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Pro Advice

Five Tips for Giving Your Company a Great Name

Last week, Internet Marketing Course Directors Carol Cox and Diane Diaz hosted a webinar with Alexandra Watkins of San Francisco naming firm Eat My Words. Alexandra, who is the author of the book Hello, My Name is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick, is a naming consultant with more than a decade of experience helping people brand their companies and products. It’s Alexandra’s job to make sure her clients’ names don’t suck.

During the hour-long webinar, Alexandra explained her company’s 12-point Smile & Scratch checklist for making sure your company’s name is a good one, and shared other advice for coming up with creative brand names that have lasting power. Check out a few highlights below.

Harness the power of brainstorming.
Come up with a few words that describe your company or product, and then take each of those words on a brainstorming adventure. Look at their definitions on freedictionary.com, then check out their synonyms on thesauraus.com. Head over to Google and do a web and image search of the word. Type the word into iTunes and see what song titles come up. Essentially, you’re playing a giant game of word association, and you’ll be surprised at how many ideas you can generate.

Take your time.
Give yourself at least a couple of weeks to come up with a solid name. There are lots and lots of places to look for inspiration, and Alexandra stresses that you don’t want to choose something you’ll regret. Additionally, you don’t want to change your name once you’ve established your company either. Refresh your logo or your tagline instead, otherwise you may end up confusing clients.

Don’t stress out about domain names.
If you come up with an awesome name for your company, but the domain is taken, don’t let that stop you. You can add a modifier to the name or turn your company’s name into a phrase/tagline and use that instead. But, be aware of SLURLs, which is what happens when you take the space away between a two-or-more word company name and it spells something completely different.

Avoid using acronyms or your own name.
Acronyms are a stumbling block, and they don’t tell anyone what your name means. Using your own name as a company name is tough too, because it doesn’t say anything about what you do. “Alexandra Watkins” doesn’t tell people that Alexandra is a creative name brander. It’s better to brand yourself with a business name, and it makes it easier to potentially sell your company down the road.

Pay attention to trademarks.
This simple piece of advice might be the most important: Don’t use someone else’s name. Run a free trademark search at legalforce.com, and if possible, consult a lawyer too.

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