Choosing a business name

One of the questions I'm often asked by people setting up new businesses is 'how do we choose a name?'.

Naming your business can feel like a challenge because it's a long-term commitment. You can change your website, colours and logo during the life of your business without too much hassle (although I don't recommend doing so too often), but changing its name would be a huge decision. So there's a pressure to get it right from the start.

Key questions to ask

There are actually lots of ways to come up with a name, and none are right or wrong. But there are a few key things to consider when making the decision:

- Is it memorable?
- What emotional responses or images does it conjure up?
- Will it look good in type?
- Is it meaningful to a broad range of people or just to you? It can be tempting to use something personal as your inspiration, but make sure the meaning won't be lost on your audience.
- Is it clear and easy to pronounce? A great name loses effectiveness if people struggle to say it.
- Is the www domain name available? 

choosing a business name

A helpful process

A process that I recommend when trying to find a brilliant business name is to do some relaxed, creative thinking. You can do this alone, or with someone who knows your business idea well, and bounce suggestions around together. Take a piece of paper and write down the first words that come to mind about your company. These could be words around what you do, how you do it, what your client experience feels like or what personality traits you bring to the business. Keep writing until you get 30 or more words.

Then you can start to free-associate and write more words and phrases that come to mind, in a sort of spider-diagram spinning off from your list. Don’t edit, just write whatever comes up.

When you feel like you’ve hit the end, sit back and see which words jump out at you. Would a word or phrase make a good name by itself, or in combination with another? 

It's actually a really great exercise to do at the start of the brand journey anyway, as it helps clarify some key words around your business and how it might look and feel.

Why Aligned Design Co.?

I used the above exercise to explore ideas when I was selecting a name for my own business. I spent an afternoon thinking and word-associating and ended up with a good A4 sheet covered in words and scribbles. But nothing was quite hitting the mark, so I decided to take a break and went for a swim at my local pool. As I was about to get into the water I had a thought about why I had started as a freelance designer in the first place - because of my belief that when your head, heart and passion are aligned then a business is ready to succeed, and my role within that is to create the brand that lets it shine. And the word 'aligned' is also a design term. I knew instantly I had it - Aligned Design Co.

Test and repeat

Once you have come up with a good name or a few different ideas, test them on other people. You don't have to agree with every piece of feedback you get, but it's great to get a broad picture of how your name lands with potential customers. It's definitely worth putting the time and thought into the best name you can possibly come up with, so it not only works for your business in the immediate future but will also proudly speak for it in years to come.

Nancy PollerComment