How to come up with a good business name?

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Coming up with a good business name is one of the highest leveraged marketing activities you can do.

Get your business name right from, and a lot of marketing is automatically built into your business success. Get your business name wrong (dull name, confusing name, etc.) and it’ll hurt your marketing efforts and make it hard for potential customers to understand what you do and why they should hire you.

Before we get into some cool business name “hacks” using the phonological loop and other psychological tricks, let’s discuss the obvious business name tips.

A good business name is:

  • easy to spell
  • easy to remember
  • easy to pronounce
  • is not ambiguous or confusing
  • is not too long (2-3 words is ideal)
  • explains the benefit
  • feels trustworthy
  • sounds credible
  • is available as a domain name (ideally “.com”)

Okay, with the obvious out of the way, let’s look at some more advanced business naming techniques.

Alliteration

If you can use alliteration in your business name, it’ll make it easier for people to remember your company.

Alliteration is when a series of words all start with the same letter or when the same sounds are repeated close together.

Here’s a few examples:

  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Double Your Dating
  • Armor All
  • Bed, Bath & Beyond
  • American Apparel
  • Gold’s Gym
  • Lulu Lemon
  • Weight Watchers
  • Black Berry
  • Banana Boat
  • I Love Lucy
  • SpongeBob SquarePants
  • Pittsburgh Penguins

Notice how all these names are “sticky”? The use of alliteration triggers a little known part of our memory called the phonological loop. The phonological loop is the part of working memory that deals with spoken and written material.

It can be used to remember a phone number, a name, a city, or anything for that matter.

It consists of two parts:

  1. Phonological Store (inner ear): This is linked to our perception of speech. It holds information in speech-based form (i.e. spoken words) for about 1-2 seconds.
  2. Articulatory control process (inner voice): This is linked to the production of speech and is used to rehearse and store verbal information in our brain.

If you can make use of alliteration in your business name, you’ll be leveraging the phonological loop, and making it easier for people to remember your business name.

Rhyme

If you can make your business name rhyme, this will also trigger the phonological loop.

Furthermore, Dr. Matthew McGlone, professor of psychology, has found that rhyming not only make a phrase more memorable, but is also makes it more believable.

Here are a few examples:

  • Piggly Wiggly
  • Stub Hub
  • Sky High Sports
  • The Green BeanSmart Start Services
  • Tech Deck Inspections
  • Coca Cola (alliteration and it rhymes!)
  • Lean Cuisine
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • YouTube
  • Blinds of All Kinds
  • Ronald McDonald

Here’s a cool website to help you find words that rhyme:
http://www.rhymezone.com/

How to brainstorm business names?

For this process, paper and pen works fine, or you can use your computer.

What you first want to do is get your brain flowing and your creativity warmed up.

Before jotting down a bunch of business name ideas, it’s a good idea to write down characteristics of your company and your brand.

For example, if you’re selling organic yogurt, you could write down: earth, healthy, cows, friendly, green pastures, friendly farmer, sustainable, farm to table, wood, trees, sunshine, etc. Thinking of your brand’s values before writing down business name ideas will help “prime” your mind.

Then begin listing out as many business names as you can think of.

Don’t edit.

Don’t look over them.

Just write, and write fast!

Get as many business names on the page as you can.

Once you finish “round 1”, go back to the top of your list and read through them. Often times doing this will help you discover additionally variations of business names.

Then set your list aside for a few hours and do something else, ideally non “brain-related”. Something like going for a walk, picking up groceries, or cleaning the kitchen.

Then revisit the list later in the day and see if you can add some more business names.

Then sleep on it and let your subconscious mind go to work.

On the following day, see if you can grow your list and come up with additional business names.

Once finished with “round 2”, read your entire list out loud and then put it away for 24 hours, letting the business names “simmer” for a bit longer.

If needed, sleep on your ideas for a another night or two.

(Researchers have found “sleeping on ideas” for a few nights leads to more clarity.)

After all the simmering and sleeping, your best business name will usually just “rise off the page” and present itself.

The final step is to trust your gut. Which business name feels the best to you?

Once you’ve found a business name that you like, it’s a good idea to make sure the domain name is available, ideally one ending in “.com”, as it’ll be the easiest for people to remember.

Finding a domain name for your business

I recommend using the free domain tool called Lean Domain Search. You’ll use this tool for research, but you’ll end up buying your domain name somewhere else (recommendation below).

Not only will this help you find domain names that are available, but it’ll also show you domain names which are catchy and easy to remember.

Note: Your domain name doesn’t need to match the full legal name of your business. For example, if you formed an LLC called “Fresh Apple Delivery LLC”, your website doesn’t have to be your full LLC name, like “www.freshappledeliveryllc.com”. In fact, if you’re forming an LLC for your business, we recommend not putting “llc” in the domain name.

Additionally, “www.freshappledelivery.com” would be a great domain name; but “www.freshapples.com” or “www.appledelivery.com” could also work.

I think you get the point.

To use Lean Domain Search, you’ll enter a key phrase from your business, such as “Fitness”, “Landscaping”, “Investments”, etc., and then click search.

(By the way, you can search using one word or multiple words.)

Then the tool will generate dozens and dozens of really great domain names.

Once you find a good domain name for your business, I recommend:

1. Buy your domain name through NameSilo.com ($10 per year). The reason we recommend NameSilo is that they automatically include domain privacy for free (unlike GoDaddy). This will keep your name, address, and phone number off domain name records and avoid spam phone calls.

2. Buy website hosting from SiteGround.com, which will cost $15 per month. They have a 1-click install for WordPress, which is a free tool that makes building a website easy. If you have questions, give them a call. Their customer support is amazing!

Social Media Name Checkers

In order to build a cohesive online presence for your business, it’s a good idea to have your domain name and/or your business name match your social media URLs.

For example, if your company name is Joe’s Fruit Stand LLC, and you already own the domain name www.joesfruitstand.com, you’ll likely want matching social media links:

  • facebook.com/joesfruitstand
  • twitter.com/joesfruitstand
  • youtube.com/joesfruitstand
  • instagram.com/joesfruitstand

Two great tools we recommend for checking social media URLS are:
NameChk.com
CheckUsernames.com

Business name overwhelm

If your brain is beginning to spin and you feel a bit overwhelmed, it’s totally normal. Coming up with a business name (a good one) requires some serious brain juice.

Go easy on yourself and give yourself time. Far too many people rush the business naming process.

It can take a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months.

For example, it took me 4 months to come up with LLC University®.

But once you find a good name for your business, it’ll make everything else easier.

Business name takeaways

Remember, your business name is one of the highest leveraged marketing activities you can do.

If you spend time thinking of a good business name, it’ll help potential customers know what you do and why they should hire you.

Matt Horwitz on LinkedinMatt Horwitz on TwitterMatt Horwitz on Youtube
Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator at LLC University
Forming an LLC shouldn't be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! We teach people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your entrepreneurial journey.
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