You’re all excited about your new venture and it’s finally time to turn your business idea into reality. For most of us, coming up with the idea is the easy bit. Brainstorming the perfect business name can be a little more tricky.
How to Brainstorm the Perfect Business Name
I break it down in more detail further down this post, but if you like a simplified low-down, here’s a quick overview:
- Step 1: Brainstorm all of the words
- Step 2: Write a mission statement
- Step 3: Creative word combinations
- Step 4: Check name availability online
To be honest, the most annoying part of all of this? All the best domain names have been taken already. It’s not that you’re not a creative naming genius (of course you are!), it’s just that someone has more than likely already jumped on that idea.
The real struggle is finding a 3rd, 4th or 5th choice that still makes your heart skip a little beat.
And that’s why these techniques are great. You’ll end up with a nice big pool of names to pick and choose from, that you can tweak and massage into something not only awesome, but also unique (hurrah!)
To help you with this exercise, I’ve created a worksheet that you can fill out as you go through the exercise. It’s an editable PDF so you can either fill it out on your computer, or print it out and use pen and paper the old fashioned way.
Step 1: Brainstorm all of the words!
This exercise doesn’t need to take long, but just make sure it’s focused.
Set aside some time, grab your worksheet and clear some mental space.
You ready? Good.
First, write down the product or service you will be offering at the top of the page.
Then, start writing down all the words and ideas you associate with your product or service. Don’t stop to think, or to edit, just keep getting those words down.
I want to start up a business as a holistic nutrionist.
On my worksheet, I write the following words: Nutrition, holistic, health, wellbeing, food, delicious food, healthy food, etc…
When you run out of ideas, grab a thesaurus (or go online, let’s be realistic here) and keep adding to the list. Let your creative brain just dump out everything it can, later you’ll go back to sift through the rubble.
Continuing our example, after some time with the thesaurus, I added the following words to my list: Diet, nourishment, rations, snack, victuals, sustenance, alternative, therapy, healthful, wellness, physical wellbeing, prime, robust, clean bill, euphoria, vigor etc…
Step 2: Write a mission statement
Don’t start getting self conscious now! No-one ever has to see these words and sentences (unless you choose to share them).
Not too much thinking, just write down a few sentences about how you visualise your business and what you want to achieve.
As a nutritionist, my mission would be to provide healthy diet and lifestyle alternatives for my clients. I want to clearly demonstrate the benefits of choosing the right food for a healthy and happier outlook on life. I want to be seen as knowledgeable, caring and competent.
Read over your mission statement, and add the relevant keywords (I’ve bolded them in the above paragraph) that jump out onto your list.
Go back to your thesaurus again, and keep adding to the new words. Remember, keep an eye out for words that are striking, maybe a bit different (but not so different that they obscure your message), or that hit you in the gut as having some sort of potential.
This stage of the exercise is all about giving free rein to your creative instincts, so if a word jumps out and grabs you, grab it back and chuck it in your list.
Step 3: Brainstorm creative word combinations
Time for a break. Take a breath. Chances are you’ve got a mini-mountain of business-related keywords staring back at you.
What’s next? Go make yourself a cup of tea or coffee. Let your brain do some percolating below the surface.
However, if ideas do start jumping into your mind, jot them down – no use letting them go to waste! Sitting back down with your long list of words, start looking to see if you can combine any of them together.
Keep an eye out for:
- Common sayings
- Alliteration (words beginning with the same letter or sound)
- Words that rhyme
- Words that contradict each other.
Now’s a good time to let your logical brain back in on the action. Don’t get too carried away with the rhymes or the poetics if they don’t actually reflect back to your core business. Keep going back to your product or service written at the top of the page. Also refer back to the mission statement you wrote – it may be clunky, but it will probably be honest.
- Happy, Healthful & Holistic
- Prime Wellness
- Caring Nutrition
- Clean Outlook
These aren’t necessarily the perfect name yet, but there are definitely some with potential. Remember, I only did the exercise as a theoretical one, your results will be even better!
Step 4: Check availability online
This by far is the step the sucks the most. You’ll come up with a perfect name for your business, but it will already be taken.
Be prepared for this to happen a few times, before you finally get something that works AND you can use.
The list of tools below can not only help with some of the brainstorming process, they also let you know quickly if the domain name is still available.
Online Tool 1: Bust A Name
- You can type some words in the left box, and it will jumble them up in different permutations depending on what’s still available as a domain name.
- Play around with the check boxes down the bottom, trying 2 or 3 word combinations and adding in ‘the’ or ‘my’ to see what comes up.
Online Tool 2: Business Name Generator
- You put a word (or 2) in the search box, and it makes random selections based on what is still possible.
- There can be loads to wade through, but it helps with some lateral thinking ideas.
Online Tool 3: Name Check
- Just having an available domain name isn’t enough!
- You’ll probably want to get on social media, so run your shortlist through this tool to make sure the platforms you will use are also available
Related post: How to Register Your Domain Name
Final tips on choosing the perfect business name
- Try not to make your business name difficult to spell or pronounce. Avoid using negative sounding words.
- You don’t necessarily need to find a name that encompasses EVERYTHING you do or offer – your business is going to grow and evolve, so don’t get too bogged down in a name that’s too literal.
- Try not to pick a very generic name – inject your personality into the process.
- Try to steer away from any names using hyphens (mainly because it gets clunky to say)
- If you get a name you’re happy with, don’t forget to double check similar sounding websites that already exist (in your niche)
And finally, have fun with the process, and enjoy that feeling when you finally nail the perfect business name!
Don’t forget to download this worksheet I put together to help you with the process.
Founder - Your Web Toolkit
Cathy is a graphic and web designer, who helps online entrepreneurs and small business owners with their online marketing and design.
Through bespoke projects and training for DIY efforts, she aims to help her clients grow their businesses in a reliable and affordable way.