Choosing a name and logo for your new company is a critical step in establishing your business. The right name will be memorable, original and will evoke the right emotions and connections to your business. Similarly, a great logo will be distinct, attractive, and create instant recognition when people see it.
Most entrepreneurs are so focused on the creation and refinement of their products and services that they neglect the important step of selecting the perfect name and logo. Don't make that mistake – names and logos matter. People will associate your business with them and that is how the public will remember you. .
In this article, we are going to provide a step-by-step guide to choosing the right name and logo for your business. We'll cover 7 popular naming strategies (including generic naming, descriptive naming, suggestive naming, etc.) and 9 essential tips to follow when selecting your name (which includes guidelines on name length, spelling, pronunciation, distinctiveness, and more).
We'll also give you some helpful tips to create an original and attractive logo for free (as well as affordable paid options).
It's a lot to cover, so let's get into it.
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The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not a recommendation to buy or invest, and it is not financial, investment, legal, or tax advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified professional before making any investment or other decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
Choosing a Name
Selecting the right name for your business can be challenging, but we are going to provide some tips that should make the job a lot easier.
Popular Naming Strategies
People choose names for their business using a lot of strategies, but here are some of the most common business naming strategies. You can use one or more of these strategies to come up with a lot of different options. Experiment with these strategies and see what type of name resonates with you.
- Generic Names – These are names that describe an entire category of goods or services. Think cars.com, hotels.com, mattress.com, etc. The advantage of these types of names is that they are easy to remember and 100% on target when describing what you are offering. The downside (and it's a big one) is that they are generally not able to be trademarked.
- Descriptive Names – These names describe the type of business you are operating and are more targeted than generic names. One example would be “Cold and Creamy” for an ice cream business. These names can also be challenging to trademark, so you may want to take that into consideration.
- Suggestive Names – These are names that give people an idea of what your business is about but doesn't describe it specifically. Examples include Netflix (suggestive of flicks, which are movies), Jaguar (fast animals suggest fast cars), and Coppertone (suggests the color of skin when it tans).
- Arbitrary Names – These types of names are real words that are completely unconnected to what your business does. Apple is a classic example of an arbitrary name. Although these types of names don't give any direct indicator of what your business is about, they give you a very broad range of names to choose from and the names are generally easy to trademark.
- Fanciful Names – These are names that are completely made up and are not real words. They often evoke a desired image. Exxon, Verizon, and Lexus are examples of fanciful names. A lot of tech companies use fanciful names, so choosing one can give people that type of association. Like arbitrary names, they are relatively easy to trademark.
- Family Names – This one's pretty self-explanatory. Think Charles Schwab, Smith & Wesson, and Johnson & Johnson.
- Acronyms – This one also needs no explanation. IBM, GEICO, and AT&T are just a few examples of this type of naming strategy.
Guidelines to Selecting the Right Name
Now that you know the various naming strategies out there, it's time to better understand some of the guidelines that you should consider when settling on a name for your business.
|Keep Your Name Short and Sweet||Make It Easy to Spell and Pronounce||Make Your Name Memorable|
|Pick An Elegant Name||Make Your Name Tie to Your Products or Services||Make It Distinguishable From Competitors|
|Make Sure Your Name Can Grow With Your Business||Align With Domain Name||Don't Violate Other's Rights|
- Keep it Short – Do not make your name too long. One or two words is ideal. If you look at most really successful companies, they have stuck to this principle. I am hard pressed to think of any hugely successful company that has a name that consists of more than three words. In fact, most have only one word (e.g., Amazon, Apple, Tesla, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Walmart, Visa, etc.)
- Make It Easy to Spell and Pronounce – This goes hand in hand with keeping your name short. Do not make your name overly complicated. If its uses an unusual spelling or is really difficult to spell, that can lead to confusion and may cause customers to go to the wrong place (in the worst case, to a competitor). The same goes for pronunciation. A hard to pronounce name will be annoying for your potential customers and that is the last thing you want.
- Make It Memorable – Try to find a name that people will easily remember. It should be interesting and unique. No need to make it shocking or controversial – just something more interesting than Boring ABC Company, Inc.
- Elegant – You want a name that is elegant and will age well. While an overly clever, funny or cute name may seem catchy at first, its appeal may wear down over time as your business becomes more established.
