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11 min read

How to Come Up with a Business Name and My Journey of Renaming My Company

Written by Andriy Boychuk
11 min read
Table of Contents

    In early 2017, when I started providing email marketing services, I did not expect to build an email marketing agency. I was freelancing without even knowing what freelancing was. But I knew one thing – I needed to come up with a business name to register a domain. I wanted to be professional with a website.

    So…

    I put my creative hat on in my one-person business, and I came up with a business name.

    What was my thought process?

    I provide email marketing service, so it was only logical that the name should include the words “email marketing.”

    Also, I live in New York. And NYC is cool and iconic. So, I combined the two.

    Email Marketing NYC.

    I thought I was a genius! Just kidding.

    In this post, I describe what I learned from naming the company the right way, how to come up with a business name, and share my journey of renaming my company.

    I will include the process of creating a business name and a list of things you need to do when you rename a company.

    !!! WARNING !!!  

    Before you jump to the steps of naming your company, please read the following paragraphs.

    Why is a Business Name Important?

    The company name is essential. And trust me, it’s a long and inconvenient process to change the company name and everything around it.

    However, I would not recommend focusing on the name when you are just getting started with your business.

    As Michael Hyatt said, it’s a way of “fancy” procrastination. Yes, you are “working.” You are brainstorming your perfect company name. However, if you aren’t making money in the meantime, there will be no company!

    So, I would recommend focusing on making money and providing great products or services to your customers before you think about your perfect business name.

    Why? Because people care more about your service or product quality than your company name. The quality comes first. The name comes later! I understand that you have great ambition and want to create the next big brand, like Tesla or Nike, but it will take time and resources. Even Nike had a different name in the beginning – it was called Blue Ribbon at first!

    How to Come Up with a Business Name?

    In this article, I’ll explain how to come up with a great business name.

    This guide will be divided into five parts:

    1. How to Name Your Business: 11 Criteria
    2. 4 Resources for Naming Your Company
    3. 3 Techniques to Create a Business Name for Your Company
    4. How to Come Up with a Unique Business Name: the Template
    5. Renaming a Company: the Checklist

    How to Name Your Business: 11 Criteria

    Most of the criteria for name creation were taken from the book The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch by Dan Norris (the guy who created WP Curve, which was later acquired by GoDaddy for $1 million).

    What’s more, I read a bunch of articles on the internet and put them here as well so that you can have a complete guide.

    Let’s get started! Here are the most important business name criteria you should care about.

    Make sure there’s a domain available for the name

    This is the first and the most important criterion of coming up with your business name.

    You should check GoDaddy, or any other domain marketplaces, to see if there’s a .com domain available for the name you’ve chosen.

    In recent years, all kinds of domain extensions have become popular. However, “.com” is still the most common one.

    So, before you settle on a name, check if the domain is available. I started my name search at the domain level. If the domain weren’t available, I would automatically scratch the name and search for a different one.

    Make your business name unique, unforgettable, and catchy

    You want the name to be unique, but you also want it to be something that anybody can easily remember.

    For example, “Banana” is simple and easy to remember. However, it’s not unique. If you type in “Banana” in Google, you’d have to compete with farmers and grocery stores.

    Unless you only sell bananas, this is not the right name.

    Avoid unusual spellings, hard to pronounce, and commonly misspelled words

    Having a unique name is one of the first steps, but you don’t want it to be spelled differently from what it sounds like.

    One of my friends wanted to name their company NewView, but the actual spelling was supposed to be Nuview. Just imagine how many mistakes it would cause from an operational perspective.

    Also, imagine that a client is so happy with your service that they tell others about your company. And when their friend asks for the company name, they say, “Oh, yes, it’s Nuview.” How do you think that friend would remember and spell it right later?

    Make it easy to pronounce

    You need to say your company name out loud and see if it’s easy to pronounce and whether it sounds rhythmic and pleasant to the ears.

    We work with an email marketing software company called Klaviyo. It’s a cool and unique business name, but many people pronounce it differently. The company even created an entire video about how the customer should pronounce it!

