[This article was written by Anand Srinivasan.]
What do Amazon, Kleenex, Google and Netflix have in common? These are companies with brand names that are so memorable that consumers tend to default to these products over competitors. Would Google and Amazon enjoy the same status if they were still known by their original names, Backrub and Cadabra respectively? This is a matter of speculation.
Your business name can potentially define the success you enjoy in the industry. In the case of Amazon, founder Jeff Bezos did not realize his branding goof-up until a lawyer misheard the brand name as ‘Cadaver’. Picking a brand name that is memorable and conveys your business proposition is absolutely crucial.
Build a list of choices
The first step in picking the right name for your business is to build a large list of potential choices. You could use a free tool like this one to instantly get a large list of potential business names. For instance, if you sell flowers online, you could key in a keyword like ‘florists’ or ‘flowers’ in the tool to get a large list of memorable business names.
In addition to this, you may also write down a list of potential brand names that connect with you personally. These brand names could be related to your family name, the place you come from or even something quirky. The idea is to build a large pool of names to choose from.
Another way to do this is to come up with a business name that defines the nature of your work. Take Click and Inc for example – not only is this brand name memorable, but it also succinctly explains what the business does – an online platform where users could click to incorporate a business.
Narrow down the list
Before we pick the right brand name, it is important to shortlist your favorites. You may do this yourself or ask your friends and family to help out. If you already have an established business, it is a good idea to ask for feedback from your customers. Not only does this help spread the word about your upcoming venture, it also makes your customers more invested in the success of your business.
Internet permeates all industries today and it is not a good idea to pick a business name whose domain name is not available. While it is not uncommon for businesses to use modern TLD (Top Level Domain) like .io, .ly and .me, it is a good idea to restrict yourself to .com domain names at least to begin with. A major chunk of internet users still relate to .com domains more than others. You should pick a domain on an alternate TLD only if you can make this a part of your brand name. Businesses like Bit.ly and About.me succeeded with this strategy.
The next step in the process is to know if the business name you like is available for you to register. Click and Inc provides a cheap and effective way to search the availability for your favorite business name across any state in the United States. If you are a brick and mortar shop, it is important to restrict your search to your state since this is where you will be paying your taxes.
It is worth pointing out that the unavailability of a name is not the end of the world. If you really like a business name and if that is not available, you may look at the possibility of registering your business under a different name and trademarking your choice as a brand instead.
Conduct a survey
Once you have finalized on the business name, it is important to take one step back and make sure that you do not have a ‘Cadaver’ moment that Amazon went through. A good way to do this is by using a survey tool like SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo. You may ask a series of questions to see if potential customers can associate the brand name with your product offering. Your survey must also touch upon other aspects of your business like if the customer views you as a premium brand or a discount retailer.
You may target these surveys at your target demographics with the help of Facebook ads. Depending on the results from the survey, you may either go ahead and register your business name or go back to the drawing board to pick an alternative.
Businesses spend millions of dollars each year in promoting their brands. It is important to pick a name that is not only memorable but also helps you attract customers.
Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion, a suite of free business apps and resources. Their email finder app is the most popular free tool to discover email addresses of prospective customers.