Every year new companies, or companies considering rebranding, ask us for advice about how to name their business. Modern businesses have to think differently today when it comes to choosing your corporate identity.
Here are our basic guidelines we use when helping customers choose a name for their company.
Business Naming Guidelines and Domain Names
- Choose your domain name first! Finding out after a big branding investment that someone else has registered your domain www.mycompany.com could be extremely expensive. Your best bet is to identify a good quality domain that’s not registered. The second best option is acquiring a previously registered domain as inexpensively as possible.
- Check social media availability. Make sure your company or brand are available on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and any other social sites you plan on using.
- Scoop up potentially damaging domains. It’s rumored that Verizon paid six figures to purchase the name www.Verizonsucks.com. Also grab alternative spellings or misspellings and don’t forget the .net and .org variations of your domain.
- Avoid confusion with competitors. In some industries small businesses often have similar names. Having the only “Acme Widgets” in Pennsylvania may still make it difficult to differentiate yourself from other companies with similar names. It’s better to change your name and face an uphill battle with established companies and websites.
- Set them to auto-renew. You have a great domain and a strong business name. Two years goes by and you forget to renew it. Next thing you know, your biggest competitor has snatched up your name and you’re faced with writing a big check or a long legal battle to reacquire it. If you don’t believe me, ask 2016 presidential candidate Jeb Bush whose www.JebBush.com domain was snatched up by Donald Trump supporters just before the primaries.
Common Business Naming Strategies
- Use your name. Many great companies carry the namesake of the founders. Sears, JCPenney, Walmart, Hewlett-Packard, Ford Motors, DuPont, Disney and Dell are all examples.
- Use your location. Many small businesses serve a single geographic area. Pennzoil, Quaker State and Texaco oil companies were named based on their state of origin. Adobe, Wachovia and Santander were named based on local bodies of water.
- Avoid the ampersand. Ben & Jerry’s, Harry & David’s, B & H Photo, H&R Block and Johnson & Johnson would probably all be named something different in the age of the Internet, where the ampersand can’t be used in a web URL.
- Grab a dictionary. Twitter, Google (misspelled), Blizzard, Caterpillar, Cello, were names chosen simply because they sounded nice to the founders.
- Invent something new. Intel, Verizon, Comcast, Häagen-Dazs, Altria, Infineon, Accenture, Kodak, Lego and, well, Mediastead were invented. One benefit of this today is you may find a catchy short domain name still available for $15.
Mediastead Can Help Name Your Business
No one can choose your business name, but Mediastead can help. Choosing a name and finding an available domain can be tricky and time-consuming. Mediastead has developed tools that can generate up to 15,000 names, using a combination of factors and determine availability of domain names automatically.
Starting with 15,000, we will cull the list down to 50 to 100, all with available domains.
The owners then narrow the list to the Top 5.
Mediastead can will analyze the each of the five in-depth and give you a final report including:
- Domain availability and costs of acquiring them
- Trademark availability or potential conflicts
- Potential industry conflicts or confusion
- Potential for “lost in translation” to more than 100 languages, including urban slang
Mediastead also has experience registering trademarks, logos and wordmarks and can assist in the process. For tricky cases, we will refer you to an intellectual property attorney if needed.
I already have a name, but someone owns the domain. Now what?
You like your company name, but the best domain is taken. Worst of all, no one is using it. Mediastead can help.
There are several ways we help:
- If your company domain name is owned by another company, sometimes they are willing to part with it. We can help you assess the value, and even act as a third-party intermediary to negotiate the price and transfer the domain.
- If your domain is owned by “squatters”, people who snatched domains simply to resell them, we can determine a realistic value. Sometimes it’s cheaper to simply make them an offer, and other times it may be better to file a suit.
- Waiting it out. Mediastead can identify names near expiration, and covertly grab them within minutes of when they become available. Good domains that expire naturally are often snapped up in the first 24 hours.
- Choose another domain that’s equally effective.
- Help you choose a new company name and estimate rebranding costs.
When acquiring your domains or considering a business name or renaming, consult with us first. One telephone call could save you thousands of dollars and lots of headaches.