An online store’s name is one of its most important assets and a potent part of its brand. In some sense the business name can define its identity.
Since business naming is so important, you don’t want to simply draw a name out of a hat or let your eight-year-old choose. Rather what follows are five suggestions for naming your online store. These suggestions do not constitute everything there is not know about naming, but they should help an entrepreneur start well.
1. Decide What You Want to Communicate
The first step toward a great business name is to decide what you want that name to say to prospective customers about your business.
Once you have a general idea of what you want to communicate, try writing your message out in a single sentence. Then make that sentence shorter and shorter until you have just one or two words.
2. Make it Easy to Pronounce
In many cases, online startups will have one or two major geographic regions or cultures in mind when they market, so it makes sense to choose a business name that customers from those cultures or regions can easily pronounce.
For specific, albeit negative, examples, you probably would not want to name your online store Tadhg, Galifianakis, Miele, or Keneuoe — which are all real names of businesses or people — if you were trying to sell to English speakers.
3. Try a Name Strategy
You may want to consider one of several naming strategies or techniques that have been popular of late.
- Using real words that have a meaning you want to communicate.
- Reasonable misspellings, like “Flickr.”
- Make up words that sound real like “Zappos,” which is similar to the Spanish word for shoes, zapatos.
- Make up a completely whimsical name.
- Blend real words with prefixes and suffixes.
- Use a personal or family name.
4. Check for Competition
You should also consider what your competitors are named. For example, Motorola and Microsoft produce the “Xoom” (pronounced zoom) and “Zune” MP3 players respectively. These names do sound similar, perhaps even too similar.
The goal here is to have a name that is on par with the competition or better, but it should also be differentiated so that there is no way customers can confuse your business with its competitors.
5. Test Your Name
When you have narrowed a list of prospective names to five or less, consider running some tests. Show the list to a group that is representative of your target customer. This group might be folks you can find in your community, or you may need to use an online survey.
As an example, if you are trying to sell to teens that ride skateboards, make sure that you test names with folks from that group. Never assume you know how customers will react to a particular name. Likewise, if your store will aim at brides, ask brides or newlyweds about the names.
A store’s name is an important part of its identity, so an entrepreneur should not take the naming process lightly — think picking names out of a hat. Knowing what the business name should convey and being mindful of customers will go a long way toward selecting a good one.