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Pre-Startup Resources

Our Guide to Naming Your Product or Business [Free Checklist]

Before you decide on a name, follow this 10-step guide to make sure it's a perfect fit.

When you’re starting a company, there’s one important question you need to answer: what will you name it? It’s hard to build a website or start social media without a definitive identity. Or maybe you’re having another problem. You want to launch a new product, but you need to figure out a name first.

Either way, you don’t want to spend hours brainstorming only to find out that all your ideas are taken or don’t work for some reason. Here are 10 things you should do before you decide on that name.

Steps to naming your product or business:

  1. Can you get the domain related to your company name? Is it a domain with a .com or a .org or other high-value, top-level domain?
  2. See what currently comes up when you search on the name. Use different search engines like Google, Bing or DuckDuckGo to get different results. Don’t just look at the top few results. Open an incognito window so your search isn’t impacted by your search history. Are there businesses with similar names? Are there similarly named organizations that you wouldn’t want to be associated with?
  3. What do the search engines suggest for the name, if anything? (i.e. Do the search engines assume you are misspelling another word?)
  4. Can you claim the social media accounts associated with the new company/product name? Best case scenario – will you be able to get the same username in all the primary social networks?
  5. Is the name too long to fit into social media username length limitations?
  6. If the name is an invented name, run it through different translation tools to see what the word might mean in different languages, especially the languages spoken in the countries you will be doing business in. If possible, get a native speaker to review the name. You don’t want to be using some slang that hasn’t yet made its way into the translator tools.
  7. Use the free search options on the US Patent and Trademark Office website. Check out the Secretary of State’s business listings for your state.
  8. Use the name in conversation – is it awkward, a tongue-twister or producing too much sibilance? Answer your phone using the name. Do you have to repeat it before people understand it?
  9. Do you have to spell the name for others? Correct the spelling from others? Do word processors constantly want to change the name to something else?
  10. Ask others what they think of when they hear the name. Better yet, ask prospective customers what they think of it!

When you’re done naming your business, product or venture, you can dive into your brand identity. Here’s a guide to get you started: What’s the Difference Between Branding and Marketing?

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