How to Name Your Business (My No-Fail 3-Step Formula)

name your businessThis time you’re determined, dammit.

You grab your coffee. You sit down.  And you think the same thought that’s been plaguing you for weeks now…

“Okay, time to name my business. Let’s do this.”

And then?

Then, all the RULES rush through your head…

You know the ones…

Your business name has to be unique. Totally different.

Your business name must be clever. But not TOO clever that no one understands it.

And holy hell, it can’t be boring either.

Plus, your exact business name has to be readily available as a domain name. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Barely a minute has passed, and you’re already losing steam.

Enter your fairy business coach. [Insert tinkly theme music and muted glowy light.]

Okay, so we have a problem here. (Besides the tinkly theme music.)

That problem is this:

You’re all up in your head!   And you haven’t even begun the process!

See, some things in your business are rote and mental.  Like, entering numbers into a spreadsheet, profit and loss, mapping out your call-back schedule.

So, it’s tempting to think that EVERYTHING in your business should follow suit.

But when you name your business?

Naming your business is a creative process.

(And by the way, so is naming anything, writing anything, and getting any ideas.)

And as with any creative process, you can’t slap down a set of rules and force it out of your brain. You just can’t.

You have to ALLOW it. Ideas arise. They don’t “get thought.”

In fact, in spite of the title of this article, there IS no three-step tried-and-true formula for coming up with the perfect business name that will always be the right business name.


 Click to Tweet:

As with any creative process, you can’t slap down a set of rules and force it out of your brain.


But since everyone wants steps, here are three. These work every time. But not always in a linear way…

1  –  Give yourself PERMISSION

Permission to not have a clue what your business should be called right now.

Permission to do this badly.

Permission to continue living with the lame name you came up with a few years ago when you were on the treadmill.

Permission to let this evolve.

So, maybe you already have a name, but no one pronounces it right. Or maybe your name turned out to be the name of another business in your industry.  Okay, fine. We all have things in our businesses that need changing. Why rush now?

The problem with rushing is that you will end up with a name you hate because you forced something to happen that wasn’t yet ready to arrive.

2  –  Get your business PHILOSOPHY

Here’s an assignment.

Take your whole reason for having a business, for doing what you do and how you do it – and break it down into five core business philosophies.  Basically the WHY of what you do.  These don’t have to be perfect. Don’t go for poetry. And don’t try to make a sign that you will someday post in the bathroom stalls at your corporate headquarters.

Write as if you were just talking. Or just speak into iTalk on your phone.

Pretend I sat down in front of you and said, “Okay, tell me five things you believe that made you create the business you have. Just talk to me.”

This doesn’t have to get completed in one session. Spend some time with this.

How to Name Your Business

3  –  Go on and PLAY with your business name

I know. I know. This is business. I’m supposed to be all “Argh! Be serious!”

But no. I want you to play.

Read through your five business philosophies. See what words keep repeating.

Go through your days, lightly holding on to the ideas you’ve come up with so far.

Ask your friends their opinions.

Keep a running list. And make sure you include the “bad” ideas on there.  Often, our bad ideas lead us to the best ideas.  Just play with business names.

You don’t have to be in a rush. If it takes a few weeks longer than you thought, big deal. Stop overthinking all of that mental BS and start playing with this.  You’ll be surprised at the ideas that arise when you’re making dinner, or walking your dog, or driving to meet your sister for breakfast.

And yes, if you want to satisfy your inner lover of spreadsheets, there are then ways of testing your name to see if it’s clickable and track how people respond using heat maps and SEO know-how.

But consider this:

Apple didn’t do this. Neither did Virgin. Neither did The Gap.  Neither did Tiffany, Nike or McDonalds.

And they all seem to be pretty okay about that.

We’re not looking for: “What will make them line up in droves?”  We’re looking for what clicks inside of you. Something that feels “right.”  That’s the first sign it’s a good name.

No matter what name you choose, there’s no guarantee it’ll be a name that will make your business soar.

That part is up to how you RUN and make your business scalable.

CONFESSION: This article was written in response to an actual question I received from one of my Uplevel Your Business students.  I’d LOVE for you to help him, too!  In the comments, share with us your business name – and whether or not it “clicks” for you – and if so, how you came up with it!

 

 

 

 

Want to make money in your business and still be totally authentic?

