Shakespeare wrote “What is in a name?” Well if you’re naming a business, it feels like everything is in a name. Brand strategist Miya Hirabayashi (N.Y. ’02) is here to help you avoid a naming faux pas (bye-bye acronyms) and land the perfect name.
February 27, 2019
You’ve finally realized your dream and started your own business or social enterprise. Now you just have to come up with a perfect name that will solidify your success. Right? “People get really stuck on names. They think if they just get the name or logo right, then everything else will fall into place,” says Miya Hirabayashi (N.Y. ’02), a San Francisco art director and brand strategist. Not quite. First, nail down exactly what you provide, to whom, and why, she says. When you get that hard work done, the naming should flow more naturally.
Here are Hirabayashi’s tips:
- Keep it simple, memorable, and easy to spell.
- Say it out loud, early, and often. Make sure it’s not a mouthful, and that it sounds pleasing.
- The world has seen enough acronyms. Abbreviate if you must (ahem, TFA), but don’t force a string of words to form another word. “I am sure there is an exception to ‘Don’t use an acronym,’” she says, “but I can’t think of it at the moment.”
- Check to see if your name’s web domain is taken, then check www.uspto.gov to see if it’s already trademarked.
- Check social media for the handles you’ll want to use. There are always workarounds if your desired handle or domain name is taken, but you don’t want to choose a name that’s too easily tied to off-brand or inappropriate content.
- Test it out. Seek out a large and diverse group of friends and advisors. What do they think when they hear the name you’re considering? Can they think of any negative connotations? Do they like how it sounds?
Once your name has passed these tests, get down to the real work. Names “support the promise you are making, but they themselves are not the promise,” Hirabayashi says. “So much of the brand is in the actual product.”
Hirabayashi’s work has been featured on Oprah.com and the Martha Stewart blog. She has worked on brand strategy for Spanx, Dagne Dover handbags, Joe Fresh, and Under Armour Women. She is a co-founder of the creative studio You+ Me.
Illustration by Elan Harris.
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