Think of a company name in 6 steps

Think of a company name in 6 steps Do you want to come up with a catchy company name as a starting entrepreneur? That's one of the best ...

Think of a company nameThink of a company name in 6 steps

Do you want to come up with a catchy company name as a starting entrepreneur? That's one of the best parts of starting your own business. With a good trade name, you can distinguish yourself from the competition.

How do you come up with a good company name? Think of your own company name based on these six smart steps. You can also click directly on the step that interests you:

  1. Do the Lexicon 'come up with a company name' checklist

  2. Get help coming up with your company name

  3. Plan a (joint) brainstorming session

  4. Shortlist your company name

  5. Keep in mind the rules

  6. Check company name availability

coming up with a company name

There are entrepreneurs who see the name of their company as a kind of icing on the cake. Something you think of when you are completely done with the preparation. But beware: then you are actually too late.

Coming up with a perfect company name can take a while. Just think what you need it all for:

  • Your registration with the Chamber of Commerce

  • A website

  • Invoices

  • a logo

  • Email addresses

  • business account

So start coming up with your company name as soon as possible. This also helps you make the business more tangible. With these 6 steps, you can get started. 

1. Lexicon's Checklist

David Placek is the founder of Lexicon, the marketing company behind names like Starbucks, BlackBerry, and Swiffer. David has put together a handy checklist for coming up with your company name:

  • Short but sweet
    You often only need a few letters to make an impression

  • A clear purpose
    Your company name should speak for your company

  • Enthusiastic
    A boring name is a bad name

  • Simple
    You are not writing a speech

  • Relevant but unexpected
    At first glance, a good company name does not always have a clear link with the company. When customers think through it, they are pleasantly surprised. Just think of Amazon, the world's largest bookstore

  • Competitive
    Exactly what the competitor is not doing

  • Long shelf life
    Your name must withstand the test of time

  • Not too funny
    A company name is not the place to be funny. Not everyone will appreciate your humor

2. Involve your partner, (former) colleagues, friends, and family

Coming up with a catchy company name is something you can do yourself. But it is smarter to involve people from your environment in this process. It is largely about the association that people have with your name.

You may already have a clear idea of ​​what you want to call your company, but always present this title to your immediate environment first.

Perhaps that one name is very original in your opinion and fits perfectly with your future communication agency, but your partner does not see the logic in this at all.

It's better to come up with a recognizable company name. It is useful for the customer to immediately find out what you have to offer as a company. It shouldn't be a mystery. Make sure your company name clearly shows what products or services you offer on behalf of the company.

3. Plan a (joint) brainstorming session

If you want to start a company together with others, it is obvious to sit down together before coming up with a company name. But such a meeting can also be very useful for single players.

During the brainstorming phase, it is important that you try to think as broadly as possible, as long as the suggestions have a clear link with your sector and the product or service you want to offer.

Is Using a Business Name Generator a Good Idea? 

There are various generators available online where you can figure out a new name for your product or company with a few clicks. But: these are always names that were not created by you or those around you. The originality is missing in most cases, and worse, the personal touch is gone. Of course, a name generator can help you to think in just a certain direction. 

Write down all the names

So take a few hours to write down all the terms that come to mind. Write everything down.

It doesn't matter how illogical some names may sound, because you can always cross them out. Perhaps a bizarre trade name, at first sight, will give you completely different ideas later on.

Also invite one or two outside experts, such as a copywriter or close friend who is creative with words.

Three topics on paper

Stick to two to three topics that are clearly related to your future business, industry, and target audience.

For example, if it concerns an internet company that wants to develop apps for mobile payments, you can get started with themes such as 'bank', 'payment', and 'mobile'.

With 'payment' in this case, you could think of terms such as banking, money, euro, bank, or transaction. First, give all participants fifteen minutes to individually put their ideas on paper. Then the central brainstorming can begin.

4. Shortlist your company name

Have you gained enough ideas with this (or more) brainstorming session(s)? Then it's time to draw up a shortlist. Try to limit this list to a maximum of ten candidate trade names as best you can.

For example, it is less obvious for a civil-law notary to adopt a playful-looking company name than the owner of an advertising or communication agency or a nursery.

The company name should excite

Try to come up with a company name that fits the bill, but is also not too boring. It should also stimulate a little. When Microsoft was looking for a name for a new cloud platform, they stuck with names like Cloud Pro and Cloud Link. Not particularly inspiring. 

With the help of David Placek of Lexicon, they came up with a completely different kind of name: Azure. A clear and distinctive name. They chose this name because it was expected that 'the cloud' would be the future. The inclusion of 'cloud' in the name would then sound ordinary.

5. Be aware of the rules

Not every company name is accepted just like that. Certain rules are attached to this. If you want to set up an animal boarding house, you may not suffice with 'Pet boarding', for example.

You should at least add your name to this: 'Diana's Pet Boarding' or 'Diana's Dog, Cat, and Rabbit Boarding' is an option, if still available in your region.

Not allowed: misleading name

You are a sole proprietorship and put the letters eg after your company name. This is seen as deception and you are breaking the official rules.

Even with a name such as 'Mediamarkt-sale', you can sooner or later run into problems if clear agreements have not been made with the competitor in question.

6. Check company name availability

Perhaps unnecessarily, but before you can start using the chosen company name on your business website.

Create a business website and have a stack of business cards printed, first check availability at the Chamber of Commerce.

You may not simply adopt a company name that is already in use or that closely resembles the name of any competitors or existing brands. The conditions may differ slightly in mutual regions and branches.

Company name with similarities

If you want to open a 'Cofee Cafe' in a City in the USA, while there is already a cafe in the City with that name, that does not have to be a problem. The distance between the two locations and the name recognition of the competing group are decisive factors in this regard.

For a hotel chain such as McDonald's, for example, that would be a different story. That name is too well known to be copied elsewhere.

Avoid unnecessary disappointments by already Googling existing companies during the brainstorming that show similarities with the options you have in mind.

Check available domain names

Checking available domain names in time is also important: you don't want to have to juggle with (for example) vowels and/or numbers to find a similar domain name that is still available. That can cost you hundreds of visitors per month in the initial phase.

Outsource a company name

Have you not found a suitable name despite countless brainstorming sessions, online generators, or help from friends and professionals? Then you can consider outsourcing your search to professionals.

Outsourcing your company name makes it easier and more professional, but a little less personal. 

Thinking up a company name, tips

In short, keep this in mind when coming up with your company name: 

  • Don't make up the name until you register your company, but think about it early on.

  • A good company name is short but powerful, clear, enthusiastic, simple, relevant but surprising, unique, long-lasting, and not too funny.

  • Enlist help from your environment for brainstorming. Write everything down and then cross it out.

  • Don't violate copyright rules and don't mislead.

  • Check availability on websites, social media, and at the Chamber of Commerce.

  • At most, use an automatic name generator to think in a certain direction. 

  • If you really can't figure it out, consider a professional agency that comes up with names.

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