Download my FREE TRAINING, and learn the secrets of my very own Uplevel Fast Track Formula for making money… on your own terms and in your own way.

Comments

  1. says

    Hello,

    Great article. I was looking for a name and playing with many things. Then one day I realized how many of my subjects ask me to “Please Hypnotize Me!”. They do it when they want it, they do it when they see me hypnotize others and they do it when it’s over, as in “Please Hypnotize Me Again”.

    Then it just totally made sense. Now I won’t hypnotize anyone unless they ask, using those words!

    I just got the domain and only have a placeholder up for now, but am working hard at getting my products completed, etc…

    This is the first public place I have put the name.

    All the best.

    Markus

  2. Rachel Claret says

    I came up with the word ORGANIZEN almost two years before I finally decided to use it. (dismissed it the first time around).

  3. Julie Ray says

    As usual, your articles are so timely … it’s like you’re inside my head :)

    I have been struggling with finding a name for my website for weeks, and today when I opened your email and saw “How To Name Your Business” I had to laugh out loud. Thank you for the guidance and suggestions, I will give myself permission to continue playing with names … and I’ll work on my five core philosophies. An added note: until today, I have been reading your articles and blogs and getting a huge amount of inspiration from them, despite the fact that I kept thinking “but I don’t have a business.” I’ve always considered myself deficient in business, not cut out to be a business woman, so therefore my dream of a website for women couldn’t be considered a “business.” Today is the first day I’ve identified with that term and realized I need to embrace it. Thank you Christine for empowering me today!

  4. Krista says

    Timing is everything! Did you watch “Silicon Valley” on HBO last week? It was all about the founder fervently defending the name of his business “Pied Piper” because it’s a Fairey tale and everyone else telling him very rudely it’s a horrible name. There’s even a VisionQuest involved to find the perfect business name!

  5. says

    Super post! I actually changed my studio/business name this year. I’m so drawn to light. I paint it and it is a spiritual concept to me. I, also, have a thing for all things italian. I originally was going to call my studio Bella Vita Studio which means “A Beautiful Life” in Italian and Vita is my mother’s name. I ultimately went with La Bella Luce Studio which means Beautiful Light.

  6. says

    My business name is Bring the Farm to You – and I LOVE IT! It came out of an email I sent to a stranger in another state who did something similar to what I wanted to do. I asked her how she got started and remarkably she wrote back. In our conversation she clarified what she was hearing from me and said it sounded like I wanted to bring the farm to people, so how about Bring the Farm to You. Genius! It took an outsider to see what I couldn’t because I was too close. The name is simple – says exactly what I do – and I love that it has a call to action right in the name! It turned into a beautiful logo of a traveling barn that now adorns my trailer. And I love that I can also metaphorically Bring the Farm to You through my eZine or other value I put online. It’s inspired me so much (and my business has grown so well) that I’m now working on a name for the module-type program I’m creating to teach others how to build their own outreach education business! So this article came at a great time! Thanks for the continued inspiration Christine!

  7. says

    I am struggling with this too, trying to come up with a new name for a different aspect of my business. It’s hard enough coming up with a name that represents and isn’t cheesy but then when you think you have it, the domain isn’t available! This article helped me rethink some possibilities. Back to the drawing board

  8. says

    I went through many months of playing with my business name….making lists of how I would describe my biz, what one word could bring together yoga, food and art…and one day I came up with Wholesome Soul—yoga inspired food and art. Just last week I was thinking of changing the tag line…so now sitting with that…

    It is definitely an evolving process!

  9. says

    Thank you for this Christine! I’m wondering what your thoughts are on using your personal name for your business? That’s what I ended up doing back in 2008 when I started up my practice. I “defaulted” to my own name when all the other “good” names I could think of were taken. It turned out to be a very good choice for me, because as we all know, being in business (just like being a parent) is a way to super-charge your own healing journey. So much has happened for me internally that my whole idea of entrepreneurship, and myself as a healer/practitioner has changed very drastically, yet through all of those evolutions, there was no need for me to continue changing my business name/domain name to keep up.

