Choosing the perfect name for a business or a blog

Help them remember your name

Your business or your blog is your baby, and you should take as much care to choose the right name for it as you would for your first-born child. Names have power, a power that comes from the image they form in people’s minds, the way they distinguish your business from others in the market, and how they enable people to find and remember you when they want to do business with you.

With that in mind, here are 8 tips for naming a business or blog.

  1. Think about the values and image you want to convey.
  2. Brainstorm names.
  3. Keep it simple.
  4. Choose a name that can grow with your business.
  5. Don’t be too generic.
  6. Go for the timeless rather than the trendy.
  7. Test your name with others.
  8. Check for domain availability.
  1. Think about the values and image you want to convey

What’s your business or blog all about? What makes you different? What are your values? What matters to your customers? Reflect on these questions to come up with an appealing name that encapsulates your brand – perhaps jot down a few words you want associated with your company, such as trustworthiness, creativity, reliability, customer service, or innovation.

  1. Brainstorm names

The great brand names — like Amazon, Apple, Sprint and Infinity — often carry strong visual associations. Sometimes, it’s by pure luck or serendipity a business owner hits upon one of these striking names; sometimes, they have carried a brand name around in their heads for years, waiting for the right venture to use it.

But in many instances, they’ll come from brainstorming with a colleague or a friend to find the right name. You can start by considering words that:

  • Pertain to your industry, products or services.
  • Describe your competitors in your field.
  • Highlight the benefits of your products or services.

You can be literal and opt for a description of your blog or business – or go for a more metaphorical and provocative name. You can also look up Greek and Latin translations of your keywords, as well as foreign words to unearth a few good ideas. The important thing is to get a sheet of paper and fill it with names – no matter how weird or silly.

GoDaddy’s domain search tool can be very useful when brainstorming. When you do a search using that tool, you’ll get different extensions, such as .com, .net, etc., at the end of the web address. Plus, you’ll see names that are already taken but available for sale or auction.

  1. Keep it simple

Most of the brands you use every day, the publications you read and the companies you admire have short, simple names, like Tesla, Virgin or Facebook. When you’re choosing a name for a business or blog, opt for something people will find easy to write down and remember. If people can’t spell or remember your name, how will they Google you, type in your domain name  or recommend you to their friends?

Do: Choose strong, short words that are descriptive or convey motion and action.

Don’t: Use obscure words, words that are hard to pronounce or spell, or long abbreviations.

Be careful about: Naming your business after its flagship product (Jim’s Garden Furniture) or its location (Fourways Landscaping). The pros are that it can be great for search engine optimisation – the cons are that it can be hard for people to tell your company apart from the others in the market with similarly generic names.

  1. Choose a name that can grow with your business or blog

This tip is especially important if you have aspirations beyond running a small personal blog or a local business. Think about where you see your business in five or 10 years. Will the name you have in mind still work if you expand your product line from garden furniture into all gardening products or extend your service area beyond Fourways? If you have a blog, will the name stick when the audience is tens of thousands of people around the world rather than a couple of hundred local readers?

  1. Don’t use obscure words

Naming experts will tell you that the best business names are real words or a combination of real words, as opposed to made-up, spliced or oddly spelled words. You want your customers to be able to find you easily instead of going through dozens of spelling variations until they settle for your competition. A good business name is easy for customers to find and type online.

Obscure or invented names can work. Xerox is a great example. In fact, people even use Xerox as a verb: “Will you Xerox that for me?” However, obscure business names like this often require a huge marketing budget and tremendous effort — so it might be smarter to take a more straightforward approach if you’re working with a smaller budget.

  1. Go for the timeless rather than the trendy

Trends and fads come and go, but hopefully your business will grow and prosper for years to come. So, be careful about hitching your wagon to the meme or craze of the moment, and choose a name that reflects the values and differentiators that will remain import for people in five or 10 years from now. As an example, fad diets may run their course, but it’s safe that people will always value healthy food and exercise.

What about trendy blog names? You’re starting your blog to serve a certain niche, and that’s fine. Your blog’s content can be trendy while your name keeps you “fad safe.” That said, you need to stay true to your voice and brand, rather than playing to a trend for quick traffic. Naming a blog should be open-ended enough to allow you to shift your direction instead of requiring a full rebrand (aka starting from scratch.)

  1. Test your name with others

There’s a fine line between finding a name that really works for you and taking guidance from others. By all means ask friends, family, employees and customers for suggestions, but reserve the right to make the final choice yourself. And when you have narrowed your choice of names down to a handful, testing them can be helpful.

Share the names with a select group of people, and ask them questions like:

  • What feeling does the name evoke?
  • Is it easily recognisable or easy to remember and type?
  • Does it create an instant impression?
  • What words would you associate with this name?

Bonus points if the group includes your potential customer base (or buyer persona) because they will be your real-life audience. This doesn’t mean trying to choose a name that will appeal to everyone, but making sure your name is distinctive, carries the right associations for your brand, and doesn’t carry connotations that might seem silly or offensive.

  1. Check for domain availability

Once you’ve figured out how to name a business, head on over to GoDaddy and snag your domain name. Be sure to have a few backup ideas ready — it’s possible someone else might have already had the same idea. There are many industry-specific domain extensions to help you secure the perfect domain name for your business.

The power of a name

Like movie or book titles, blog and business names are priceless pieces of marketing that, at their best, capture a reader’s imagination, drawing them in. At worst, names don’t make any impression at all or get lost in a digital sea of similar monikers. So, keep in mind the basic guidelines for choosing an effective name. You want it to be memorable, of course, and to represent your unique brand at a glance.

This article has been adapted from an original piece by Bryan Caplan.

Bryan Caplan helps businesses elevate their digital marketing. The award-winning CEO of BJC Branding and professional speaker has provided digital marketing strategy to well over 1,000 businesses -- from startup to Fortune 500 -- since 2010. Bryan is a guest lecturer at the Suffolk University School of Business and a contributing columnist to several publications, including Constant Contact, BusinessTown and the Boston Business Journal. Invite Bryan to present at your next event.