It's all in the name

Over the years in the IT business, I've had the opportunity to be part of creating new things like companies, products and services etc. One thing that these have in common is that they have to have a name. Names like Develore, Aspect, Sensobar, Secreteer, Attrackt, Digioma, Chosense, Bizkit and Bisnest are all names that I've somehow been a part of in the creation process.

Good names are hard to find

A name must preferably be easy to remember and catchy, and it definitely should try to avoid offending someone, as many car companies for instance have learned the hard way. In addition, the name practically must be available as a domain too, optimally as a .com domain, but that is getting harder and harder, since it seems that any name you come up with that somehow means something, is already taken at least as a .com domain. You should also try to ensure that nobody else is already using that name, at least not in the field of business that you are going for.

Is the name available as a domain?

The easiest thing is of course to check the domain availability. You do that with a domain registrar like GoDaddy for instance. If a domain that you are looking for is not available, a registrar usually suggest other domains that are similar to the one you are looking for, but changing for instance the .com to .net, or by slightly changing the word or words in your domain. They naturally want to sell you whatever they can. Remember, you need to perform all the other checks before you actually go ahead and buy the domain and other related services such as SSL certificates etc., just so that you don't throw away your money. Of course, you can always get the domain first so that nobody else can get it, since generally, domains are pretty cheap, but of course there are exceptions to that as well.

Is someone else already using the name?

Next you need to check that nobody else is using the name you are thinking of, at least not for similar products and / or services that you intend to use the name for. This is a notch trickier than checking the domain, but "your favourite search engine" is your friend here. This is something that we've forgotten much about too many times. As you might have noticed, we've changed the name of our product to Bisnest, but we used to call it Bizkit. A simple search for "bizkit" and "crm" would have immediately shown us that someone else has already thought of naming their CRM "Bizkit". We even went ahead and spent some money on the domain and an SSL certificate to go with the domain. Not much, but still it sucks to throw away money. So remember, at least use a search engine to search for the name and the type of product / service you are building.

Can your name be offensive to somebody?

The hardest of these is by far trying to avoid offending somebody somewhere in the world, especially if your company or product is intended for the global market, which many of the names mentioned above were and some still are. It is practically impossible to do that. As you may have noticed from the names above, we usually like to create names using English words that we twist a little to create multiple layers of meanings. There are even online tools that help you with this a little bit. The one that we find ourselves using over and over again is wordoid.com, which automatically also shows you whether the name is available as a .com and .net domain.

How does your name sound?

A very important aspect (pun intended) of a name is that is has to "sound cool" and easily roll over your tongue. You want to have people talk about your name, because word of mouth marketing is pretty cost-effective. When spoken out loud, does your name have a natural melody or rhythm to it, which almost puts it on instant repeat in peoples' heads and becomes almost like an earworm?

To make a good sounding name, thus making it easier to remember, you can turn to poetry and make use of literary consonance and alliteration. Many musicians use these too when coming up with names for their songs, so go ahead and try it. It's fun.

You could also come up with a nickname right from the get go, and launch that together with your name. This is just to make people become "friends" with your company, product or service so that they are more likely to stick with it. This is what we've done with Bisnest by also launching its nickname "The Nest", which in fact was something that we just found ourselves talking about more and more, almost accidentally. Names that just hit you without too much effort are usually the best ones.

The story behind the name

Finally, you should create a short story behind the name. It does not matter whether you come up with the story first or the name first, but you really should try to come up with a story. It does not have to be a novel, but just a few sentences describing the rationale behind your name. The story is also a very good way of safeguarding you against any offensive meaning that your name may have in a certain part of the word.

Sometimes you may find it very hard to come up with a good story for a name that you already have, and that supports your product / service. Then, maybe your name is not good then, because you want to avoid ending up with fake story for an otherwise good name. Then you just have to come up with a new name.

So, what's the story behind Bisnest then? Obviously, it is derived from the words "business" and "nest", that we've played around with a little. It is the name of a CRM cloud service that we offer to businesses. We focus on small businesses that may be in their early ages, or otherwise in the need for a secure, warm and comfortable nest to grow in and build their business before taking off into the big bad world.

And just for the record, we first came up with the name first, and then we created to story to match the name and what Bisnest is all about.

So, what's your name? Tell us by signing up for our newsletter below or by joining our limited free beta.

Mika Berglund