Thinking of using some fancy-dancy automated name generating program to brainstorm possible new company names or new product names? You can easily find such software utilities in a web search.
In what appears to be a bonus of incredible value, these programs not only propose names for your consideration but also take a look and see whether the matching dot-com domain is available.
You know what, though? Most of the time, these advanced and handy tools do not resolve your naming challenge. Indeed, they could be setting you up for a naming catastrophe. Only a knowledge of common naming traps would save you from disaster.
For example, let’s suppose we’re launching a new haircutting salon. One of the names suggested by a name generating program is HaircutSquare. Amazingly, the day I’m writing this article, HaircutSquare.com is an available domain. As you think about this name, the tagline “Where you always get a square deal” pops into your mind. You even start dreaming up the logo and the interior décor of the salon.
Well, not so fast. This business name has three serious strikes against it.
First, the word “square” has as one of its meanings “dorky” or “fuddy-duddy.” It wouldn’t start your business off with a whoosh if your name sent the message, “no fashionable haircuts here!”
Second, “square” indicates a blunt-cut, regular shape that people might not want representing their hair style.
Third, “square” implies a high-traffic location that might be busy and frantic – great for the owners, but not so convenient for those hoping to get a quick haircut.
Automated name generating tools do not warn you about any such pitfalls. Only someone with a deep understanding of the human language – or someone who is forewarned of the kinds of dangers to look out for – can reject these unfortunate company name options.
Additionally, name generation software doesn’t do a good job of coming up with out-of-the-box, captivating company names. The programs give you name possibilities that fall into predictable patterns. More unexpected names like the following are never going to come out of those name generators:
New You Design
How to Name Your Business or Product on Your Own
Here’s a better method of generating a powerful new name and make certain it’s going to work for you.
1. Brainstorm as many keywords related to your business or product as you can. Use Thesaurus.com and keep jotting down words and phrases until you have at least 75.
2. Look for puns, clichés and homonyms of the items on your list. Begin combining items, changing them a little and writing down any new ideas that come to you. Pay special attention to alliteration (repetition of the initial sound), rhyming and contrasting concepts.
3. Now cross off any candidates that have any negative or unwanted implications. Say the names out loud and eliminate any that are hard to pronounce or spell. Reject those that are just blah, that your intended customers wouldn’t respond to or that convey an off-target message.
4. You should have just 3-5 options left now. Try these on for size, imagining saying them on the phone and seeing them on stationery, the web and signage. If you don’t feel comfortable with one or more of them, eliminate those. Choose a favorite if more than one option remains.
5. Finally, check for any legal problems, such as your favorite name already being trademarked or a name making a promise you can’t substantiate.
You’re done! Congratulations, and begin using that great new name everywhere.