A question I get asked a lot by new business owners and even brand leaders is, ‘where do I start when naming my company?’ It is understandable that many new business owners, even those who have named a few companies before, are scared at the start of the naming process.
Who Do You (Read: Your Business) Want to Be When You Grow Up?
Asking who you (or your business) want to be in the future means taking a wide-angle view. What are your main business aims? Who are you trying to attract as customers? What other brands have inspired you? How do you want to position your brand? Can you imagine what your future storefront or website will look like? This is all part of taking a 10,000-foot view. And it can be really tough when you’re starting a business and you are spending a lot of time on the details.
The 10,000 Foot View
A parable we use a lot at Squadhelp is the pizza shop entrepreneur. You’re starting your pizzeria, and your spending hours, morning and night, thinking about the details of your business. You’re investing countless hours in determining the perfect amount of oregano for your sauce. To name a business you have to take a huge step away from the standard detail-oriented aspects of launching.
You must start with a wide-angle, 10,000-foot view and then zoom in. Thinking about a business from this perspective is a little like abstract art. Abstract art is made to leave an abstract impression, even a general feeling, it is not designed to depict a detailed sense or convey a concrete concept. Just like art, the brand dialogue begins with feeling and big ideas. Compare Wassily Kandinsky’s Composition X, Piet Mondrian’s Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow, and Jackson Pollock’s Convergence, and you’ll see just what we mean.
When we get into feeling, we begin to think about name types. Some of the most popular are: preeminent, solution-focused, modern, playful, and emotionally powerful. In fact, I’ve found that 80-90 percent of business names fit into one of these naming categories.
An emotional name elicits feelings in your audience– The Honest Company is a great example. While a solution-focused name might simply say what makes your startup unique– QuickPay and PayPal are both fantastic solution-focused names. This, as you can probably see, is where we’re really starting to zoom in.
Zooming in to Building Blocks
Building blocks are still ‘big ideas. They’re words, ideas, and concepts that are connected to your brand and help brainstorm what is unique about it.
Apple, for example, has always put human experience and functionality at the core of what they do. Apples have been part of being a person for millennia– they are tied to both myth, and the day-to-day. The epitome of the human experience. In this way, an apple is a great symbol for the core focus of the copy.
What you should be looking for is your brand’s version of what human experience is to Apple. When you discover what you want to convey at the center of everything you do, you can then move on to determining how you want to convey it.
Consider what makes you unique. Why is your pizzeria the best pizzeria in town? Construct a story to your name.
How to Make it Happen
Keep in mind that brand decisions are an extension of your business plan.
Then turn to some of these resources:
- Your experience in the industry (hopefully you have at least some)
- Conversations that you’ve had with real potential customers (even if you haven’t conducted rigorous and official research, you should definitely take the time to speak with real people within your target demographic to see how they are responding to your ideas)
- A trusted mentor who has gone through the process before
Write everything down as you go, and inviting input from your team and trusted friends Every naming process is unique and sometimes a spark of an idea from 3 months ago is just waiting to be polished into an incredible evergreen name that you’ve been looking for.