    How to Pronounce Klaviyo from Klaviyo on Vimeo.

    Find a name that has almost no Google matches

    The next important criterion when choosing your business name is to check if it appears on Google. When you type it into Google Search, there should be as few search results as possible. It should be 0 to 5 pages of search maximum.

    The name might be unique and easy to pronounce, but if it has thousands of search results on the internet, you will suffer from a lack of online visibility.

    Maybe the name you came up with means something simple like “apple” in a different language… Unless you sell apples, you want to avoid potentially drowning in apple-related search results.

    Check if the name is available for incorporation

    Many articles on the internet state that it’s important to check whether your chosen business name is available for incorporation.

    I don’t believe that’s the case. However, I still recommend checking if there are no trademarks with such names and big corporations to avoid any legal problems later.

    And even if there are no legal problems, there might be circumstances that will require you to change the name.

    But, no worries! In case that happens to you, I’ll explain how to change your business name later in this article.

    Keep it under 12 characters

    According to Dan Norris ‘ book, all great and iconic companies have 12 characters in their name or fewer.

    Is it a coincidence? I don’t know. However, if it works for the world’s leading businesses, it should work for you and me.

    You can discard any name with 13 or more characters unless you can use acronyms like IBM (International Business Machine) or FedEx (Federal Express).

    Check the name’s meaning in different languages

    I covered this briefly before, but you need to check if your business name means something in a foreign language.
    It might sound unique, fun, and professional in one language and weird or rude in another one. You can simply Google the name and check the results.

    Make sure you like it

    For the past year or so, I have been trying to come up with a name for another company I partially own.

    However, it turns out that I don’t like any name I come up with that works with every criterion and has an available domain.

    I know it’s a very subjective territory, but it’s a great sign if you really like the name you chose. And if you don’t, keep searching.

    Don’t include location in the name

    At the moment of choosing your business name, you don’t know how big you will grow. So, including your location in your business name might not be a good idea.

    The mistake I made was including NYC in my company name. Now, we work with clients all over the USA, and having NYC in the name wasn’t serving us anymore.

    Include a clue about what you do

    This one is not critical, but it would be nice for your name to provide a clue of what you do. This can be both a benefit and a downside.

    Sometimes you might pivot in your business, and you don’t want to change your business name every time you make a pivot. So, take this criterion with a grain of salt or ignore it completely.

    4 Resources for Naming Your Company

    1. Wordoid – I check this website a lot for inspiration. You type letters or whole words in it, and it adds ending or beginning letters to create unique names that sound good. Also, they have an option to show available domains on GoDaddy.
    2. Indiemaker – This is a place where people sell their side projects and domains. There are many domains for sale. I recommend signing up for their newsletter to get weekly updates with new listings.
    3. Domains on auction – This is a marketplace for domain providers like GoDaddy, where people list domains for sale and bid to buy them. However, it takes time to win good domains, and sometimes, it might be expensive.
    4. Flip through the dictionary – Another way is to borrow a huge dictionary from the library and start flipping through it to find a unique and uncommon word, such as Uber. Yes, Uber is a widely known word now, but it was rarely used in the English language before.

    3 Techniques to Create a Business Name for Your Company

    1. Take the main word of your company and add an ending, such as LY, FY, IUM, IFY, IYO, etc. Famous companies that did that are, for example, Cabify (Uber alternative), Sortly (organizer inventory app), Buildium (property management software), and Shopify (eCommerce platform).
    2. Combine two words. It can be random words or related ones. There are no rules, but doing that might make it easier for you to come up with a business name. Examples of companies that used this technique are DoorDash and MailChimp.
    3. Keep your eyes open and be curious. As you walk around the city, drive through the streets, or browse the internet, always be on the lookout for company names. Another company name might become an inspiration for your own. For example, Ezra Firestone created a company called Zipify. It’s an app for Shopify. Do you see the similarity? It has the same ending. So, if you want to sell bananas, maybe you can call your company Bananify. This is just a crazy example… Please, do not use that name! (lol)

    How to Come Up with a Unique Business Name: the Template

    Let’s build a simple table in Excel or Google sheets with all the criteria listed above, or just click here to get a pre-built sheet (no opt-in required, just download and use it).