    • says

      Cora – (And Wendy) I think it’s fine to do this. My experience of having been a performer and songwriter is that I couldn’t let go of my own name and just one day STOP being me – as all of my work/blog/list had been grown on my name. So, when Uplevel YOU was created, I’ve just been slowly moving toward that being more and more the focus. Still, I’m not in a rush. I think it’s fine to use your name. But I do think it could cause some unique challenges if you ever want to scale your business in any meaningful way. Does that help?

  10. says

    I wanted to start a blog – something to help others gain insights to themselves by sharing some of my insights.

    I played around with a lot of words – just sat and wrote down all the words I could think of that described what I wanted to do or just felt right. After about a week or so I had about three good contenders (I don’t remember the others), but One Insight Closer was what really stuck out.

    About 6 months later I was creating a business and the name just fit perfectly. Even with a change in my business focus later – the name still fits.

    One Insight Closer just fits me and my business as things evolve.

  11. says

    Love the article – and I did almost the same thing….

    I can up with Virtual Partner for my business as I am YOUR partner with your online business … a blend of Techie and People … perfect fit for my clients and my life! I was able to combine my technology skills with my life coaching … so now my clients get much much more ….

    Virtual Partner … Co-creating Your Business Dreams
    Creative :: Purposeful :: Innovative

  12. Lisa says

    I have been trying for months now to come up with a name for my women’s t-shirt line. I have names in my head that I like but because they sound cute and/or catchy but I get stuck on choosing anything when I hear people say that your business name should say what you DO. Argh!!

    • Randi says

      Lisa,

      Did you ever come up with a name? If not, I’d love to find out more about your business concept, so I may offer some suggestions.

      Best wishes-Randi

  13. says

    This is just what I needed, Christine! Thanks! I’m in the process of revamping my business focus, web site, packages, etc., and I keep getting stuck on the name. What I have “sorta worked” for what I was doing, but I picked it in a rush. I’ll slow down this time and play with it a bit more. THANKS!

  14. says

    I went the lame way and chose my name. My German business name is “EFT Praxis Frauke Möbius”, but I came up with a cute url for that – http://www.klopfen-in-kiel.de which is a nice alliteration for the German word for tapping, plus the town where I live. I constantly come up in second or third place on google when people look for EFT and Kiel. First place is a plumbing company that is called EFT for some reason. ( I could call trademark on them, because I know the holder of the EFT trademark for Germany, but I don’t really want to.)

    Since I am not allowed to do therapy long distance, I called my English site simply Moebius Coaching. (I do have a great Moebius Loop banner on that website.) Then my focus changed to combine my two huge passions in life, and I created Writers’ Dream Coach, which is also the name of the website. I’ll see where that takes me.

  15. says

    Very timely for me, too! This is what the question I emailed you for last week’s question was about… and what I’m waiting in queue on today’s phone call for!

    People already find me through my name for my artwork (or if they like my artwork, and want to take classes for me), and they find me through http://www.NapaValleyArtWorkshops.com for my art workshops – and that reaches people who are coming to the area and want to make art. For my online art teaching, I’m debating about LineColorPaintJoy – it was the title of a blog I kept for several years, and I have the domain name. And I love it – it encapsulates what I do.

    But am I nuts for having three separate domains and websites? It seems to me that it is the best way to go – though it may be a bit to manage…. I hope to talk to you on the phone today, Christine!

  16. says

    I played around with lots of names before settling on The Knitting Diva. Most of the others fell into that “too clever” category and I was afraid no one would get it. Not everyone was on-board with the name but it has turned out to be a good choice. It resonates with how I want my customers to feel when they are in the shop; like they are someone special and they are all my divas! I was bummed that theknittingdiva.com was taken, but it’s not a long stretch to divasknitting.com. Now I’m on the search again for a business name for coffee shop I want to open because we really need one in the community where the shop is located! I’m open to hearing any suggestions!

  17. says

    Thank you so much for you advice on the phone call, Christine!

    (By the way, my Chow/Australian Cattledog cross is a Zoe, too – Zoe the Adorable. Your Zoe looks pretty adorable, too.)

    Appreciatively,
    Karen Lynn

  18. says

    My company is all about female empowerment and women-lead adventures, and it’s called B.A.B.S Base Camp, with a subsidiary called B.A.B.S Firearms Training “For Women, By Women”. Here was my process:
    1. I hate to say this, but I had to do a “porn check” to make sure the name I wanted to use (mostly the “BABS” part) did not bring up undesirable content during an internet search. I would recommend this to anyone, as names that seem totally innocuous can actually end up being surprisingly problematic in this regard.

