Choosing a brand name is so damn difficult and frustrating. It’s probably one of the most important business decisions you’ll ever make, and you’re, understandably, feeling this massive pressure to get it right!
You might have spent hours (or days, or weeks) on it already, and come up with a big, fat nothing.
Because you know that the problem with a lot of business names is that they’re just a bit, well … meh. They’re not exactly memorable or original and they end up blending in with everyone else in their industry.
So the first thing we want you to do is to close down all those tabs looking at your competition’s names. Instead, follow our easy step-by-step process to create a stand-out brand name that your audience will love.
And don’t forget to download our brand name checklist. Once you’ve decided on your brand name (which you will have done by the end of this blog post), you will need to ‘stress-test’ it through our checklist so you can be 100% sure your brand name doesn’t, ya know, break any laws. Or other companies don’t have the same name, the social handles are available, etc.
Ready? Let’s go!
What do we mean by brand name?
Firstly, when we say brand name, we mean either the name of:
- Your business
- Your new service, package or product, and so on.
Giving services or packages their own names is such a good idea if you want to elevate what you do.
Take one of our Rebels’ clients, Janine Coombes. Janine has created some brilliant names for her services, such as her ‘Untangling Call’, which she could have named ‘a one-hour consultation’. Instead, Janine communicated clearly what you can achieve if you hire her for this service, i.e. an untangling of your problem!
So don’t just limit creative, memorable names to your business name. Think about how this can extend to your products or services too!
How to come up with your brand or company name
Step One: Come up with a list of words you want to associate with your brand
If you’d prefer, you can watch our quick video on this too! But it’s well worth having a read of this blog post for extra tips and info!
If you’re a solopreneur or a small team, you’re at a HUGE advantage right now. Because words that are associated with your business are often words that describe you!
Larger businesses often have to ‘manufacture’ a brand, but you don’t. You can use your personality and the way you speak to your customers to help you create your brand name.
So grab a pen and paper, because the first thing we want you to do is to think about what you’d like someone to say about your business when you’re not in the room.
For example, let’s say you’re an SEO consultant helping small businesses rank on search engines. You might put:
- Makes SEO fun (so fun would be your main word here)
Don’t overthink it at this point, just write whatever comes to mind.
Play the ‘No-wrong-Answer Game’ – where you just write everything that comes into your head without thinking or criticising. Negativity and criticism are the killers of creativity.
You can edit later – for now, it’s time to be creative. Stand up, move around, play music and get into the creative mode. Ask a friend to help you if you need to.
What about your USP? Do you need to focus on that?
A USP (or unique selling point) is something that you do that differs from your competition. For example, a website designer who also has a good understanding of how to write website copy. A marketing coach who’s also a whizz with numbers and can bring that to the table when they help their clients.
Even though these are things you should shout about on your website, they aren’t necessarily your ‘brand’.
The problem with a USP is that often the ‘unique’ part isn’t unique. There are probably other website designers who also have a good understanding of how to write website copy. Or marketing coaches that ‘get’ finance.
As cheesy as it sounds (get ready for some cheese), the thing that makes your business unique is … YOU!
No one can copy your awesomeness. (Yes, it is a word.)
Your personality and the way you act online are what will draw people to you. So, focus on that for your brand name and you won’t go wrong.
This is why this exercise is much easier for solopreneurs or personal brands.
Step Two: Cut the crap words that make your brand name boring
We like to call these ‘baseline brand values’, and by that, we mean words like ‘professional’, ‘friendly’ and ‘approachable’.
These are words that could describe all businesses and are the minimum your customers expect from your business. Everyone should be approachable. It’s good, but it’s not unique. These words don’t really say anything, so cut them out.
Step Three: Invite business friends for their input
This is a really important step that we don’t want you to miss!
Ask some of your business friends what words spring to mind when they think of you/your business.
You’d be amazed at what people say! The number of times we say to our members in our Atomic Growth Club, “We see you as XYZ!” and a light bulb goes off in their head!
You’ll discover brand-new things people value about you and your business that you’d never considered before. Plus, you know, it’s a nice little ego boost too 😉
Just remember, try not to ask everyone and their dog for their opinion! You’ll run the risk of ‘death by consensus’. Try to stick with ‘business-minded’ friends as they’ll understand the task much more than your auntie!
Let’s carry on with that example from the SEO consultant. We’ve removed ‘professional’, ‘approachable’ and ‘friendly’, and added in some new words (after our hypothetical SEO consultant asked their friends).
- Makes SEO fun (so fun would be your main word here)
Step Four: Find better words for your business name
The next thing to do is head over to thesaurus.com and throw in your words.
This will expand your selection and give you words you’d never thought about before, and from there, you can start to build a really good list of stand-out, original words that describe your brand.
