Browsing around /r/Entrepreneur and other entrepreneur communities I see that one roadblock many new entrepreneurs run into is picking a great name for their business.
Name selection is often an overwhelming, frustrating, and exhausting experience.
I can remember how stressful the naming process was for me when launching my first couple of projects. It would start off fun and loose for the first couple of names, but I would quickly become trapped in a mind numbing list of gibberish.
Several hours into it, I could feel my standards dropping and eventually lost all confidence in my ability to even judge the names I was coming up with. That was usually the point where I would put up a desperation post on some forums like this (or the ones you see above) –
And while I think it’s a good idea to ask somebody but yourself, this isn’t the best way to come up with a good name. Not by a long shot.
What I always ended up with were names that I settled for. Terrible names that doomed my projects before they had even started.
And that’s not what I want for you…
So here is the method I have developed over the years to avoid the naming labyrinth and picking the perfect name for your business.
Step 1 – Know What Makes a Good Name
Most people already know intuitively what makes a good business name, so in the spirit of brevity I won’t go in too much detail here.
If you are over-thinking things and want some direction, check out this article for an awesome breakdown of what makes a good name.
Then come back here, because this guide picks up where that one ends…
Step 2 – Brainstorm a List of Names
Once you are confident you’d know a good name if you saw one, you need to come up with a few keywords to get you started.
You probably already have a few in mind. If you don’t, you should probably go back to the last step.
If you’re still lost, look for successful competitors and rapid-growth companies and use them for inspiration.
Huge time saver – Bust-A-Name
Open up Bust-A-Name (the best tool there is for brainstorming domain names) and enter in your initial keyword ideas. I’ll be using StartupBros as the example in this post, since we did use this method to decide on that name (StartupBros was originally going to be IncomeLabs).
So your initial list should look something like this –
As you can see, Bust-A-Name checks all possible combinations of the keywords you put in and gives you the available domains containing those.
Though we just started the naming process, there are already a few good names on the board that I would save. SmartIncomeLabs, StartupIncome, and IncomeBros are all decent names already on the board (and of course StartupBros would have been on this board if it were available).
Add onto initial keyword list
Once you have some initial keywords on the board, you’ll want to expand on those ideas to come up with synonyms/similar keywords.
Bust-A-Name has a feature that will help you with this a little bit –
Mmm – Synonyms…
I also use LeanDomainSearch at this point to expand on ideas and get some ideas going –
Those are really the only two sites I use to come up with keywords. I sometimes also use Thesaurus, but even that is rare.
At this point, you should have a pretty decent amount of name combinations to look through.
Step 3 – Narrow It Down to a Few Decent Names
Now the mind-numbing part of it all – combing through the list of names.
Try to avoid the temptation to get caught up in this stage. Every startup name will have pros and cons to varying degrees.
Bust-A-Name will save you a huge amount of time by only showing you name combinations with available domain names. All you have to do is scroll through and pick the ones you like.
I usually have over 500 names to go through. You’ll probably end up around there.
90% of the names Bust-A-Name generates will be duds, you’re planning for the gold in them…
There is no real process at this point to what names you should be picking – just save the ones that sound decent.
Try to find 25 out of them that you think are decent, then whittle those down to 15…
Then move onto the next step.
Step 4 – Find Out Which One Is Perfect
Now my favorite part – we test to see which name is the best!
This is where everybody screws up…
It seems everybody thinks they should get their naming advice from friends, family, and Facebook friends – I suspect out of desperation.
That is a stupid thing to do.
Ask the audience
I would much rather A/B test my possible business names to find out exactly how much more or less receptive my target audience would be with each name.
I use the same method highlighted in 3 Steps to Validate Your Business Idea For FREE…almost –
- Head over to
Unbounce(I now use and would recommend LeadPages for this) and sign up for a Free Trial account.
- Make an identical landing page for each possible name (you can just duplicate your first page in unbounce)
- Make a quick logo for each possible name with LogoPony and put one on each landing page (don’t forget to publish your page after you’re done!) There are free logo makers you can use as well.
- Run traffic to your landing page.
Your landing pages should look something like this –
Original StartupBros Landing Page
One of four variant landing pages
Make sure the traffic you are running to these pages is targeted. I’d recommend Facebook Ads for this – check out this article for a great breakdown on how to target the correct people.
Once you’re ready to create your final logo and want to use professional designers, we have an incredibly detailed post on using a contest to create the best logos. You can check out the post here.
Step 5 – Domination
After a few days and $50-100, you’ll end up with something like this in Unbounce –
As you can see, the StartupBros name performed 13% better than our original name idea, IncomeLabs.
Thinking about what that 13% means completely baffles me, and I would love to hear your opinions on it.
Does that mean that everything we do at StartupBros will grow 13% faster and perform 13% better than if we were doing it under IncomeLabs?
I suppose there is no way to know for sure…
But what I do know for sure, is that our target market responded better to the StartupBros name more than any other name we could come up with – and that’s why we chose it.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂
Once you decide on a name, here are some additional resources: