, conveniently titled How to Name our Business Things (Brands, Products, Services, Courses), Pat shares his own experience and provides some extremely valuable real-life examples.

Workbook front cover page
The Name-Storming exercise is one of six within this workbook.

Navigating this process can be intimidating, but Wheelhouse Factory is here to help! Our team has built a brainstorming exercise for just this occasion. We lovingly and unironically call it the Name-Storming exercise. It is the perfect tool to help you find the right business name and can be found within the Creativity Workbook located in our store.

Thank you so much for reading! Feel free to send us your feedback at info@wheelhouse.com. You can also sign up for our newsletter here and be notified as new content becomes available.

– Trevor Lightfoot

Wheelhouse Factory Team - Trevor Lightfoot - Executive Officer - headshot photo

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