by Josh Spiro
Naming your business can be a stressful process. You want to choose a name that will last and, if possible, will embody both your values and your company’s distinguishing characteristics. But screening long lists of names with a focus group composed of friends and family can return mixed results.
Alternatively, a naming firm will ask questions to learn more about your culture and what’s unique about you–things you’ll want to communicate to consumers. One thing that Phillip Davis, the founder of Tungsten Branding, a Brevard, North Carolina-based naming firm, asks entrepreneurs is “do you want to fit in or stand out?”
It seems straightforward. Who wouldn’t want to stand out? But Davis explains that some businesses are so concerned about gaining credibility in their field, often those in financial services or consulting, that they will sacrifice an edgy or attention-getting name.
“However, in the majority of cases, clients want to stand out and that’s a better approach when looking at your long-term goals. Even the companies that say ‘I just want to get my foot in the door’ will usually begin wishing that they stood out more once they pass that first hurdle.”
Larger businesses can also end up with weak names but for a different reason. They “put a lot of money and time into testing a name to make sure that it doesn’t offend anyone and that everyone understands it,” says Alexandra Watkins, the chief innovation officer of Eat My Words, a San Francisco-based naming company. “That’s why larger companies end up having tame, descriptive, and flat names.”
The following guide will help you choose a defensible trademark and a search-friendly, recognizable name.