“Build your reputation by helping other people build theirs.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo

If you were going to run a marathon, you wouldn’t do it with a knapsack full of rocks on your back, right? Yet many businesses are saddled with names that are misleading, out of date, hard to pronounce or just plain bad. That makes their marketing extra difficult. If you’ve decided that a new name is needed for your business, here are five tips to help you find a great one.

1. Start with what’s unique – Begin by making a list of the main traits you want to get across to people about your firm. Is it quality, edginess, experience, creativity? Think about what it is about you that your customers most value. When you list a range or words and word combinations, you’ll want to gravitate toward those that reflect or can connect to that particular quality.

2. Narrow down with a story – A story is a powerful way to help people connect your name to what you do. For example, in my town there is a bar called “eleven.” It seems like a pretty nondescript name until you learn they called it that because on a scale of one to ten it’s an eleven. Think about what story can help tie the names you’ve chosen to your firm’s unique quality.

3. Get reactions – Test out your top few names with a variety of audiences to see what they think. Do people make associations that tie back to your core brand identity? Do they find the name easy to say and spell? Listen for themes that crop up. If the themes connect to your desired positioning, you may have found a winner.

4. Check URL availability – A firm without an online presence is a firm with no presence these days. Nabbing a website that ends in dot com is critical to being perceived as legitimate. Visit web hosting services to see which of the names on your list are available for purchase.

5. Lock up all the URLs – Once you’ve selected your final name, don’t just buy the .com URL, make sure you lock up .net, .org, .biz and .edu. as well. Domain names usually cost less than $15 a year, and can help make sure everyone who is looking for you online can easily find you, not someone else.

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.

©2009 Barbara Wayman, BlueTree Media, LLC.

News Reporter