Creating a name for you new company may actually be your first foray into the world of marketing, whether you realize it or not. Your name begins the branding process of your organization and is a crucial first step towards its success. You’re setting the tone for how people will initially perceive your company. And remember the old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Everyone is bombarded with thousands of names daily. Only the really good ones are going to stick in anyone’s memory. So if you’re a start-up, you need to put some time and effort into creating a name for your company. You’ve got to hit the right chord in your market with a name that’s not too narrow, or too generic, or unpronounceable. It’s a balancing act for sure.

There are some general ways you can begin to strategically develop your naming concept. Consider these large categories to get you thinking about types of names.

Descriptive. This is the most straightforward approach/naming convention mechanism. It can just be a person’s name (works especially well if the person is well-known in the industry) or explains what you are. Think Martha Stewart or Shredded Wheat. Because we live in a digital world now, descriptive names can be tricky. If it’s overly descriptive or uses very common words/keywords it may make it hard to search and find you. Sometimes this category may be a jumping off point for further development.

Experiential/Action. This category can explain what your company does. You can use your company name as a verb. Think Xerox or Facebook. These names work best if you are an early entrant into the marketplace. While they are often intuitive, they may lack being a differentiator for you if there are already many similar products.

Evocative. These types of names invoke emotion rather than talk about function. Evocative names are a great way to connect with your audience and make a powerful brand statement. Instantly generating a feeling can work well especially for certain industries such as nonprofits, infant products or fitness enterprises.

Next, you also need an action plan for getting the process started with your team – even if it’s just a couple people. Remember you want to generate as many names as possible. Try following these actionable steps:

Step 1 Start with prompts. Put your team on a shared Google Doc and each week send them prompts to generate names. Prompts can be for compound words or portmanteaus. Ask them to think about themes like references to sports, or Greek and Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes, and so on.

Step 2 Brainstorm. Get your team together and lead a group brainstorming session. Experts suggest providing a word that is associated with your company or industry and having everyone write down related names. Try this exercise with several different words from your industry.

Step 3 Eliminate. Now start asking questions to shorten your list. Is it easy to say? Is it easy to read? Is it similar to a competitor’s name? Is it already trademarked? Can you get a domain name for it?

Step 4 Evaluate. Consider the remaining names and evaluate them with a different set of criteria. Now you need to determine if the name is short and simple and therefore, easy to remember. It needs to have just the right amount of uniqueness and convey just the right amount of meaning. Once you think you’ve hit upon the perfect name, try testing it out if possible — maybe through an online survey — just something that offers you some feedback and validation.

As detailed above, it’s a time-consuming process. Many small companies might not have a marketing team to help with this effort. There are companies that specialize in product and company name development. MMP Professionals are always available to walk you through the process and provide the name generation and analysis you need to develop the best-suited name for your company.