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I recently went through a naming exercise for a new business; not for an employer or a client, but for myself. It was a journey of exploration filled with fear and second thoughts. The fear that I’d never find a good name, or at least a good name that was still available. And second thoughts of what if in a year, two years, a decade later I no longer liked the name? Because of my experience in the A/E/C world I started the naming process with my own name, but quickly realized my first name was taken and my last conveyed the wrong image. From there I needed a new strategy. And it’s a strategy I’m sharing with you.

It’s a simple three step process with the only prerequisite being patience.

  • Step one: brainstorm names
  • Step two: see if the URLs are available
  • Step three: start searching the web

Step one: This is the hardest step. Make a list of names that would be suitable for your business (you should be thinking of the brand you want to portray). Consult friends, family, colleagues, strangers, anyone who might have advice. Don’t be shy, the larger the list the more you’ll have to work with once you hit step two. You may also find that a name that was so so when you wrote it down grows on you in a day or two.

Step two: take your list of names and see which ones still have a URL available. You can use any domain registrar like godaddy or network solutions to do this. If the URL isn’t available, cross the name off the list. Even if you think it’s the perfect name, without the URL the name isn’t going to work for you in today’s digital age.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • You may have some room to play with the name in order to find an available URL (think theurbanstudio.com vs. urbanstudio.com). Be flexible, but keep your mind centered around the eventual people that will be searching for your company. Make sure you’re not unintentionally directing them to a competitor.
  • You’re looking for a .com URL. Others like .us, .net. .whatever are not acceptable substitutions for a .com in business, unless you’re setting up a non-profit. If that’s the case feel free to claim the .org.
  • Even if the name is taken, it may still be available. If the URL you want is taken, but inactive, send an inquiry to the person that’s sitting on it with an offer to buy it. You can find contact information through the domain registrar.

Step three: Now you have a list with potential names and accompanying URLS; it’s time to start doing internet searches. Use the major search engines and see what type of competition you’ll have for placement. If your search results in pages of similar business types with similar names you know you’ll need to do a lot of work to start placing above them in the search engines. Even if you can place above your competition, you may not be able to stand out from them. Similarly, if your search results in a flood of results that you’d rather not be associated with then you may want to move along to the next name on your list. The goal of this step is to test your name for searchability. A name that doesn’t result in a lot of search results is going to be easier for you to establish among the search engines.

After completing the three steps you’ll be left with a list of truly viable names. Choose the one you want and quickly register the domain name before someone else scoops it up. Then comes the fun part, it’s time to start creating your brand.

And if you’re curious about what I was naming click here.

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