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.

How to pick a good business name

how to choose a good business name

how to choose a good business name 3

Name selection is often an overwhelming, frustrating, and exhausting experience.

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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) –

How to choose a good business name 2

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 –

Initial Keyword List

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 –

Keyword Synonyms

Mmm – Synonyms…

I also use LeanDomainSearch at this point to expand on ideas and get some ideas going –

lean domain search

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 10…

Then 5…

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 Creatr and put one on each landing page (don’t forget to publish your page after you’re done!
  • Run traffic to your landing page.

Your landing pages should look something like this –

landing page

Original StartupBros Landing Page

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.

Step 5 – Domination

After a few days and $50-100, you’ll end up with something like this in Unbounce –

Business Name Test

StartupBros wins!

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 🙂

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Author

Will Mitchell

Will Mitchell is a serial entrepreneur and Founder of StartupBros. You can learn more about him at the StartupBros About Page. If you have any questions or comments for him, just send an email or leave a comment!

  • vivek panchal says:

    Hey i am starting a new bussines . Which is related with recruitment services. So can you guyes suggest me any name for my company

  • Susan li says:

    Interesting article. I got my name created by a young naming agency http://www.rollingnames.com Highly recommend them!

  • danish says:

    Any one please suggest me a best name for my gloves company my favourite names are (Tillman,midas,hillbro,long view) but that also registered names please suggest me like that names’

  • John says:

    Interesting infos Mitchell – thanks!

  • Mic says:

    Hi I have online advertising website need a perfect name for it.
    thanks

  • Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact used to be a
    enjoyment account it. Look complicated to more brought agreeable from you!
    By the way, how can we communicate?

  • Priyanka says:

    @Will

    The hardest is the will to begin and to start your own business.

    Hope your ideas will work…

    Regards
    Priyanka

  • […] named hundreds of companies and products. As a result, much popular advice is of limited value (“Use a name generator”) or utterly untethered from reality (“Allow one day for the naming […]

  • Michael says:

    Hi There! I’m following the steps in this post to A/B test a few names for my startup, it’s been super helpful so far! I’m now at step 4 but wondering if I need to actually buy each domain name in order to test them out? Because right now I’m looking at $171 for 5 (GoDaddy price), and you mention an estimate of $50-100 after the facebook ads and all. Am I missing something?

  • Ankit says:

    starting and selecting best name for a bussiness is not a easy thing you have wait until that u understand all the thing you want i have some ideas for some starting busiines and tips that help people for selecting names

  • Ankit says:

    The first important thing is to pick a good name for business after starting up that it may affect the business strategy.

  • Friends,

    I want to get a name for 3 star hotel that should a french tone………… Please suggest me one…………also u can combine with place……… Place name is CALICUT………..Try to start the name with HOTEL word……Waiting for ur kind reply, i will forward you some names, if u couldnt select one, please find one……..
    Hotel Duke’s Mansion
    Tranquil Bliss Regency
    Lord’s Oak Residency
    Hotel Light Ribbon
    Hotel Southern Sublime
    Hotel Zamorin’s Mansion
    Hotel Kalifo
    Hotel Qaliqut
    Calico Cloth Regency
    Hotel Calico Caliyan

  • Tim says:

    When setting up the page variants in unbounce, do you set the weight equally for all the pages you want to test (variants of different business names)? Or test one page at a time with 100% weight?

    Thanks.

  • Charlotte Buffett says:

    I am testing 7 different potential business names using Unbounce (I chose them over Lead Pages because they have a 30 day free trail). I have published each of the pages and I am wondering if there is anything I should do to drive traffic to the sites or am I supposed to just leave them and wait to see which business name does the best.

  • Jeremy says:

    I changed my small business name and logo several times before landing on Spacer Creative (though it was decently easy for me as I am a graphic designer). Now I’ve actually gotten quite a few compliments on the name! Though I wonder if having it tested first would have made me reconsider..

  • Chris says:

    J&DS Engine Works

  • handsomerandyblackladbrad1953 says:

    I want to start a brand name which refers to us 55+ lads.Any ideas for such an appellation?

  • Declan says:

    Interesting and helpful.. Thanks!

  • irfanmahmood says:

    this is boring and not helpful

  • Greg says:

    Hi! This is Greg from OneClickName. OneClickName is a new marketplace where entrepreneurs can buy and sell premium domain names. We’ve got a powerful semantic engine so it’s easy to fing great names. People looking for creative names should really give it a try. Thanks!