Hello! My name is Laura Budzyna. I’m an independent evaluation consultant, and I -just- named my business – Beyond Measure LLC – a few weeks ago.
I also happen to love names – human names, that is. I’ve been lucky enough to name one human, and I’ve helped friends name a handful of others. My favorite online community (aside from AEA, of course) is the cadre of fellow name nerds that convene on Nameberry.
On my journey to name my LLC, I found that naming a business is not all that different from naming a person. After all, you’re bringing something new into the world, something imbued with your hopes and dreams, but with an identity of its own. Why shouldn’t we approach both naming processes with the same spirit?
Now, this is -not- branding guidance: I don’t have the expertise to tell you which names will play well in focus groups or get you the most hits on Google. There are practical concerns, too (Is the domain name available? Will people be able to spell it?) but let’s ignore those for now.
My advice is based, instead, on the creativity and wisdom of name lovers.
Define your style
First, ask yourself: what’s your naming style? In other words, what sentiment would you like to evoke with your business name? Just like traditional Elizabeth vs. whimsical Eloise, a name like Compass Consulting gives off a very different vibe than Willow Tree Evaluation. To my ear, the former feels streamlined and businesslike, the latter suggests a gentler human touch. Both are perfectly valid.
Look for inspiration
Just like with human names, you can find inspiration everywhere: books, music, places you’ve visited, nature, people you admire, your family tree. I pulled phrases from lyrics and poems (Dot by Dot, Rudder and Sail). I brainstormed words that convey light (Aurora, Alpenglow), guidance (Lodestar, Peregrine) and joy (Allegro, Uplift).
I also listed other business names that I love – names like A Good Question, We All Count, and 60 Decibels – and noted the characteristics they have in common. This helped me realize I like names that use evocative phrases and spark curiosity.
Take it for a test drive
Once you narrow down your list, give each name a trial run. Name nerds recommend the Starbucks trick: when the barista asks for your name, tell them the name you’re considering instead. Notice how it feels to say it out loud. See it written on your coffee cup. Hear someone call it to a room of people. By bringing a name to life, it can suddenly become clear whether it’s the one.
Is there a low-stakes situation where you can “try on” a business name? Maybe you can rename yourself in a Zoom webinar, or use it in your email signature for a non-work message. You could poll friends on social media; regardless of the results, just putting options in front of people can help clarify which one you like most. For me, the clincher was when I said a few names aloud in an IC Mastermind meetup – one just suddenly felt right.
Choose the name you love
In the end, go with your gut. It’s your business, and the name will be the one in your email signature, on your business card, and under your logo. It’s a representation of your bold choice to build something new, and it’s how you’re expressing that something to the world.
Every time someone says, “Oh, I love that name!” – about my daughter -or- my LLC – it warms my heart. But what’s even more important is that I love it, too.
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