Eoghan McCabe over on the Contrast blog wrote a post this week on 7 rules for choosing a business name. The rules come from a presentation by Marty Neumeier which can be found here.
Now I personally hate rules, or other peoples rules to be more specific. This is probably why I started Toddle to work under my own rules on how email should be done. What is interesting when looking through the list is how different my own approach is. Whether it is our design agency Spoiltchild, Toddle, Clothing company SheepStealers, Daddy and Son funky matching socks BigFeet LittleFeet or our image review web application FineTuna.
This is my own thought process when name storming.
1. Does it create a story?
Spoiltchild was the first, and it quickly showed me the importance of your name having a story.
Almost every first meeting I had with a client, the first question would come with a smile on their face. “Great name, where did you come up with it?”
And the honest reply would always lighten and relax the mood for a great meeting to follow. If reading this and you want the story you will have to meet me in person!
2. Is it memorable?
This ties in with point 1, does it create a story? Stories stick in our mind and get shared with others. The book Made To Stick is a must read on the power of stories in marketing. SheepStealer Clothing instantly creates an image or story in your mind and is also related to the product.
3. Is there humour?
This is my own personality. I always stray towards humour and playfulness. If a name seems to take itself too seriously it is instantly scrapped. But I also believe this connects with points 1 and 2. Humour connects on a personal level. To be funny it has to have a story that a person can connect with.
FineTuna came about when I misheard someone in the office say “…fine tune a design”. And I loved how a cat thinking about a fish in the logo had absolutely no obvious connection with reviewing design mock ups.
4. Is it personal?
If I am going to spend years devoting my time to a business I love, the name has to have some personal connection to me.
If it can help make a personal connection with you then that is the right business name.
Toddle came about from the idea of really simplifying email marketing down so anyone could use it. Break it down to baby steps or a toddle. That toddle or baby steps connected wonderfully with the main business name at the time Spoiltchild we knew it was a winner.
5. Is the .com available?
This is where it gets difficult. But perhaps it doesn’t have to? I can honestly say that when i followed the steps above, I came up with names that were so personal and unique to me no one else had any reason to come up with them. In all but one name, the .com was available. And these were the first names that I decided on before looking.
A few notes on what I didn’t do.
Try and squeeze SEO keywords into the url. I know this can have benefits in search but personally I do not like it for branding a business. I get lost in the myriad of similarly named businesses. BlueWidgets inc or RedWidgets LLC. I am sorry but I will not remember which of you I talked to last time and will have difficulty talking about you to others. I have used it for marketing campaigns and sites for example Beautiful Email Newsletters but you will notice as a brand people connect with BEN (Beautiful Email Newsletters) the curator of the site.
Also having a unique name makes it a thousand times easier to monitor twitter or google alerts for mentions of your business.
Choose a name and add “app” or “hq” on the end if the .com was not available. Again I think this is confusing to people and I am sure who ever has the .com is very grateful for all the visitors your marketing money is mistakenly sending them.
And I didn’t go out and survey a 100 people for market research on what they thought of the name. If I did I can guarantee 99 would have said that all the above were unsuitable names for a business.
In the years after launching I can only remember 1 person ever telling me they didn’t like a name, and they still did business with me.
The above image is from here and is free to use on your own website or email.