How to find the best company naming service to brand your business
By Phil Davis
President of Tungsten Branding
With over twenty-five years of company naming and branding expertise, Tungsten founder Phil Davis is a marketing and advertising veteran, having personally named over 250 companies, products and services worldwide. As a sought after branding expert, Phil has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, and Newsday.
5 Best Practices When Choosing a Business Naming Agency
Whether you are a consulting company, business service provider or entrepreneur, finding a new business name can be a daunting task. Fortunately, company naming services exist to help run the gauntlet of business name development, tagline creation, trademark and domain name acquisition.
To find the best company naming service, keep this list in mind…
1. Choose a business naming firm that best matches your project needs
Company naming services run the spectrum from business name generators, to full-service naming and branding agencies. For a few hundred dollars, you have “namers” generate a punch list of dozens or even hundreds of candidates for you to choose from. These can be assorted freelancers or crowd sourcing sites such as Fiverr.com or CrowdSpring.com to name a couple. Keep in mind, these are often unvetted names in terms of trademark screening and domain availability, and this approach works best if you just need a naming service to brainstorm a quantity of company names for you and your team to mull over.
Full-service naming firms will first help you establish your brand criteria, brand story, and overall brand message, and then find available company names, matching and supportive tag lines, and available .com domains to complete the picture. Think of name generators, freelancers and the crowd sourcing sites as a DIY service that you will need to supervise, and full time naming companies as contractors that will custom build your brand identity to your specifications.
2. Check out their own name, client showcase and references
Company naming is now a separate sub specialty as the demand for unique business names, matching domain names and trademark availability has skyrocketed. While there are hundreds, if not thousands of marketing and branding agencies, legitimate business naming firms focus entirely on the art/science of creating best in class brand names. They will help guide you through the company naming process based on experience (vs. popping out a list of random or free association names for you to pick from.)
Start by asking about their own company name. Is it compelling? Does it tell a story or position the firm in the industy? Does it invite further conversation? Does it allow for a marketing lexicon to further support the brand? Do they have a logo and tag line that matches and supports the name? Do they own the matching .com? In other words, are they leading by example?
Ask about similar naming projects in your industry and look for successful case studies and client testimonials. By choosing the best company naming service for your project, you greatly reduce the chance of needing a future company rebrand due to a lack of foresight into your present and future business plans. These firms know best branding practices from dealing with naming and branding challenges on a daily basis, and will create clear, compelling and consistent brand identities.
“By choosing the right naming service, you greatly reduce the chance of needing a future rebrand due to a lack of foresight into your present and future business plans.”
3. Establish a sufficient budget to get the job done
Naming a company can seem like an arbitrary business service, one open to negotiation. But like anything in business, you typically get what you pay for. Think of company naming like you would wedding photography. You can pay someone to shoot hundreds of photos with their iPhone and forward them to you. Or you can hire someone with a trained eye, the right equipment, and the best editing process to provide you with a list of winners.
Having expert help can make all the difference between a company name that simply serves as an identifier and one that tells a compelling story — one that underscores your unique talents and abilities.
With domain names selling in the tens of thousands, it’s not unreasonable to spend $10,000 to $20,000 to properly name and brand a new startup business. That would include the company name, tagline creation, brand story, trademark screening and domain name. The price range of a company naming service goes up based on the number of decision makers, the size and scale of the project, the timeline involved and the amount of vetting, testing and research. But this range represents a good figure for a consultant or solopreneur just getting into business. Comprehensive company naming services can reach into six figures for large corporations.
4. Choose a naming firm that provides you with the best brand strategy and naming criteria
In a rush to get to market, the company name can be treated as an afterthought. Without strategizing, the naming exercise devolves into creative dart tossing and looking for a “cool” company name. Business naming should not be a random exercise. For the best results, make a list of everything you want the company name to convey, the key benefits and/or differentiators that make your company unique and special. Then prioritize that list to the top three attributes. A good company naming service should be able to help you identify these key ingredients and distill them down for you.
With this list as your guide, you can collaborate to find company names that best reflect and highlight your core strengths. This will keep your naming project focused and on track. The question should always be “Does this name meet our naming criteria?” For example, does it convey the notion of rapid innovation? Or proven leadership? Or actionable insight? Narrow in on the names that jump-start the conversation around the things you do best.
“A good company naming service should be able to help you identify these key ingredients and distill them down for you.”
5. Let the company naming service do their job
If you have done your research and hired a professional naming agency, then be sure to follow their process and listen to the reason and logic behind the names. Rarely do great brand names “jump out” from the pack. Instead, they tend to build over time the more thought you give them, and you begin to see how the name could provide cohesiveness and continuity to your company. Some of the best names get overlooked in the first round or two of names, only to come back to the surface again and again. Ask, does this name meet our overall goal of (insert your branding criteria)? Cute and overly clever names can quickly become trite and tiresome, so look for names that tick all your boxes and allow for you to build a brand story and platform that will expand to suit your needs as the company grows.
Finding the best company naming service is akin to finding a great business partner. They can help you identify your cores strengths and brand message, and then craft a business name that highlights your unique story. In the end, your efforts will pay off in brand recognition, brand equity, and brand loyalty. Instead of a simple naming service, the right naming firm can become a trusted resource and advisor as you continue to develop your overall brand architecture and strategy. And when it comes to branding, that’s the name of the game.
About the author: With over twenty-five years of company naming and branding expertise, Tungsten founder Phil Davis is a marketing and advertising veteran, having personally named over 250 companies, products and services worldwide. As a sought after branding expert, Phil has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Inc.com, Businessweek, Entrepreneur, and Newsday.