Ask The Expert: Naming Your Company – Bernard Uy
Bernard Uy, Co-Founder/Creative Director, Wall-to-Wall Studios Inc.
I have a great idea for a company, but I can’t come up
with a name. How do I get started?
Naming a business requires careful thought.
Here are pointers to get you started:
Define your brand
Entrepreneurs often want to bypass this step, but you need to know who you are before you start conveying that message to your audience. Why should people buy from your business? What makes you different and better than your competitors?
Know your audience
Clearly understanding your target audience is the most important step before the “name-storming” process. What will resonate with your audience? How do you want them to respond to your name? What conveys the right tone, feeling and personality?
What kind of name?
Should it describe what we do? (IBM = International Business Machines.) Do we name it after our founders? (Walmart is named after Sam Walton.) Should we be abstract and evoke feelings about what we do? (Twitter was defined as “a short burst of inconsequential information” and “chirps from birds.”) Should it be local or Hawaiian? (What if I expand my business beyond Hawaii?) Should we create a new word? (Honda and Toyota invented the names Acura and Lexus for their luxury divisions.)
Sky’s the limit (at first)
Consider all options. It’s not uncommon for our team to initially “name storm” hundreds of names. The finalists should be those most in line with your brand. Then imagine it on a business card or in an ad. Say it out loud. Pretend you’re answering the company phone: “Thank you for calling ____________. How may I help you?” Is it easy to spell, pronounce and remember?
Do your research
To avoid trademark infringement, check eHawaii.gov for a statewide trademark search and uspto.gov/trademark to search nationally registered trademarks. And don’t forget to search available Internet domain names (register.com).
The name is only part of the brand
In the end, the name is one piece of the puzzle, so it can’t possibly tell the whole story. For companies like Apple, Nike or Four Seasons, their names alone did not create brand value. But backed by visual identity, marketing strategy, unique products and services, advertising and customer service, their names can now evoke the entire brand experience.
Wall-to-Wall Studios Inc.