Are you trying to find the perfect name for your product, service, or business? Do you want to attract your ideal customer, give them a clear sense of what you sell, and have total confidence that you are legally able to use that name?
If that sounds like you, I can help.
I spent 12+ years in marketing and business development for brand-focused companies – many of those years with Apple. I’m an experienced business coach, mentor, and teacher. I’ve also spent years coaching early-stage entrepreneurs, coaching and mentoring a wide variety of startups, and building my own business.
From this experience, I’ve got some pretty solid experience on how to name your product, and why it matters.
Now, I know people who would say, “Your product name doesn’t matter, just start.” But that doesn’t sit right with me. Here’s why: your brand is important, and your name is a part of that brand. It is a declaration of what you do and who you are. It woos your target customer. And – importantly – a great name is also legally available for you to use.
A great name:
- Is easy to remember
- Communicates clearly what the product is
- Isn’t someone else’s product name (and doesn’t sound like someone else’s product name)
In this post, I’m going to share my 3-step process on how you can find your perfect name.
By the end of this post, you’ll know how to brainstorm for your perfect name, and create a short-list of great options to consider.
And in my next post, I’m going to tell you exactly what to do next to help ensure your target customers can find you and that your chosen name is legally protected.
Your Company Name vs. Your Product Name
First off, let’s be really clear about the difference between your company name and your product name. (And, for brevity, I’m going to use “product” for products, programs, and services.)
Your *company name* is the name you use on legal stuff. Registering your business, opening a bank account, and filing your taxes are great examples. In my case, my business name is Wendy Kotila International, LLC.
Your *product name*, however, is the brand name you put out into the world. (And you might hear this referred to as “brand name.” But note that the brand name is part of your brand, and not your brand itself. Your brand is much bigger than a name. More on that, later.)
For example, I’ve created a program for women entrepreneurs called She Gets Business. I own the URL www.shegetsbusiness.com and all the social media handles for both my own name and my product name. This makes it easy for people to find me and my program.
So how do you pick a name without getting overwhelmed by analysis paralysis?
Start With Your Customer, Product + Brand Vibe
I’m going to assume you already have a clear sense of who your target customer is, and what you plan to sell. (If you haven’t done a deep dive on this, it’s worth doing, and I’ll be writing about that later.)
For my business, I decided I wanted to coach women who have a burning desire to be their own boss, do something they love, and build something they’re really proud of. Maybe they’re in the early stages of working up the courage to start, or maybe they already have products / services and paying customers, and need to uplevel their business. (I have a much more specific customer definition, but will save that for another day.)
I’ll also assume you know what kind of brand vibe you want to put out into the world. How do you want people to feel when they think about your brand? What adjectives come to mind?
For my business, I want my brand to communicate valuable, effective, approachable, informal, and fun.
If you don’t already have a strong draft of this, steal away for a few hours and get everything in your head onto paper or your computer. This can and will evolve, but start here!
And remember – it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Now, Follow These 3 Simple Steps
It’s brainstorm time!
Grab your favorite pen and notebook, or a pile of sticky notes, or your computer. (You can also use one of many free online mind-mapping tools, or get old school, like the woman in our picture here, and do it by hand.)
1. BRAINSTORM WORDS RELEVANT TO YOUR PRODUCT
You might have a word you want to incorporate into your name that is part of your brand story. For example, here in Portland, there was a city block surrounded by buildings that for years hosted a herd of goats. People would stop and visit the goats daily. The goats were re-homed, but the building in its place is called The Goat Blocks.
Or you might want to refer to what the class is, and use that word, or a synonym. For example, if you were teaching something, you might look at class, school, academy, and so on. You can use Google to get a bunch of ideas here – just enter (your word) + synonym.
2. BRAINSTORM WORDS THAT FOCUS ON EMOTION OR OUTCOME
These words reflect the emotion you want your brand to project or your customer to feel. You can also use the outcome your customer will ideally have. You can even use verbs.
Examples might include:
- Emotion: friendly, informal, formal, elegance
- Outcome: skill, ability, experience
- Verbs: make, create, get, keep (these work great for taglines, too!)
Here’s how you can find words that work for you:
- Google “power words” and pull out what resonates for you
- Look at relevant hashtags on Instagram – what else is out there? What’s popular, and therefore commonly used and searched for? (This works better on a mobile device)
3. START MAKING WORD COMBOS
What works? What do you like? Try for 5-10 options.
You can share these with a few friends, and get their feedback (but be mindful of choosing friends who are aligned with your target audience).
Now, there is one more way you can brand, and that’s what I like to call “The Hipster Brand.” There are two types of hipster branding:
- Two words with “and” stuck between it. And this can certainly work. There’s a store I love here in Portland called Ink & Peat – but I have to Google it every time to remember its name!
- A mysterious single name. Loyly.
This is a valid way to go, but my preference is still the method above, as customers know right off the bat what you do.
A Few Great Examples:
- Tells us what it is, uses an action verb, and is full of brand vibe / emotion by using “awesome.”
- Tells us what it is. Unique and easy to remember. Redfish is part of the brand story.
- Tells us what it is. Is full of brand vibe. (People will stand in line for an hour for unique treats that often have naughty names and descriptions.)
A Bonus Tip
Here’s a bonus tip from me to you: keep your notes! You’ll come back to them again and again as your business evolves. Maybe it’s time to create a new product. I highly recommend Evernote for this. It’s a free, Cloud-based tool, that you can use on your computer, phone, or other mobile devices, and it all syncs together. That means when you have great ideas at 2 am or in the grocery line, you can capture them and find them later.
And that’s the end of Part 1! Now you’ve got a bunch of names to work with, which is hugely helpful if and when you need to go back and tweak.
In my next post, I’m going to tell you exactly what to do next to help ensure your target customers can find you and your name is protected.
Until then, happy business-building.
Wendy is the creator and founder of She Gets Business, an online community and five-week program for women who are ready to create the life they love, make the money they crave, and build something they’re super proud of.
She’s an experienced business coach, mentor, and teacher with a great love for education, technology, and empowering women and girls. She has 12+ years experience with companies like Adobe, Apple, and Google, and has coached oodles of entrepreneurs with products ranging from fancy frying pans to enterprise software.
Her true love is teaching women how they can apply these best practices to their own small business, take their business to the next level, and flourish.
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