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How to Choose a Business or Brand Name

Following are some tips (from my own experience) on choosing a name for your new business or product. Generally, the name needs to be: available (in some form) as a website URL; be broad enough to accommodate growth into a new area; have an intuitive spelling; and add to the value of the business.

1. Check your state’s business registry.

To be sure that the name is available.

2. There is an available URL

This used to be an afterthought, but now it should be your primary consideration. Even with the explosion of new websites in the last few years, there are a surprisingly large number of decent URLs still available. But, you will have to be creative. For example, if your company name is “U.S. Medical Labs” you will probably have to go with something like “usmedlabsinc.”

3. The spelling is straightforward and intuitive.

Your sales people are going to be leaving a lot of phone messages and talking to a lot of people—it’s much easier for everyone if there aren’t two or more ways to spell the name. You want to avoid continually correcting the misspelled version of the name—and this extends to your web address. Everyone can figure out how to spell “usmedlabsinc.com”.

4. Opt for words with letters that invoke strength.

Certain letters, such as K, V, X and Z evoke strength—Q does too, but you don’t want people constantly asking if there is a U after it.

5. Pick a name that’s broad and won’t ever require a rebrand as you grow.

Rebrands are expensive, but sometimes necessary when your product line expands or you move to a new city. So don’t limit your business to a particular product or a specific city, i.e. “Lightening Technology” not “Tampa Computer Products” (Tampa actually has more lightening than anywhere else in the world—but then if you are a sports fan, you know this).

6. Choose a name that has meaning (to your market).

Think about the most desirable attributes for the products you sell. Look for a term that resonates, i.e. “Clear Imaging” for a graphics studio.

7. Say the name out loud and gauge the reaction.

Create a little focus group of family and friends. They should be able to understand it the first time. If they ask you to repeat it, go another way.

8. This is the limit of focus groups.

#6 is the only reason you need a focus group. If you use a focus group to gain consensus, you are going to end up with a name that everyone finds just acceptable.

Once you’ve decided on a name, sit on it. And sit on it past the second-guessing stage. No one likes a name as much the day after they pick it and every new name sounds better than the original—at first. So wait a week or more, let it cycle through your brain.

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