The Psychology behind Business Names: 6 Important Factors to Consider

Ivan Dimitrijevic
Aug 4, 2016 · 6 min read

Even the most ingenious business idea can easily get buried by a silly startup name. Regardless of how groundbreaking or masterfully crafted they might be, it’s not so rare that services or products advertised under a brand name that doesn’t stick with an audience remain unfamiliar or unappealing to them. Whatever the niche or your target customers, a great business name should promise and deliver an irresistibly engaging experience and bind all of the elements in your brand story together.

If you have big plans for your new startup, but struggling with a word to perfectly represent them all at once, here are some thoughts on how to come up with an alluring business name.

Study the Rules First, Brainstorm Later

Before commencing your brainstorming session, take some time to learn more about the factors that determine how intriguing your business name will be to the audience you’ll be addressing. Although it is a creative process, the art of forging a business name requires some insight into the market and customer behaviour. There’s a short list of unwritten rules that need to be followed in order to hit the mark, and you should definitely consider each of them.

  1. Explainability

When thinking of perfect business names, don’t’ get caught up with unconventional and yet unthought-of ideas from the very start, but reflect on how to best communicate your trade to the audience instead.

However original, a name should be able to deliver an information about your niche and specialties. If you are in the healthcare niche, for instance, your business name should include a word that associates to medicine, welfare and vitality, and stand as a part that triggers that information in your customers’ minds, thus making it perfectly clear what your products or services are.

Even though there are many successful businesses with a vague name that doesn’t refer to their specific niches, it’s always advisable that this part of your brand resonates with the audience as much as possible, particularly if your business is still in its startup phase.

2. Brandability

If unfamiliar with how significant a name can be for a business to thrive within its niche, simply think of it as a symbol of identity. A brand, just as much as its name, is what makes one company different from another, and convinces an audience why it is a better choice than the competition. Whenever we think of Nike, for instance, we don’t think of it only as an enterprise that sells sports apparel, but as a promise of quality, resistance and enduring athletic drive.

When cleverly created and developed, a brand connects an innovative product, a professional service and a backdrop story, all under one name. The role of a business name is therefore a crucial one, and it should convey not only vision and expertise, but distinctiveness as well. In less words, such a name should be quirky and intriguing enough to represent and support a unique brand.

There might be enterprises whose names became recognizable only after some time, but here is where great branding strategies come hand in hand with engaging business names — when one is slightly negligible, the other has to be flawless in order to ensure the success of an entire business.

3. Creativity

Judging only by the past two guidelines, brainstorming a perfect business name is not at all an easy craft. On one hand, a demand for an understandable name suggests staying within the boundaries of an already saturated niche, while on the other, a brandable name implies plenty of creativeness. Finding an appealing term that meets both demands is not simple, and you should put all of your creative efforts, wittiness and linguistic knowledge into action.

Only by doing so can you play around with word games and different meanings, morphemes from foreign languages and various types of word formations. To broaden your network of associations, be sure to consult the thesaurus, but for the rest of your brainstorming session, start off with a number of words that describe your business vision, expertise and uniqueness the best, then find their roots and begin forging as many new words as you can think of.

When you list them all, try shuffling them in different combinations, and pen down those you find most representative of your business and intriguing to you target audience.

While playing with words, you can try out different prefixes and suffixes (Alltuition, Shopify), compound words (Facebook, Geeklist), portmanteaus (Pinterest), puns (Florist Gump), even misspellings (Reddit). If you get carried away, be sure to double check how the written word sounds when pronounced in order to avoid the risk of making an unintentional blooper (The G Spot, Dogpile, AnalTech).

4. Memorability

Even if a name is creative enough to tickle the interest of your future customers, it still has to be memorable enough for them to consider as their first choice when in need of a service your competitors provide as well. An unusual and witty business name will always stick in your audience’s memory, but only if concordant with a few other demands.

First, extensively long names are less likely to get memorized, which is why you should always opt for shorter ones, except if your idea is simply brilliant and cannot be expressed in one word only.

Second, the name should always be catchy enough, which means that it’s not only instantly memorable, but haunting as well. For that reason, melodic names are the perfect example of catchiness that allows your customers to immediately think of your company once the need for your services appears.

5. Searchability

Sooner rather than later, every single business will need to develop a strong online presence if looking to achieve success with modern customers. As a carrier of your company’s identity, a business name travels far in the online environment and spreads the word of both your distinctiveness and the quality of your service via different channels. Whatever your online presence strategies might be, your name should be quite easy to find via internet browsers, which requires a word that is not so difficult to spell.

Additionally, it affects the domain name of your website, which is why being searchable is even more important. If customers are forced to dig through the bottomless hole that is the internet in order to find your contact or online store, they’ll be quick to settle for your competition. Being accessible on the web is currently just as crucial as being present in the online environment, and your name should definitely contribute to that.

6. Availability

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential winners in accordance to the previous guidelines, don’t start choosing the perfect one just yet. Instead, it’s time for a bit of market research — most niches are already pretty saturated, which means that plenty of competitor companies have already went through the same name forging process as you did. It’s possible that some of them have used the exact same techniques as you and came up with a similar or even identical business name.

Even if your chosen name is still unused and trademarked, going for the one that sounds similar to an already registered one is probably not a best choice. As we’ve covered previously, distinctiveness and uniqueness are crucial for beating the competition and attracting customers, and this is something that applies to your choice of business name as well.

In case your name is so creative that no one has thought of it before, don’t get too proud and excited to forget to check if the words you’ve forged it from are allowed for use in public domains. Some words are considered sensitive and offensive and, despite all of your wits, business names that include them can hardly be registered as legal.

If still struggling with a creative block, feel free to surf the web for inspiration, but never lose your unique vision. A perfect business name is a clever label that envelopes your distinctiveness, passion, professionalism, customer experience and the quality of your service, and neither of these traits should be left out of it.

Ivan Dimitrijevic

Written by

CEO, Co-founder & Team Leader at . My favorite topics: Business, Digital & Social Media, Online Marketing, Blogging and Content Marketing

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