6 Winning Strategies for Brainstorming Business Names

brainstorm Deciding upon your business name is challenging. Not only must it convey what you do, it should be memorable and differentiate your business from competitors while convincing consumers to believe in you. Plus, it has to be something that isn't already taken.

No pressure there, right?

Although the "not already taken" rule is important, keep in mind that you have many more naming options today, especially since you're no longer limited to attaching 'dot-com' (.com) to the end of your domain name -- a digital prerequisite for any modern-day business. Hundreds of new "not-com" options have entered the domain namespace, allowing you much greater creativity than you would have had just a few years ago, when such options weren't as plentiful.

While you can breathe easier when it comes to choosing the business domain name, back to your company name: It should also be easy to pronounce and spell. You don't want to miss out on business just because people can't figure out which spelling to type into their search engine or how to pronounce the name of a product when searching for it in a store. Finally, the name of your business should be something you love, because you will spend a lot of time with it.

Here are six strategies for brainstorming your perfect business name.

1. Start with low-tech tools

You may be able to come up with a name using a pen, paper and thesaurus. A thesaurus can be used to find synonyms for descriptors of your brand, which can lead you to a name. Many industries have their own lingo, and if you can find a glossary of terms used in your industry, bring that to the brainstorming session too. To start, grab your supplies and set a timer for five minutes. Then write down every name idea you have -- good, bad, or indifferent. Sure, you'll write down some ridiculous names, but you might write down some absolute gems, too. Save judgment for after that timer goes off.

2. Try "Googlestorming"

The possibilities for "Googlestorming" are nearly infinite, and it's OK to go off on tangents during the process. Not only can you search on terms you might want to include in your brand name, you can search from other angles, as well. Suppose your company makes comfortable baby clothes. You could search on something like "softest animal." Once you get your answer (which, according to Google, is the chinchilla), you can search on stock photos and blogs to branch out further. Words you arrive at from Googlestorming may be quite different from the words you type into your search engine, but that's OK -- those words could lead you down the path to the perfect name.

3. Work with outsiders, as well as insiders

A good size for a brainstorming team is five to eight individuals. It's good to have both product insiders and outsiders. "Outsiders" could include artists, retirees, students or anyone with creative tendencies. Outside perspectives can give your team a new way to look at your product -- a point of view that may be closer to how "the market" perceives your brand. Share ideas with them, but try not to pressure them to come up with the "right" name. The right name could come from anywhere, and a range of perspectives can keep ideas from being too safe and stale.

Brainstorming business names

4. Use worksheets to help direct your efforts

If you find the idea of a blank sheet of paper and pen too intimidating, don't worry. There are actually worksheets you can download and print that will guide you through the brainstorming process. These can be terrific if you don't know where to start. You can also get people on the naming team to fill in worksheets before the brainstorming session to get those creative juices flowing. Worksheets provide structure and a platform on which to build creative ideas.

5. Online name generator tools

Name.Kitchen editors have curated a selection of online naming tools that can help inspire new ideas. Play around with tools such as Word Mixer (mashes up your favorite keywords), Yossarian Lives (produces a visual montage based on keywords) and Your.Domains (produces imaginative domain name options based on keywords) -- and see what names emerge, ones you may have never imagined possible.

5. Let your idea rest for a while

Once you choose a brand name, it's a good idea to sleep on it before committing to it. Sometimes what seems perfect in the fever of a brainstorming session isn't so perfect in the cold light of day. Your brand name is an essential business element, and changing it can negatively affect business, so you want to get it right and stick with it. Letting your idea sit overnight and then approaching it fresh can let you know that yes, this is the right name, or no, perhaps going back to the drawing board is in order.


There's no one-size-fits-all formula for creating a business name, and multiple brainstorming techniques may be needed before you discover that perfect name. Name.Kitchen editors encourage a 360-degree approach when brainstorming a meaningful and clever business name -- and to think outside of 'dot-com' box. The key is to keep an open mind, and to devote time to the process. There's nothing worse than settling on a name that doesn't inspire and motivate you, the entrepreneur tasked with building the business. Because if you're not excited about it, how do you expect others to rally around it?