How to Name Your Business

To name your business these days, you have to spend hours trawling through domain names, social media handles and thesauruses.

Because everything is TAKEN.


There are still some gems to be dug up if you’re smart – but finding the brand name you’ll have to live with for years ain’t easy.

5 steps to get your business name sorted:

1. Make a list of words you’d like people to say about your business

That’s the flavour you want your brand name to deliver. Give new customers a little taste of what’s to come.

If you want people to say your product feels like a treat, you need something that sounds sensual and luxurious (both very sensual and luxurious words!). If you want people to say you’re fun, you need something short, snappy and cheeky.

What we want people to say about us:

  • Simple
  • Down-to-earth
  • Cheap
  • Makes life easier
  • Clever

How we portray that with our brand name:

  • Simple: one/two syllables, familiar word
  • Down-to-earth: not artsy or corporate
  • Cheap: not expensive-sounding
  • Makes life easier: sounds quick, easy
  • Clever: something very different

2. Write down every word you can think of that ticks off that list

And then weep as you check for available domains. It’s a process.

Don’t be tempted to stick with one you really like and settle for a .tractor domain. Although people do put a little too much importance on domain names, it is better to prioritise .co.uk and .com if you can.

Try to get a list together of potential domains that are currently available and still fit with your intended vibe.

3. Ask people what your words make them feel

If you’ve got five potential names, ask five people. Giving them all to your mum will only be an exercise in frustration, trust me.

You want your test subjects to give you connotations that match your list of things you’d like people to say about your business. If they come up with a load of random or embarrassing connotations, run it past someone else to check – but you’ll probably need to move on.

4. Interrogate the brand names you like

Will people remember it?

It helps if you choose a word that people have seen written down. Made-up names are easier to work with because you’ll stand more chance of getting the domain – but people will misremember it, misspell it and even be embarrassed to try to say it. Not good.

I’ve been trying out onomatopoeia recently, which I think are a good option to explore because we’ve all seen them written down in comic strips (Zing! Pow! Bosh!), so they’re familiar and emotive but not everyday words, which are guaranteed to be taken.

Will they be able to find it?

You have to rank for your brand name. Do a few searches of your chosen name and see what comes up. If you’re going to be competing with a lot of other, similar brand names, you may want to go back to the drawing board.

You’ll always get hits for whatever word you search but don’t be put off by the results if they’re from other countries – search engines will usually prioritise your business for UK searchers over foreign websites.

Something to look out for is anything embarrassing that people could mistakenly think is you. A domain that’s too similar to yours or the same name but a different website…don’t risk an embarrassing situation.

It’s also important to check how the competition is for [brand name] + [keywords]. Try searching your name and key products to make sure you’ll stand a chance.

Will you like it in five years? Ten?

Personally, I’m sick of the Scribblr, Dribblr, Nibblr trend. Of course, people started doing this because no domains were available – but it’s so tired now.

Don’t choose anything that’s trendy in 2018 because it won’t age well. litgarms.com is OUT. (Although, it is available if you want to make the mistake for yourself.)

Will it grow with your business?

The brand name you launch with has to have room to include new products as you grow. Think about how you might diversify in the future; if your brand name now is too specific, you may struggle to tack on more products later

Will it appeal to all your target audiences?

If you’re intending to launch with two products – one for teenagers and one for grandparents – will your brand name appeal to both of them? Is there any way the name could alienate one group?

5. Secure your domain and handles

As soon as you think you’ve hit on the brand name you like, check you can still get the domain and hunt down the social media handles you want so you can set up accounts before they get nabbed.

Don’t freak out too much about social handles matching your domain 100% (they’re all taken, man) because you can put in an underscore or any number of tricks to work around the problem.

An important thing to check is that your domain and handles are easy/not rude to read in lowercase. Never forget the hashtag #susanalbumparty. Poor Susan Boyle.

Then – BUY THE DOMAIN. Immediately.

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