You’ve got the vision, the passion, and the team. What’s left?
The name — a crucial cornerstone that can make or break your brand’s success.
Fun fact: Making your company name easier to say could add $3.75 million to its value. Simple names attract more investors. - Journal of Financial Economics
Many have asked me how to come up with a brand name without breaking the bank by hiring an agency.
Today, I’m sharing a 60-minute DIY naming exercise.
Let’s get started!
Why the name game matters
Consider your brand name as the first impression people have of your business.
It’s everywhere — from your website URL to your social media profiles.
More importantly, a name isn’t easily changeable, so it’s worth investing the time to get it right, right from the start.
And yes, you can DIY it without compromising on quality.
- The Team: Assemble a small, diverse team of 3-8 people for a creative brainstorm.
- Essentials: Stock up on sticky notes, a whiteboard (or just a blank wall), dot stickers for voting, and plain paper. If you’re remote, tools like Miro will work wonders.
- Time: Set aside 60-90 minutes.
Step 1: The foundation (10 mins)
Kick things off with a focused brief. This can be prepared in advance and presented to the team at the beginning of the session.
The brief should outline:
- What you’re offering
- Your target audience
- Historical context or backstory
- Unique selling points or brand positioning
- Brand personality
Display these key points for everyone to see; they’re your North Star for this exercise.
Step 2: Word association (10 mins)
Choose 3-5 topics from the brief. For example, if you’re creating a period tracking app, your topics might include:
- women’s health (offering)
- teenager (target audience)
- friendly (brand personality)
- doctor-recommended (unique selling points)
Write down words that come to mind for each topic. These words can be common or unconventional; the point is to generate a wide range.
For example, “women’s health” could be:
Place each word on sticky notes and post them on the wall.
PRO TIP: You can use chatGPT with prompts like, "Please recommend words related to [XXX]" for more ideas.
Step 3: First drafts (10 mins)
Give everyone a piece of paper.
In just 10 minutes, jot down 10 names without overthinking it.
Don’t aim for perfection; this exercise is about quantity over quality.
PRO TIP: Know the naming styles
Here’s a guide to different types of names that will help guide your brainstorm:
- Descriptive: Names that tell you exactly what the brand does. e.g., HomeDepot, Toys"R"Us.
- Metaphor: Names that borrow from unrelated fields to imply characteristics. e.g., Nike (Goddess of Victory), Amazon (big and wide).
- Invented: Completely made-up, yet memorable names. e.g., Kodak, Xerox.
- Wordplay: Cleverly modified or combined words. e.g., Pinterest (pin + interest), Instagram (instant + telegram).
Step 4: Cross-pollinate ideas (10 mins)
Pass your list to the person on your left.
Add 5 more names in the next 7 minutes.
Use your teammate’s ideas as inspiration for more names.
Step 5: Finalize your list (10 mins)
Repeat Step 4.
Now, each list should contain 15 names.
Take a minute to circle or highlight your top 5.
Post all the ideas on the wall for everyone to see.
Hooray! You should have TONS potential names by now.
Step 6: Voting (5 mins)
Start narrowing down the options.
Distribute 3 votes per person.
Within 3 minutes, let everyone cast their votes.
They can put all 3 votes on one name if they’re so fond of it.
Your goal is to narrow down to a hot list of 5 names.
Step 7: Pick the winner (5 mins)
This time, each person has only 1 vote to pick a winner.
And there you have it!
Naming your brand is a blend of art, science, and a bit of gut feeling.
But with this simple process, I hope you have fun and end up with a perfect brand name for your company.
Whenever you’re ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:
1. Startup Branding Quiz:
Health check your brand to identify areas for improvement and take your brand to the next level. → TAKE THE QUIZ
2. Build a Fundable Brand™ Bootcamp:
A 30-day bootcamp for first-time founders to create your very own investor-ready brand (even if you have ZERO design or marketing experience) in just 1 hour a day. → JOIN THE WAITLIST
3. Brand Perfect Unlimited: Subscribe to our friendly service plan with no proposal or scope of work required. Request unlimited designs hassle-free. → SEE PLANS