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4 easy steps to a great new company name

Posted in: Uncategorized ♦ Tuesday, March 20th, 2012, 11:35 pm ♦ No Comments
4 easy steps to a great new company name

Naming a company is one of the hardest decisions for a startup, Just look at my company’s ridiculous name, Zoyo. (It’s a word of cheer from Africa, by the way.)

This process does not need to be confusing or stressful. Here is a strategy that makes naming a new company – or renaming and old one – a clear, methodical process. Just use this simple 4-step process.

1. Recruit trusted helpers

Do you have three or so trusted people who are in the “target audience” of your clients? They could be clinets, colleagues, or professionals you respect. Ask them to help you.

2. Prepare your list of company names

Brainstorm. Come up with a list that’s at least 10 names long. Choose your own name (or versions thereof… like Wendy’s or McDonald’s), modify words that concern your product line (think Microsoft), or just put together random letters (Xerox anyone?).  If you can’t think of any names, ponder the names of companies you like and branch off from there. Make the list long enough to contain a true range of styles and messages—all within your comfort level. Don’t keep any name you couldn’t live with.

3. Survey your helpers

This is where your friends and colleagues come in. You want to show them the list and as them some questions about it. Spend a few minutes thinking about the specific questions you’d ask:

–What does the word “{NAME HERE}” mean to you?

–What did you think of, immediately, when you first heard the name “{NAME HERE}” ?

–If you heard a company had the name “{NAME HERE}” what kind of work do you think it would do? What kind of company values would it have?

Write down those questions on a piece of paper

Then call your trusted client-type-connections.

Ask them if they have a minute to think about some questions you have, then read the list of questions to them.

Read it right off the paper.

Make no comments during your survey

Write down what they say. Don’t try to argue with them or make any point. Just write down what they say. Thank them and hang up.

4. Analyze your results

Once you’ve listened to the reactions of three trusted people, go back and look at your notes. Think about their feedback with an objective eye. For which names to they mention “meanings” that have nothing to do with the ideals of your company? Which names inspire them to restate your company’s goals and missions? If the answers of the three colleagues are not consistent, then find some other people in your target audience who’d be willing to talk to you and do the exercise again. Once you get a trend in answers, select the name that brings out the ideas that most closely match the concepts you want to express as you grow your company.

Create an effective company name

It may sound like a lot of work, but with this 4-step process you’ll have a better grasp on your name and you’ll go on to use it with confidence.


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