    2. I know that some experts advise against any acronym in a business name, but the “B.A.B.S” part has actually been a great way to attract interest and a sense of inclusion for our clients. People ask all the time what B.A.B.S stands for, and we always say with a smile that they have to go on an adventure with us to find out. People actually respond very well to that, and we ask clients at the beginning of their session with us what they think B.A.B.S stands for, and it ends up being a funny, perfect ice breaker for our group classes. Then, once they know what it stands for, they have a sense of being “in the posse” or the “tribe”etc, you get the idea…

    3. I chose “Base Camp” because my business is in the Pacific NorthWest, and it fits perfectly with the local culture and lifestyle of my ideal client: active, fit, outdoorsy, adventurous women. Base Camp also implies a starting point for a diverse variety of adventures (can you say multi-adventure training packages?) and allowed for expansion into “B.A.B.S Base Camp – Women’s Adventure Center”. The Base Camp name also allows me to provide multiple diverse services under the same name and marketing concept, as I have done with B.A.B.S Firearms Training.

    4. I felt that B.A.B.S Base Camp would lend itself well to marketing images, logos and visuals using popular local areas (like our B.A.B.S badass woman standing atop Oregon’s famous icon Mount Hood) and that colloquial terminology popular with my ideal client base could easily be incorporated into the narrative voice of all written marketing media.

    5. I did a “friend check” and asked trusted friends their opinion by revealing the company name and logo on a pice of paper and watching their genuine immediate reaction – you can tell if someone truly likes the idea instantly, or if they are scrambling to figure out a way to let you down easy when they don’t like it.

  19. says

    The name of my business is WayMaker Virtual Assistant and I really dig it right now. I *love* supporting women business owners by making a way for them to have more time to do what they love! I enjoy taking care of those things like blogs, scheduling, emails, and other administrative tasks which liberate my clients in the process so “WayMaker” just fits!

  20. Valri says

    This is so timely – and you must be feeling my gut wrenching as I sit down ONE MORE TIME to decide on a biz name. How to decide whether to use my own name or create a nice biz name with a ring to it. Or both? Or is it your products and services that have the nice-name-with-a-ring-to-it? I had a business name that I loved and my husband hates it. I picked a name that he liked and I hated it. Same is true of running the names past friends. What resonates with one doesn’t seem to excite the other. I have been told to use what-you-do in your business name, mostly for SEO purposes, but Apple, Nike, The Gap, et al doesn’t say a blasted thing about what they do. Granted they have multi-million dollar ad budgets and time under their belt. So I ask myself, what do I look for in a name of a business like mine? A bad name is a turn-off for sure (as a coach and healer, all the suggestions I get from friends and family sound like retirement home names to me), but if attached to a great web site and fab services – I’m all for exploring that business and services. A great name makes me say to myself “wish I’d thought of THAT one” and I’m sticking around to explore; an interesting name that has GOT to have a story behind it makes me explore the site to see what the story is; a business using that person’s name helps me remember THAT person and yes, explore the site for more info. And yet I’m still stuck on PICKING something that is JUST RIGHT. Aaaarrrggh. I give myself to the end of the week and just pick one, damn it!

    • says

      Valri – It seems that you are WAY up in your head. The problem as i see it is that you are comparing, asking opinions, looking outward… and you need to get quiet enough inside to be able to trust your creative mojo as the owner of your business. Take a deep breath and give yourself space to do this. :)

  21. says

    It IS a process. I went from Marcy Heim Consulting – now THAT’S inspiring….
    to The Artful Asker – and now I am considering the slightest of changes to Artful Asking. Christine – I would give anything to be with you in June – still speaking like crazy – just what I want! Thank you!

  22. says

    I decided to make my business name, domain and web site all the same: HSEResource.com. I already bought the domain and built a simple web site (don’t judge- it’s going to be completely revamped after I finish my modules :) The only problem was the period in the name would not be accepted by some tax registration web sites. I just left the period out and it has not caused any tax or filing problems.
    I have since come up with a better name that is more specific to what I do- but I don’t have to change the business name- just file with the tax office as a “doing business as” my new name- HSEMaritime.com. The HSE stands for Health, Safety and Environmental. To those in my field, this is simple and easy to remember.

