A crucial element of a great company is a great name.
“Given the proliferation of small businesses and the need to be able to buy a domain name that aligns with your business’ name, naming a company is a lot harder than it used to be,” says Rob Croll, an internet marketing consultant and founder of Marlannah Digital Marketing, a firm that assists small-to-medium sized businesses in capitalizing on internet marketing opportunities, as well as the director of Full Sail University’s Internet Marketing master’s and bachelor’s programs.
In the Internet Marketing master’s degree program at Full Sail, students complete strategic coursework that prepares them for manager- and director-level roles in digital marketing. Many of them choose to launch their own companies or consulting businesses, and they’re faced with the challenge of giving their new brand a great persona. Yes, doing great work is more important, but a catchy name doesn’t hurt either.
Course directors in Full Sail’s Internet Marketing bachelor’s and master’s degree programs discuss brand names and identifiers in certain courses (past lectures have included guest speakers such as Alexandra Watkins of San Francisco’s Eat My Words, a consulting company dedicated to helping companies come up with great names), and they also have experience naming their own companies and brands. Here, a few of their tips.
Do a little brainstorming.
Come up with a few words that describe the potential company or product, and then take each of those words on a brainstorming adventure. Look at their definitions on freedictionary.com, and then check out synonyms on thesauraus.com. Head over to Google and do a web and image search of the word. Type the word into iTunes and see what song titles come up. Essentially, play a giant game of word association, which can generate a surprising amount of ideas.
Avoid using acronyms or your own name.
Acronyms are a stumbling block, and they don’t tell anyone what a name means. It’s tough when someone uses their own name as a company, because it doesn’t say anything about what the company does. “It’s harder to grow a business when other people are offering the same service you provide, but your name doesn’t say anything about that,” says Carol Cox, co-founder of InterMedia Solutions Inc., a web and mobile design and development service, and course director of Full Sail’s Strategic Internet Public Relations class.
It’s better to brand a personal company with a business name, and it makes it easier to potentially sell the company down the road.
Allow least a couple of weeks to come up with a solid name, because it’s not ideal to change a company name once it’s been established. In the future, choose only to refresh a logo or tagline. A name change could end up confusing clients and causing a loss of business.
Be catchy, but be relevant too.
“I would be less concerned with catchiness if that’s possible,” says Croll. “If you can name your business something that makes it clear what you actually do, that’s helpful.”
For those who decide to go the catchy route, be ready to spend some time – and money – explaining exactly what that name means. “When I first heard GoDaddy I had no idea what it was, but they put a lot of marketing money behind it to inform us as to what that brand represented,” says Maria Ferguson, a former market research analyst and Full Sail’s Internet Marketing master’s department chair. “If you do go with something catchy, know that it may require more marketing.”
Pay attention to trademarks.
This simple piece of advice might be the most important: Don’t use someone else’s name. Run a free trademark search at legalforce.com, and if possible, consult a lawyer.
Full Sail University’s Internet Marketing Master’s program equips students with the techniques that brands and businesses need in order to engage with consumers in the constantly-evolving digital world. To learn more, click here.