How to choose a breakout name for your business

How to choose a breakout name for your business

Nothing will be said more than your business name.

BY Louise Karch, 5 min READ

137,000 business start up every day. Are you naming yours?  Is your daughter? Sister? Or Mum?

With tens of thousands of brands competing for your attention, plus Coca Cola’s 2 billion dollar marketing budget, your name must break out not blend in.

When I renamed Dr. Bern Nichols and Annelies Hoogland’s educational consultancy from The Learning Labyrinth to EDUCAA, they doubled their income in a year. The right name is a strategic calling card that piques the interest of your ideal customers.

Nothing will be said more than your business name. To generate a great name answer these powerful questions:


Why are you starting your business? Janine Allis, the Melbourne-based, award-winning founder of Boost Juice, wanted people to have healthy, fast food choices.


Who do you serve best? Is your product for mums? Broker Melanie Smith of Queensland, named her successful business Mortgage Broker Mummy because she understands mothers’ financial needs. She’s a mum rocking a niche she loves because she understands mums.


When people hear your name, what do you want them to feel? Verity Tuck and Hannah Donnova, co-founded LVLY, a same day gift delivery service. They wanted more people to be happy because they were surprised by joyful flowers and gifts.


What are the quotes, songs, idioms or phrases associated with your business idea. Richard Branson didn’t know what he was doing. He was a ‘virgin’ in the industry. There might be a saying that is right for you. American Ashley Qualls started her business at 14. Now a millionaire, her site is massively popular with teens. She named her business after what teens say ‘whatever…life’. Her site is whateverlife.com.


What changes because of your brand? I named my book NAMEfluence because the right business name increases people’s influence and affluence. The change you make could be the name you are looking for.


Cut out photos and words from magazines or create a Pinterest page of images, phrases, symbols, anything that delights you. Look at your mood board and see what names come to mind. Have your friends and family look and see what names that generate. Names like Yahoo sound like a child came up with them. Yahoos were actually creatures in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, but having kids come up with ideas is a great idea because their creativity is so pure.


Keep all your naming ideas in one place. Having the names hang out together will spark more ideas.
Naming is a volume game. You need to generate many names to find the perfect one. But, avoid the naming trap. Don’t use the ‘like / don’t like’ framework to choose your name. Lots of people would have disliked Nike as a brand name but it works. Instead, use the framework of did this name capture attention?

Once you find a name that pops, make sure it is available as a domain, it can be registered as a business and trademark. Jorge Guzman and Scott Stern, two management professors at the world’s number one university, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, did a ground breaking study on why start ups in Silicon Valley succeed. One surprising finding was that enterprises that took the time to trademark their brand names, were five times more likely to grow than those that didn’t.

I know Business Chicks are a sophisticated group. We know that trademarking doesn’t make you successful. But, it does show thought that smart businesses use best practices. Trademarking is a best practice.

You might have not have fancy coffees for a month to pay for a trademark lawyer but it’s worth it. Have fun with your naming and once you have it, have a party to celebrate. It’s important to create memories on the journey to startup success.

Louise Karch is an International Speaker and Accredited Master Coach and author of NAMEfluence: How to Name Your Business for Success. 

Image: iStock


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