  23. says

    Back when I did freelance graphic design, I played off of my last name: “Berry Good Design”. I used a big blueberry for the icon. It’s not all that original, in hindsight.

    Though I have been on hiatus from yarn dyeing for a bit, I still have my Etsy shop with plans to restock over the summer. I kept referring to my artistic fibery efforts as my “yarn endeavors”, so when it came time to name the yarn line and/or business, I merged the two words and came up with:

    Yarndeavors

    Yep, domain name and everything.

  24. says

    One last thing. I’ve also heard what I considered to be the worst business name, especially when the client wanted to secure the domain name exactly as written. It no longer exists, so it’s safe to post here. It was:

    “It’s Your Home-Based Business” (itsyourhomebasedbusiness.com)

    Awful, right? No matter how hard I tried, I could not convince the client to shorten or change it.

  25. says

    I love this article as well! I found it helpful to journal about what I wanted to offer and what kind of feel I wanted to give to my (future) clients. It was a great way to sort through words and phrases that I matched what was going on in my head. In the end I came up with “Your Wellness Coach” for my health coaching services and have had a lot of great feedback from people. www-your-wellness-coach.com.

  26. says

    A couple of week’s ago, I had the same issue about naming my business (home care for older people). Wow, every name that I thought was brilliant, someone already had! For SEO purposes I needed “home care” in the title. It was my daughter (and future business partner) who came up with the name. It represents everything about who I am and what I stand for. I was so inspired by the new name of my business, I started a blog about setting up the business! http://everycloudhasasilverliningblog.com/

  27. Kate Ostrem says

    I am starting an Enneagram coaching business (loved hearing about how you and Jennifer Lee are both 4s, Christine, at last week’s Right Brainers’ Video Summit!) and had been so preoccupied with having a name. I sat down for focused brainstorm sessions, made notes all the time, paid attention to words, etc. When I finally came up with something I liked, there weren’t any domain name options available. Then my mom’s best friend shared her idea: Nine Open Doors. It hit me right in the heart as absolutely perfect! I hardly had to think about it. It just felt right – and was much better than what I had originally come up with. And the domain name was available (website in the works!). Now that I have the name, I’m amazed at how it’s inspired me to take additional steps to creating my business.

  28. says

    I love my business name and it fits me perfectly! I love being the person in the shadows helping you organize the chaos so you can focus on growing your business. Kinda a behind the scenes “secret weapon.” I truly think I watched too many secret agent movies as a child! :) Carolyn @UrSecretWeapon

  29. says

    When I started my voice-over and narration business, I had a hard time coming up with a good business name. I thought that since I wanted to do a little of everything in the VO business, and that I was versatile, I could use the name “Kaleidoscope Vocals” (not even sure I’m spelling it right!) but my voice-over coach didn’t like it, and I was a bit crushed, especially since I’d already had a logo and business cards made!

    But, my voice-over coach encouraged me to try using something in my name, the “GOLD” part of my last name, in my business name. I resisted, since I’m not one to be into precious metals in general, despite my name. I kept trying and trying to think, but came up with nothing. Then one day, my husband, who I don’t consider to be a “creative” sort of person, usually, came up with “GOLDIVOX” – as in, Golden Voice! It has that Goldilocks connection, too, so it sounds kinda cute and evokes warmth and youth and fun. Immediately, I knew it was the right choice for a business name! It was perfect. And my voice-over coach knew right away, too, when I told her – she came up with the tag line, “Just right”, you know, like GOLDILOCKS? So, I went with it.

    I’ve been thrilled with the name ever since! Honestly, people to this day still ask about it, after saying, “That is a great name! Who came up with that?” And I have to tell them my hubby did! I always give him the credit. So, sometimes when you’re playing around with names, allow others to be creative with you, and you might come up with something great. :)

    An aside: I did eventually find someone had “stolen” a version of my name, because I only purchased the domain with the spelling GOLDIVOX. Another voice-over person started using “GOLDIEVOX” and I had to deal with that legally. I now own that spelling, and also “GOLDYVOX”, so, if one should misspell it when typing it in to their browser, my site should still come up! Whew!

    Thanks, Christine! See you in a couple of weeks in Atlanta!