Continuing with the SEO consultant, here are some words that come up when you type in:
Fun: blast, entertainment, laughter
Uncomplicated: effortless, painless, no sweat
Confidant: buddy, pal, companion
From here, you can start to pick out words that really resonate with you. For example, ‘buddy’ for our made-up SEO consultant.
Perhaps, now, the name ‘SEO Buddy’ appeals?
‘Buddy’ encompasses everything they’re about – someone who will tell it to you straight, keep it simple, have your back and make you laugh. Someone who doesn’t use jargon or appear too stuffy! Sounds good!
Step Five: Let your new brand name sit with you
The final important step is to let your brand name sit with you for a few days. Don’t just jump right into getting your logo designed!
You might have more ideas that snowball from your original one.
Take us. We went through the exact process above and uncovered the phrase that reflected everything we stood for as a brand:
Small and mighty.
We believe that being a solopreneur is the best thing ever. You can scale your income and have ultimate flexibility and enjoyment from your business. A small micro-business isn’t a bad thing, it’s the best thing!
We let this sit with us for a long time until Pete suddenly came up with atomic!
‘Atomic’ said the same thing – something small/micro and powerful, but it was a lot punchier and more memorable than ‘small and mighty’.
So, ATOMIC was born!
We still sat on this idea for a few weeks, though, and Pete took a while to come round to it (even though it was his idea!).
Bonus Step: Stress-test your brand name using our checklist
You’ll also want to make sure your brand name doesn’t break any laws. Or other companies don’t have the same name, the social handles are available, etc.
The best way to stress-test your new brand name is to download our brand name checklist. Go through the checklist, tick off each point, and make sure your name gets the go-ahead.
Want a real-life example of a brilliant business brand name?
We once attended a talk by Richard Reed, the co-founder of Innocent Smoothies, and we loved how they came up with their brand name.
It took nine months of deliberation and a three-second realisation to come up with Innocent.
The three-second realisation came when they said to themselves, What is it we’re trying to say? What are we trying to get across? What do we believe in?
And their answers were ‘unadulterated goodness, purity and nature’, hence ‘innocent’!
It’s only by going through the process above that you can come up with the perfect words to represent your brand. It’s something we’ve used to name both our Rebels accelerator programme and our Goal Getters programme!
Should you use your name as your business name?
This is a question that crops up for us a few times in our ATOMIC membership. There are pros and cons to using your personal name or using your business name, and we’ve gone through these below:
The pros of using your personal name
- It builds a personal connection
When you use your own name, you can build a quicker connection to your audience as they will know they’re talking to a person and not a company, though this is easily achieved when you have a business name – it’s all about the website copy and images!
- You can change business direction with ease
Your name won’t reference anything to do with your business (unless you tag that on at the end), so you can change direction with ease!
- It can be more memorable if you build your personal brand big enough
People remember personal names more than business names. As an example, we recall the name Pat Flynn more than the name of his company, Smart Passive Income.
The cons of using your personal name
- If it’s a common name, you might not appear at the top of search engines
Hello, John Smith! Yes, it can be difficult to rank your name if it’s a common one or if you share your name with a celebrity. This can make it difficult for people to find you, especially if they don’t know your web address.
- If it’s difficult to spell, people might struggle when googling
If you have a name that is difficult to spell, people may spell your name incorrectly and struggle to find you!
- It’s extremely difficult to sell (if you ever want to do that)
It’s way more difficult to sell a personal name business than a business name, so bear that in mind if selling is something you want to consider in the future.
- If you build your team, then what?
It might not be just you forever, so then what happens? This is often why you see businesses with ‘& Co’ after their name.
To get around this, you can use a business name and set up a website using your personal name too. So, if someone Googles your name, you can simply redirect your personal named website to your business one. Easy as that!
Does SEO matter when coming up with a brand or company name?
Sometimes, people ask if they need to include a keyword in their business name so they can rank on search engines. For example, ‘Website Design Norfolk’.
The answer is no. It’s not a ranking factor as much now and there’s plenty you can do to make sure you rank, even when your name doesn’t include exactly what you do. It’s much more advantageous to have a memorable, stand-out name than one that sounds boring because you’ve included a keyword!
But, do prioritise clear over clever. If you have an ‘out-there’ name like ‘Zoom’ (the video conferencing software), make sure your subheading is super clear about what it is that you do. One of Zoom’s tag lines on their website is, ‘One solution for meetings, chat, whiteboard, phone, and more so you can connect with anyone from anywhere.’ Simple!
And if you’re still nervous, remember this…
You can always change your name in the future.
Yes, it’s a bit of a pain but, what we’re trying to say is, don’t let choosing a name stop you from moving forward in your business.
We’re actually going through this process right now. We’re moving from the name ‘Andrew and Pete’ to ‘ATOMIC’.
Yes, the process is a pain in the backside, but it really isn’t the end of the world.
It’s much better to just get cracking on making sales than deliberate the name for months.
Finally, don’t forget to download your brand name checklist just below!