Figuring out a strong business or product name is essential to the success of your brand and business. I’ve put together a process that I’ve used to help myself and my clients choose strong business names.
It uses several data sources to find what people want and outlines what you need to do to lock the name and protect your business.
Before we get into the four steps let’s review two simple rules to follow when brainstorming business and product names.
2 rules for a compelling business or product name
Most successful businesses and brands are partially successful because they have names that are simple, unique and easy to remember.
How Google got its name
When Google became popular there was this rush to make up ridiculous business names because Google was such an name easy to remember, it was quirky and it was a unique business name. People didn’t realize Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, named their search engine after the term googol.
A googol is a number that is 10 to the 100th power (which is 1 followed by 100 zeros). Google’s location in Palo Alto is called the Googleplex. This is based off another number called a googolplex which is 10 to the power of googol – that is, 1 followed by 10 to the power of 100 zeros.
They misspelled googol and ended up with “Google”. The name is memorable, the domain name was available and it was easy to trademark which are all things I discuss below that are essential to this process.
Having a business name that let’s your customers know what product or service you are selling when they read or hear the name is important.
This is also key when you buy a domain name because it allows you to set expectations before someone visits your site. If you search and you see Honesttea.com you will expect the site to be about tea.
Four step name development process
1. Keyword research
If you are familiar with SEO or Paid Search then you already understand the power of keyword research.Google provides Adwords advertisers with search volume around the keywords people use on their search engine. You want to use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to find keywords with high search volumes that are related to your business.
In order to use Google Keyword Planner you will need to create free Google Adwords account.
Find the Keyword Planner tool and start inputting keyword ideas. Google will give you the search volume, estimated dollar value if you were to bid on the term in Adwords and competition based on how many people are bidding on that term in their auction. They will also suggest relevant terms and their search volume.
Make sure to download the terms with high search volume that relate to your business and or product. You want to use words that people are searching for in large volumes so you can build a product or business name based on what people want and the words they use.
Pro Tip: Google now gives you keyword volume as a range. If you want to get a more specific number you will have to run a campaign or use Keywords Everywhere as outlined below.
Ubersuggest: You then want to take your keywords and put them into Ubersuggest. This is a free tool that uses Google suggested search to show you what people searched for related to your term order.
This is key because it shows you popular word combinations that are being searched. This will helpyou get an idea of what keywords are used by people after your main word.
Answer the Public: You can also use Answer the Public to get a sense of how your terms are being used in sentences and in relation to other popular searches around that term.
Pro Tip: Install this Keywords Everywhere Chrome extension to get search volume overlays on Google Search, Uber Suggest and Ask the Public.
Surveys are essential forgetting feedback from people. Once you have done your keyword research and landed on a few names you should do a survey to see which names resonate with people. SurveyMonkey and Google Surveys are two great options to help you with this.
They will allow you to create a surveys to get direct feedback from the public on how they feel about your names.
Google Surveys is not free it is a pay per completion model. This means you are only paying for completed surveys and can set how many people you are looking to target.
If you want a free option create your free survey with SurveyMonkey and then send it to friends, family and your followers on social media. Ask them to take the survey and give your honest opinion on which name they prefer.
Pro Tip: When you setup your survey keep it super simple and easy to complete
Question 1: Which business name do you prefer?
Business Name 1
Business Name 2
Question 2: Why do you prefer that business name better than the other. Please use the business name in you prefer in your response.
Once you’ve narrowed down the names based on feedback from your surveys you need to go to USPTO.gov and do a trademark search. You have to do this to make sure that no one is using the business or product name you want already.
Basic trademark search:
Go to the basic search and make sure you check if the mark is live or dead and the class that it’s in. If they have the same business or product name as you but it’s dead or in a different class you should contact a trademark lawyer and trademark the name as soon as possible.
Pro Tip: If you are building a global business or product you have to trademark your name in the countries you want to operate in. If your product is unique and you can patent it then do so in more than one country. This is important because recently BrightEdge and Searchmetrics two big SEO software companies made the news for an ongoing patent dispute.
TechCrunch, reports “Searchmetrics alleges that BrightEdge stole its intellectual property, then filed for patents around it. Searchmetrics says, ‘it had patents on its technology in Europe but failed to secure similar patents in the U.S., which created an opening for BrightEdge to exploit.’”
Searchmetrics dropped the ball by not protecting their technology in the U.S. and BrightEdge picked it up and dunked it on them so hard that Searchmetrics is filing for bankruptcy to get out of the court battles. We all must learn for this and make sure that we protect our technology and business names globally.
Once you have a strong product or business name that is available to trademark you must buy the domain name. You will need to have a website up to set a first use date and so that the trademark team can review to ensure you are using the site in the manner you are trademarking it for. If for some reason someone has your domain name already you can add:
HQ (Headquarters) to the end
I love using GoDaddy for all my domain names. Here is how to buy a domain name on GoDaddy for cheaper than you would normally pay. GoDaddy is good about giving discounts and also very good about recommending other possible name options.
Stick with .com and if you have to you can and use a .co (company) if a strong .com is not available. If you are an organization you can buy the .org. If you have some money it might be worth it to buy all versions (.com,.net,.org,.co) etc to protect yourself.
Pro Tip: Check the auctions and look for expired domain names. If you luck out and find a domain name that matches the business name you want then you should buy it. Buying an expired domain name or a domain name that has been used will help you start ranking on search engines faster.
This is because live domains build up authority over time and if they have backlinks then that’s a plus. If the owner lets it expire and doesn’t renew it you can buy it and reap the benefits when that domain authority transfers to you.
Using data and surveys is the best way to find a business name you and your customers will love. Remember to keep the name simple so it’s easy to remember, build your offer into the name and protect it by trademarking the name in all the countries you plan on servicing.