    Here’s what it should look like:

    1. The first column will have all of the names you are considering.
    2. The next set of columns will have all the important criteria listed from the top. For each name, put a score from 1 to 10. One is the worst, and ten is the best.
    3. The next column will be a domain price score. If the domain is available for sale on a hosting website like GoDaddy, put a 10. If the domain is not available, put a 1. If the domain is available for sale, but from resellers, please put any score you like based on the actual cost of the domain. Personally, I’d put a 5 for anything above $1,000.
    4. The next column will be the total score sum and sum up all previous cell numbers horizontally.
    5. And the last column will be for notes. This is optional, but you might like to add some additional comments.

    The last step is to pick 2 or 3 names with the highest score.

    Here’s my sheet with the names that I was brainstorming with back in 2018 or 2019 (I don’t remember exactly).

    In the end, I came up with the business name Flowium. I was set with the word Flow. I just needed to find an ending or another word to add to it.

    One of the options I came up with was Flowiyo. Since we work exclusively on the Klaviyo platform, I thought it would be cool to have a similar name. However, it didn’t click.

    Back in 2019, I was walking around at a real estate conference, and they had many vendors selling their services or products. One property management software company was named Buildium.

    Wow. This is a cool name, I thought.

    How about adding IUM to Flow. So, I went through my checklist. The domain was unavailable, but it was for sale, and I could submit my offer. So, I sent a bid for $250. The proposal was accepted within seven days.

    And this is how we got our new name, Flowium.

    So, which is better: Email Marketing NYC or Flowium?

    The next challenge was renaming the company and everything related from Email Marketing NYC to Flowium.

    Renaming a Company: the Checklist

    Renaming a company is very inconvenient. In addition, it’s doing a disservice to your company. Your current clients and prospects know you by one name, and now, you’re changing it.

    However, it’s better to rename a company that is already making money than investing hours of your time to come up with a perfect name when you’re just starting out.

    As Dan Norris says, you need to give yourself no longer than one day to come up with the business name.

    Here are some things you should do when you rename your company:

    1. Redirect traffic from your current website to the new one. You should do a 301 redirect. This way, Google will recognize that you moved your site instead of identifying your new domain as a completely new site. I strongly recommend hiring a web developer or SEO consultant to do it for you if you don’t already have one. You can find qualified professionals on Upwork.
    2. Forward your old company emails to the new one.
    3. Create auto-responses in your old email notifying people that you changed your name. Here’s the copy of an autoresponse that I use.
    4. Change your email in all financial institutions.
    5. Change your email in all subscriptions and software you use.
    6. Rename your Facebook page. You might need to prove that you changed your business name. You can do that with a press release. I recorded a video and sent it to Facebook as proof. Here’s the video that Facebook had to approve before changing our name.
    7. Rename your YouTube channel and other social media accounts for your business.
    8. Rename business directories.
    9. Keep the old domain and continue paying for it. You don’t want your competitor to buy it and redirect any other traffic.
    10. Rename your corporation or just create a DBA – doing business as.

    Renaming a Company: Final Thoughts

    The renaming process takes a long time, so be patient. It should generally take approximately one year for the entire migration, or even more.

    I still receive some emails on my old email address. But this is the price that I had to pay for changing my company name.

    Was it worth it?

    The short answer is yes.

    After we renamed the company and took several other actions, we got a lot of business traction and grew 600% in one year.

    In conclusion, the company name is essential for marketing, sales, and team culture. It takes time to come up with the right name, but it’s worth every minute.

    But, as I already mentioned, you shouldn’t invest more than one day to come up with the perfect business name when you are just starting out. And if you follow the process above and incorporate all the tips mentioned in this guide, one day will be more than enough.

    Remember that if you don’t like the name, you can change it later. The most important thing for you and your new business is to start making money. Trying to come up with the perfect name shouldn’t hold you back from doing that.

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