Business Tips

7 Criteria of a Good Business Name

Here are my 7 helpful recommendations for choosing the right brand name for your conscious business.
Finding the right name for your brand can have a huge impact on the success of your business. Especially for purposeful and sustainable brands who’s core values need to be clearly communicated to their audiences.

Luckily, Little Ghost Creative has named dozens of successful brands over the years. I’m taking that insight and my knowledge of the marketing and design industry to help you choose a brand name that actually works, converts and builds trust with your consumers.

Here are my 7 helpful recommendations for choosing the right brand name for your business

“The need for good names originates with customers, and customers will always want convenient ways of identifying, remembering, discussing and comparing brands.”
Marty Neumier

1. Find Brand Names That Evoke High Imagery

High imagery, in this case, can be defined as the mental images that appear in your mind when you think of a specific brand. Descriptive brand names, like Toys R Us and General Electric, clearly communicate what service or product the brand offers. When you hear Toys R Us, it’s easy to immediately think, Toys.

On the other hand, if your brand name is an invented word or a derivative of the Latin or Greek language, it likely won’t hold meaning with your audience. There are of course invented brand names that have had success, such as Google and Xerox. But in a saturated market, you’ll want your audience to understand the essence of your brand immediately.

Longhouse Cannabis logo beside a marijuana leaf
The name "Longhouse Cannabis" is simple yet tells a story.

2. Consider How Your Brand Name Will Scale as Your Business Grows

Ask yourself “can I add more to ____ in the future if needed?” Take my brand, Little Ghost Creative. It can easily become Little Ghost Photography or Little Ghost Market if the opportunity presents itself. I specifically selected the name for this reason. It’s flexible and can evolve as my business does.

Picking too narrow of a brand name can limit your business to a specific product, region or industry. Say you’re launching a sustainable bridal boutique. Avoid choosing a name like “Used Wedding Dresses of Toronto.” The obvious is that it doesn’t sound great….but it also wouldn’t allow your name to expand if you started to sell accessories, shoes or wedding planning services.

A well crafted name will lend itself to a number of creative executions and provide opportunities for growth. Plus, when your brand does grow, you won’t lose the brand awareness and love you’ve worked hard to earn with your audience.

Branding for Tea Curious
When Tea Curious thought up their name they knew they wanted to grow.

Here's My Two Cents:

Only add an “established” date to your brand name after it has been in operation for 10 or more years. Frankly, it just looks silly for a brand to brag about being established... yesterday. Right? The “established” tactic is best used when your experience or company history helps to lend credibility and differentiate you from the competition.

3. Avoid Business Names With (Potential) Negative Associations

Maybe you’ve selected a unique name for your brand but….it’s associated with something negative. The name ‘Fyre’ would be a good play-on-words for a candle company, but I wouldn’t use it out of fear of being associated with Fyre Festival (if you know, you know).

Start with a little bit of research. Do a quick Google search and avoid any names that could be connected to an event, meaning in another language or to cultural associations. The last thing you want to do is find your brand name on Urban Dictionary.

You could also do an informal survey to a few people in your target audience. See what their first impression is of your short list of brand names.  

Other Questions to Ask Yourself:
  • What other brands have similar names?
  • Where are they located?
  • Are these brands offering similar products/services as I am?

4. Align Your Name With Your Brand Purpose

This is one of the most important tips that often gets overlooked. The name you choose should reflect the DNA of your business. Your why. Pick a name that differentiates your mission from that of your competitors.

But tread with caution. You don’t literally need to spell out what you offer in your name. Instead, try connecting a name to your brand’s core values by finding synonyms or phrases that have the same meaning.

Beyond Meat and Reformation are examples of conscious brands who have done this really well. Their audiences can gather an idea of what their brand’s purpose is just by reading their name.

It might require a few strategic brainstorming sessions for you to find a name that aligns with your purpose, but it’s worth it.

Lindsay and Chris from Beeproject Apiaries inspecting an urban beehive
Beeproject Apiaries is really just that, a project! It all started as a passion project.

5. Keep it Short and Sweet

You want your audience to remember your name, easily. And shorter names are easier to recall. Simple as that! Just look at the commonality of successful brands like Apple, Tesla and Pixar. They are all short and sweet.

But really the problem with having a longer brand name is that it can result in consumers shortening or abbreviating it. This poses the risk of poor brand recall and recognition. You don’t want people calling your brand by the wrong name or forgetting the full name altogether.

A concise brand name will also be of value when you’re buying a domain and securing social handles — @purebeauty is a much more attractive Instagram handle than @pureandsimplebeautyproducts.

6. Keep it Easy to Say and Spell

This may sound silly but….it’s true. People will have a hard time recalling your brand or telling their friends about it if they don’t know how to say or spell it.

Speak the name aloud several times. Write it out for people to read. Are they able to pronounce it after seeing it written? This is especially important if you choose an inventive word or Latin/Greek name for your brand.

Plus, the easier your brand’s name is to both pronounce and spell, the easier it will be for consumers to find you online.

7. Make Sure Your Business Name is Available

Okay, you’ve finally narrowed down a short list of brand names. Congrats! Now, it’s time to see which ones are available.

Consistency is key for brand recall, so make sure your name is available across all channels. It also makes it easier for your audience to find you online. They’ll only have to search one name to pull up all your business’ platforms.

Chances are, there’s likely other global brands out there who already have the name you’re interested in….or some version of it. Don’t get discouraged. Instead adjust your approach. Will you be doing business in only one country or region? If yes, you can register your business in the country you’ll be operating in regardless if it is registered in a different country. If no, try adding on a descriptive word to differentiate it.

Keep pivoting your approach until you find a name that’s available.

Here's My Two Cents:   

If you can answer yes to these questions, then the name is a good contender.

  • Can I trademark this name?
  • Is a URL/domain available for this name?
  • Is this name or something very similar available on socials?
Bobo brand identity along with two cute babies
When your name is easy to say, it's easy to remember.
“A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.”
Seth Godin

That is how to choose a name for your small business

My biggest piece of advice from all these recommendations is that choosing a brand name takes time, research and personal investment. Choosing the name for your brand is one of the most important early decisions you’ll make in your business.

So be strategic. And overall, be sure to pick a name you love. After all, you’ll be more connected to it than anyone else.

For more brand insight and strategy ideas, follow me on Instagram.