- Ties To Your Products or Services – Unless you are using a naming strategy that doesn't lend itself to this (e.g., arbitrary naming or fanciful naming), it is a good idea to use a name that easily identifies the type of business you are operating. That way, when people read or hear your name, they will know exactly what your business has to offer them.
- Easily Distinguishable From Your Competitors – The last thing you want is for customers to confuse you with your competitors. So make sure your name is easily distinguishable from the rest of the pack. These days people are shopping and conducting commerce online, so having a distinct name is all the more important to make sure your customers find you.
- Can Grow With Your Business – This is in line with the advice around making your name elegant. You want your name to be able to grow with your business. That means it should have the necessary gravity to fit with a larger enterprise and should be broad enough to allow for growth. For example, let's say you start your business making guacamole and decide to name your business Ben's Supreme Guacamole. If you want to expand into adjacent products, like salsa, hummus, etc., you are now saddled with a name that is too narrow to support that type of expansion.
- Aligns With Domain Name – Any business worth its salt is going to have a website. That means you will want a good domain name for your website. Your name should bear some resemblance to your website domain, so keep that in mind when selecting one. In most cases, getting a good domain name is tough because most of them are taken. You may have to settle for a reasonably close resemblance between the two or add a few words to your regular business name in the domain name to get one that is not already taken.
- Doesn't Violate Someone Else's Naming Rights – You want to come up with an original name for your business. This is for both legal and practical reasons. On the legal front, if you use a name that is already trademarked or otherwise legally owned by another entity, you may get slapped with a cease and desist letter or even a lawsuit. Hardly a good beginning for a new business. In addition, using a name that is confusingly similar to another business could result in lost sales and other undesirable outcomes. Check with the USPTO's trademark search tool and your state's business registration agency to confirm the name is not already taken.
Still having trouble figuring out a name? Try some free name generation tools to give you some inspiration. I like Shopify’s business name generator. But you can also try any of the following:
Select a Logo
Ok, let's pivot now to selecting a solid logo for your new business. As a general rule, you want to create an attractive logo that is original and instantly recognizable.
Settle on a color palette that is aesthetically pleasing and that aligns with your business' theme. For example, many banks use the colors red, white and blue (e.g., Bank of America, Citibank, Capital One, US Bank) because these colors evoke feelings of trust (blue is the color of trust) and patriotism. If you want to understand how colors represent various feelings and themes, check out this article describing what each color represents.
Choosing the right colors for your logo will matter down the line too. For consistency's sake, you may want to stick to your color palette when choosing your website colors, as well as colors for your products and packaging.
As far as developing the logo itself, you can go on canva.com and check out some of their logo templates and start from there. It's a free option, but you will need to customize the logo templates to your liking. If you are artistically inclined and do not mind working through the customization features on canva, this is a great option.
I like canva and find their interface easy to use. I use them quite a bit for simple design jobs.
But if you prefer a more ready-made solution, one solid option is to go on Fiverr and hire someone to create your logo. There are tons of people who do this, and I have seen pricing as low as $5. For that price, you can probably try a bunch of folks and pick the logo that suits you best.
Or you can go with Looka. They are an AI-powered platform that will provide you a professional looking logo at reasonable prices. You can choose from hundreds of logo designs (based on parameters and preferences you select) before settling on one you like. You can also customize to your heart’s content. Check them out here.
Make sure the logo you select can scale well (i.e., it will not lose its integrity if it is presented in a larger or smaller format). You will also want to ensure that the colors and gradients you use do not result in a logo that cannot be presented well in black and white. This could happen if you use many colors and gradients. You can check your logo in grayscale to test if this problem exists.
Just like with your name, you want to make sure your logo is original to you and is not going to infringe someone else's intellectual property, so check the USPTO's trademark search tool as a starting point.
Get Other's Opinions on Your Name and Logo
Once you have settled on a few good candidates for your name and logo, you may want to tap into your network (including family, friends, and business contacts) and get feedback from them.
If you are truly torn between two options, this can be a great way to break the tie. I have seen people use Linkedin to ask people to choose between two logos, for example. Of course, there are other social media channels (Facebook comes first to mind) that will work just as well for this purpose.
In most cases, after this type of polling, you should start to see a clear winner.
So there you have it – 16 key strategies and tips to help you choose an awesome name and logo for your business.
Although choosing a name and logo are crucial steps in starting your new business, there's obviously a lot more you need to do to get your fledgling business up and running. If you want a full step-by guide to starting your new business, check out my ultimate beginner's guide to starting a business.