  30. says

    I remember being on a call 2 years ago and saying to you, “I got it! Handknit Marketing! It’s all about weaving it together.” And you said (something along these lines but more politely), “That’s total crap! You can do better without being so literal. It doesn’t capture the essence. Take off the pressure to find the perfect name right now.” I did. I immediately called to cancel the domain name and got grounded. Then I hit on “Simplify Your Marketing” and it really expresses what I do as a marketing strategist. I help entrepreneurs figure out what marketing works best for them so that they can spend less time hunting for clients and more time serving them. Your business name has to resonate at your core… and, while I don’t often recommend it, you can change it at a later date without the world ending. Thanks for the solid advice.

  31. says

    Great article. My name is super common, so I couldn’t use that as my website name. So, like you mentioned in the article, I took time to mull the name over and figure out the best name for my business.

    It took a while, but I came up with Teach Good Stuff. And, that’s what I’m all about — helping people teach good stuff.

    I used to be a teacher — and one of my students stood up in the middle of the classroom and shouted, “Ms. Kennedy, you teach us some good stuff.” And, that’s how I came up with my name. It really conveys the essence of what I want to do — help people design the best content courses and ebooks!

  32. says

    This was a great post. It actually helped me to see that my current business name is great. I know I need to make a LOT of adjustments in my website appearance and feel, as well as the “HOW” in offering from my “WHY.” (if that makes sense).

    Anyway, my business name came to me through conversation and listening. I have a very strong connection with what I see to be the beautiful feminine energy rising today to meet and work with the masculine energy so prevalent. I see it as a very necessary element in bringing forth a new experience/culture/vision/future for the world and humanity. I have found the name “Sophia,” which is Greek for Wisdom, to a name that I connect with to represent this rising feminine…so, Sophia Rising became the name, and the tagline became “Preparing the New Paradigm.”

    I was feeling unsure about it, but I think it’s intriguing. I just need to do some work to adjust my materials to draw people in without going too deep too soon. I have tended to write long articles, and focus on courses and coaching going very deep spiritually. This is great for some, but what I see more and more is that for a new paradigm to emerge, these ideas need to reach more people in a simpler way. I’m shifting things to focus on every day practical ways to connect to Sophia and this beautiful feminine energy that wants to meet us!

    Thanks Christine for your inspiration and helping me to see I’m not so far off course after all.

  33. says

    Wow! What a timely article! I’ve enjoyed reading what others have done to come up with their business names! I have hated my business name for the past 4 years! It was just meant to be a temporary name, a placeholder so that my partner and I could get things started. We spent months and months making lists and checking them against domain availability before we finally just created a sub-domain on my existing craft business that I started with another friend. We called the original business “Crafty Neighbor” because we were making and selling craft items and my partner and I happened to be next-door neighbors. It worked well for what we were doing. Then in 2011, I decided to partner with another friend to open a travel agency. The original purpose was so that we could book crafting cruises without having to use a middle-man. We had been doing them for years, but the travel agents we worked with made us do all the work and they kept all the commissions. After we got started, we realized we could be so much more than just a cruise organizer for scrapbooking events, so we started booking other travel, too. Now the craft cruises are just one small sliver of my business, but I’m still stuck with the name. Not only is it no longer relevant (except that I send out handmade Thank You cards to my clients), but the domain name is too long and confusing, it’s the devil to get people to spell it right over the phone, and it just doesn’t make sense. It is also very irksome that people confuse the two businesses or assume that they are one and the same. I haven’t done anything to change it because it’s just a waste of time that I could use doing other things, and nothing that I have come up with resonates with me. Some day, I think it will, but I’m waiting for the right name to find me, not the other way around. 😉

Trackbacks

  1. […] Take your whole reason for having a business, for doing what you do and how you do it – and break it down into five core business philosophies.  Basically the WHY of what you do.  These don’t have to be perfect. Don’t go for poetry. And don’t try to make a sign that you will someday post in the bathroom stalls at your corporate headquarters. Continue reading […]

  2. […] Take your whole reason for having a business, for doing what you do and how you do it – and break it down into five core business philosophies.  Basically the WHY of what you do.  These don’t have to be perfect. Don’t go for poetry. And don’t try to make a sign that you will someday post in the bathroom stalls at your corporate headquarters. Continue reading […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *