Everything has been done before – How to name/rename your business.

'Don't try to be original. Just try to be good' - Paul Rand

Naming your business has been likened to naming a child; your either have a name in mind from day one and that becomes the name, or, you spend months looking at everything in sight to get inspiration. If you don't have a name in mind, how do you choose one? What should it be? More importantly, what shouldn't it be?

Having just recently rebranded and renamed my business I must admit I found it difficult to find a name. Part of this was the pressure I put upon myself to be original and unique. I came to discover that originality can be near impossible, especially when it comes to naming your own design studio - it appears many designer types tend to think the same way. 

I trawled Google, flicked through design books, read song lyrics, listed things that mean something to me, and looked at every word, on every item I walked past, drove past or cycled past. It became consuming. This lasted weeks. Many eureka moments came and went. 'Got it!' No, gone. 'Yes!' Gone. 'No one can have thought of this one!' Ahhh, gone too. In short, originality is not easy. Obscurity can be the key to originality. i.e. combining random words, making words up or using words misspelt. 

Stylografik is what I decided upon. Why? Stylo is a song I love, having worked as a DJ for many years I felt this word represented my past – but as a solo word, it didn't feel complete. The first name that came to me for the studio was 'Grafik'. Grafik – German for graphic – is a word I have loved since I first seen an issue of Neue Grafik (an iconic graphic design magazine from the 50's and 60's) in my university's library. Neue Grafik captured my imagination – I love the modernist aesthetic – back then this magazine seemed to summarise everything I wanted to be as a designer. However, I couldn't call my design business the same name as something so iconic from the field of graphic design, so, I combined both words to create Stylografik.

The biggest stroke of luck, the .COM was available. Although this isn't as important as it used to be, getting hold of that domain name definitely help make up my mind. The word 'stylografik' looked right on paper and on screen, as did the domain. Originality becomes less important when your gut tells you the name is right. 

When choosing a business name it is thoroughly important to get other people involved. My studio has helped numerous businesses pick a name, often quite easily. The moral here being, when you are removed from the project it is much easier to gain clarity and define choice. Other people will generally be brutally honest too – unless it's your mum or your granny.  

Some tips for choosing a new business name:

  1. Songs Titles & Lyrics - I often look at lyrics when thinking of a tag line for a branding project or when trying to suggest a new business name for a clients. Don't be obvious though. 
  2. Thesaurus/Dictionary - the book type, not the digital type. If there's a word you like but aren't sure about, try find other words associated with it. Flicking through a dictionary is a great way to find new words. 
  3. Google Translate - if it suits your business, translate a word you like into another language. I often use Google translate (and a few Danish friends) to create brand captions for Kaffe O (a Nordic inspired coffee chain from Northern Ireland). 
  4. Brainstorm - obvious but always the best way to do it. Paper, pen and Google. Put everything you can think of - relevant to your business - onto a large sheet. Then begin combining words to create new words and phrases - think of businesses like Air Bnb, Pinterest and Funky Pigeon. Obscure combinations will also make finding an available domain much easier.
  5. Don't try to be original, just try to be good. Being obscure just be original can often be the wrong thing to do. When I look back now, many iterations of names pre-Stylografik were ridiculous. However, it's important to put the rubbish ones out there so the great ones shine through. 

Always check for the availability of domains too (www.godaddy.com) is easy to use). Be aware that calling your business a one word name like Stereo, Create or Taste, will mean you won't get the domain (www.taste.com for example, will be gone) - these domains were either bought up early by another business with that name, or by crafty (and clever) individuals who then sell them on for vast sums. Be clever and use domains like www.wearetaste.com or www.thisistaste.com instead, these will be more readily available. Is a .COM necessary? Not really, there are loads of interesting domains available now such as .DESIGN, .HEALTHCARE and .MARKETING. Get creative with your domain name and it could become a major marketing tool - e.g. www.graphic.design.

Originality when it comes to choosing a business name can be difficult. The lesson I learnt was that instead of trying to be too clever, choose a name that is right for you and your business, and make sure if someone else happens to also have that name (highly likely) that they don't operate near you, and also aren't global leaders in your industry. 

Try to be good, rather than original – and make sure to check that your name isn't trademarked/registered! 

Need help naming your business? Get in touch for a chat.

Paul McNally