One of the most basic things that you will need to do when starting a business is create a company name. But it can be one of the hardest. Where do you even start?

Should I go abstract and build my company image later? Should I create a company name that’s informative? Maybe evocative so my customers get curious?

These questions have been asked by many an entrepreneur.

Your company name carries a lot of weight, and should clearly reflect what’s behind it. If you are having trouble thinking of a fitting name, it can set you back considerably. You don’t want to rush this process, though. Having the wrong name can be devastating to your future success.

Here are some questions to get the creative juices flowing. They will guide you and help you manage the creative process of this exciting journey.

What am I trying to accomplish?

To create a company name, you need to focus on who you are. Think about what prompted you to start the company. What is at its core? Start with the first word that comes to mind and write it down. This will help you discover and later solidify the image that you want to present.

As more ideas come, put them into a tree diagram. This decision tree will help you stay focused and organize your thoughts as you move along. Make sure to leave a lot of space between your key ideas so you can group related ones together.

What value do I bring to my target market?

Your company name should communicate value to your audience right off the bat. Capture potential customers before they have transacted with you. They should already have a sense of what your company will bring to them as soon as they see your name.

As you go through this, think about your uniqueness as a company and grab a few ideas off of that. Your edge should guide you to define your name more clearly.

What expert product or service range do I offer?

While you create a company name that communicates value, you should also think about your expertise. A solely value-based name can sound presumptuous if it’s not backed up by competence.

Enjoying the content so far? I'd love for you to join my email list...

I only send weekly, inspiring emails every Monday. I teach best practices I'm learning and using to build FreeeUp, Portlight, and this site. 

What name type best fits my brand?

Your name can be descriptive, creative, classical, and so much more. This site lists a number of brand name types that can inspire you as you think of your company name. Abbreviations and acronyms will not work for a startup name, but it’s good to keep this in mind. It can help you create an awesome brand name as your company gains traction.

Create a company name.

As mentioned above, it can be difficult to create a company name that really hits the nail on the head. The process will not always result in a name that creates major buzz.

When Connor was building his first business with his partner, Nathan, they spent days trying to create a company name. They went through several brainstorming activities to find the perfect one. They finally settled on Portlight. The name actually comes from a street in the area where they set up one of their first offices. Not much meaning about the actual business there. But this name held great meaning for them as they were founding their first business. Portlight was the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.

Their second joint venture, FreeeUp, is a different story. When they decided to build FreeeUp, they were both driven by a very specific need. Connor and Nathan had suffered through horrible hiring experiences that ate up valuable time. This led to wasting other resources, and they wanted to develop a better system. This was a very clear value point to use as a springboard for discussion. The whole point of FreeeUp was to help eCommerce business owners like themselves free up their time. The third “E” stands for eCommerce, which requires some explanation. But the essence is right there in your face when you read and hear the word. That’s impact.

A word of caution

There are a lot of considerations, but don’t try to pack in too much. The name you settle on will have a greater impact if it’s memorable. Keep it short and craft it so it rolls off your tongue.

Be careful when using foreign words or made-up ones. You want to show your uniqueness, but make sure that poor comprehension will not get in the way of its impact. Choose words that are commonly understood or that have a familiar ring to them. To guide you, ask friends and business partners to tell you what they think of when they hear the word.

Check for conflicts and protect your name.

Don’t forget to check your name against existing businesses. Do an initial internet search to find out what other companies, if any, are using a similar name. Be sure you check domain names as well so you can secure a domain that fits your business name perfectly.

If you decide on a name that is similar to another business, your customers could get confused. If the name is being used by another business that sells the same products as you do, you won’t be able to get a trademark.

That said, the next step is to check your name with the patent office. They will make sure that the name does not conflict with any other business in a similar field. Once your name is approved, you can get your trademark to protect your name. This is a very important step as it will prevent others from riding on your future fame. If you plan to sell on Amazon, you will need this to sign up for the Brand Registry to guard your store against counterfeiters.

Still having trouble?

You may have gone through all the steps above and still can’t seem to create a company name that you’re happy with. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your team or others close to you for help. You can even hire professional consultants to create a company name for you. Your name plays such a vital role in the potential success of your business. The investment will be worth it.