THE BLOG
07/25/2013 03:42 pm ET | Updated Sep 24, 2013

10 Rules of Thumb for Naming a Business

It's been a busy week across the pond -- on Monday, July 22, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, welcomed a royal baby boy into the world. Upon arrival, and particularly on Tuesday July 23 when the couple first stepped out of St. Mary's Hospital with the newborn in tow, the world was satisfied in now knowing the sex of the baby. But what about the name? After all, this is a baby that despite being two days old is third-in-line to the throne and upon arrival, is also expected to boost Britain's economy by nearly 240 million pounds in baby-related product sales -- the equivalent of almost $400 million in USD.

Bets were made and while names including Philip, James, George, and Alexander all ranked high on the guessing list, the final name was revealed as George Alexander Louis. Named for his great great grandfather George VI, the new name ensures he will become a future King George VII.

Royalty aside, undoubtedly there was a great deal of care and consideration that went into deciding on the name for the royal baby -- especially one that will be a commercial success with collectibles commemorating the event and tourist arrivals. In a similar thread is how a business decides on its own name. With a reported 252 million domain names currently registered online, start-ups at this point have names featuring every misspelling, mashup, hyphen, and underscore under the sun possible to set them apart from competitors. But is this even recommended for a business? And what's to say that the first name out of the gate doesn't get changed a few months later? Before you get in too deep on the details of how to name your business, keep the following tried and true tips in mind.

1) First off, conduct a business name search.

Maybe you have a name for your company in mind that is so secret (and amazing) you're afraid to tell everyone lest somebody else beats you to the punch in using it. Or worse, if you decide to go ahead and use the name and it turns out similar names are out there like it and you're up in arms on a trademark infringement case. Conduct a business name check first and then reserve the name online if it's available before you begin the incorporation process.

2) Name needs to be meaningful and memorable.

As stated by the Wall Street Journal, businesses face the challenge of creating names that carry meaning, are memorable, and aren't "alphabet soup" George Louis Alexander has a name full of meaning with the first name from his great great grandfather and "Louis" from Prince Philip's uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten. Keep in mind what your business offers and tie that in as specifically as possible whenever you can.

3) The shorter the better.

Keep the name of your business short and easy to spell. No muss, no fuss, and definitely makes it easier to claim a website address or URL that way too.

4) Skip nods to pop culture.

And while we're here, avoid Internet memes too. Sweet Brown's "Ain't nobody got time for that!" catchphrase is tired, to say the least.

5) Tell your business like it is.

One of my favorite company name game stories is the story behind Virgin and how Richard Branson (circa age 20) and his team came up with the name because a team member chimed in, "What about Virgin? We're complete virgins at business." When in doubt, consider the core of what your business does and stick to that core, rather than trying to cover it up with something fancier or more stately but ultimately confusing.

6) Keep alliteration in mind.

Lululemon, TED Talks, Coca-Cola, and hey, even Kim Kardashian -- all brands (and people) that exercise the use of alliteration well and stake out a place in our memory banks while they're at it.

7) When in doubt, make it up.

See: Haagen-Dazs here, believe it or not! Go for unique and original as much as you possibly can.

8) Don't Alienate 'Em.

Steve Jobs began working on a line of personal computers in the 1970s during a time when computers were hardly for everyone and too huge and seemingly complicated to figure out. "Apple" came about as a means to attract people from all walks of life - universally inviting all around. Don't try to complicate the name of your business or you might wind up alienating some of your audience.

9) Grab your social media spots.

Along with the URL for the business name, you'll want to check and make sure there are places on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr (at the minimum) to claim early on.

10) Changing names? Do it with a purpose.

In an effort to avoid being seen as another "box" like Dropbox, YouSendIt recently switched over to "Hightail" as their new brand name of choice. When deciding on switching names for your business, lead by example and avoid following any crowd you might be seen too closely following. And when further in doubt, seek divine mythology intervention to guide you -- Blue Ribbon Sports sought out the Greek winged goddess of victory when it came to switching over their now infamous name, Nike.