New and small businesses often lack the substantial budget required for global branding campaigns. In order to build awareness, credibility and trust, it therefore becomes even more important to invest time developing a distinctive, creative business name.

Naming your company, products or services without proper consideration could cause long-term issues for your business. Considering a rebrand can cost millions, take up precious time, and potentially damage customer loyalty, re-launching your venture with an unfavourable name can seriously hinder the future prospects of your business.

Here’s a breakdown of what it takes to get your business name right, the first time around.

Assemble your team

The first step to discovering the perfect business name is to ask the right people for their input.

If you’re assembling a roundtable or brainstorming session, be sure to include your marketing or creative director. Alternatively, you could consult a professional branding expert who will be able to help you build a solid marketing strategy.

You’ll also want to save a seat for a competent graphic designer. Not only can they offer an insight into the feasibility of your transforming your business name into an powerful logo, but they may also introduce a more visual way of thinking. Contributions from designers can be especially valuable to fledgling companies striving to make the best possible first impression.

For business with close client relationships, a current or former client may also be a useful addition to your brainstorming team. They know you, they know your service, and will be able to generate lots of name ideas based on their own first-hand experience or your business, and even your competitors.

Likewise, it’s useful to consult a potential customer from your target market. Ask your audience about their perceived ideas of what your business does, and what name will make them sit up and take notice.

Build a brand identity with the right tools

Back in the good ol’ days, businesses looking to discover the perfect business name would likely have a thesaurus and dictionary on hand. In the age of the internet, however, when it comes to choosing your brand name, there are a few more resources on offer.

Research keywords that are relevant to your business, as well as contemporary themes and ideas. Take advantage of online tools and build mood boards, or use business model canvas to lay out your company values and services. This will help you discern the most important aspects of your brand identity and help create a useful starting point when choosing your name.

Today, a wealth of online services await any business owner naming their company. Novanym are expert curators of brandable business names, offering businesses a complete branding package, including a choice of three intuitive logo designs and a matching .com domain.

The domain name marketplace has expanded a lot over the last few years, and you never know what you might find. Ideas from sites such as Hipster Business Names should be taken with a pinch of salt!

Although most of these online resources are useful, we still recommend adding a bit of old-school research into the mix. Try and encourage your strategy-focused brain to think creatively about this process. Dig out coloured paper, magazines, crayons and colour pencils… anything to fuel your imagination.

Do your marketing homework

If you have a handful of names in mind, be careful not to count your chickens before they hatch. If there’s a sure fire way to encounter the perils of a poor business name years down the line, it’s to neglect to conduct proper market research before you begin. There are three key questions to ask:

Is it meaningful enough?

Strictly speaking your business name doesn’t have to mean anything, but if you’re just starting out, it’s certainly a good idea to evoke an impression of the kind of service you are offering. This will help potential customers determine if they are interested in your wares, and whether or not they are prepared to put their trust in you. It can simply be a matter of allusion.

‘Google’, for example, is a play on the term ‘googol’, meaning a binary 1 followed by a hundred 0s. Inventors Larry Page and Sergey Brin chose the name to reflect the infinite capacity of the web. ‘Accenture’ similarly has no dictionary definition, but the word suggests ascent, strategy and precision, just as the company intends.

Is it future-proof?

Don’t back yourself into a corner with a restrictive or overly topical name like ‘TechnoTracksFortnightly’, that doesn’t permit your business to expand or evolve. What if you decided to operate weekly, or monthly in the future? Or want to expand into a different music genre? Choose a name that represents not only who you are now, but who you want to become.

You may also want to consider how your business name translates internationally. When business leaders came up with the name “Kodak”—a name that is totally meaningless—they got it absolutely right.

They made sure that it was easy to pronounce in every country where they’d be selling their products, and had no negative connotations in any of the languages spoken in those target countries. This linguistic research certainly saved them from embarrassment like this.

Is it unique?

They key to business success is setting yourself apart from the rest. Lush did a good job of this, carving out a niche for themselves in a beauty market packed with otherwise clinical sounding monikers. It’s also important to be unique, as not all words and names are capable of being protected as trademarks. They must not be generic or flatly descriptive, but rather suggestive (like Facebook, for example) or arbitrary.

Not every business name needs to be trademarked, but it’s important to ensure you’re not infringing anyone else’s trademarked name, as conflict can result in a legal battle in which ignorance is no defense. The competing Budweiser brands originating in the US and the Czech Republic have famously been locked in legal disputes all over the world. One useful way to check for conflicts is using an online database like Trademark Eagle.

It’s vital you start building a company with a name that you and your whole team are enthusiastic about. Your name is your first step towards a strong company identity, and it will form the cornerstone of your brand as long as you’re in business.