11 Steps to a Business Name that Will Make You Memorable
Stand Out in a Sea of Freelancers with a Memorable Business Name
Want clients and colleagues to remember you—and think of you first for freelance work? Create a business name. Most freelancers use their personal names. So if you create a business name, you’ll stand out.
Along with helping you stand out in a sea of freelancers, having a memorable business name also makes you look:
- More professional
- Well-established, which is especially helpful if you’re a new or newer freelancer.
So why don’t more freelancers have business names?
If you’re like most freelancers, you didn’t know much about running a business when you started freelancing. And maybe you:
- Saw that other freelancers use their own names and thought that was normal.
- Didn’t know how to choose a business name.
- Didn’t know how much a business name could help you boost your business.
It’s never too late to create a business name—even if you’ve been freelancing for years. If you’re just starting out in freelancing, having a business name will help you succeed faster.
Here are 11 steps to creating a memorable business name, which is part of your freelance brand.
1. Take Your Time
Creative processes like choosing a business name take time. “There’s no set amount of time it should take for you to settle on a name for your company, but know that it could take six months of iterating before you make a final decision,” says Graham Winfrey in “How to Name Your Business: 10 Things You Need to Know.”
Naming a freelance business shouldn’t take six months, but you do need to come up with ideas, think about them, test them, and repeat this process until your business name is just right. Expect to spend about 3 to 6 weeks doing this.
2. Appeal to Your Ideal Clients
Choose a business name that will appeal to clients. It doesn’t have to be—and probably won’t be—unique.
My business name is:
Lori De Milto Writer for Rent LLC
This name immediately gives clients a key benefit of working with me: they can hire me only when they need freelance help.
You can include your personal name, like I did. But your personal name alone isn’t memorable.
3. Say What You Do
Include the type of freelancing you do in your business name (e.g., writing, editing, graphic design, web design, or photography). The “Writer” in “Writer for Rent” clearly identifies what I do.
If you want to be a bit abstract, for example, using “Studio” instead of “graphic design,” then develop a tagline that explicitly says what you do (see Step 9). “The more your name communicates to consumers about your business, the less effort you must exert to explain it,” say Entrepreneur staff in How To Name a Business.
At the same time, try not to be too narrow if you’re thinking about expanding your services later.
4. Be Clear and if Possible, Clever
Clarity is key, but a clever name is optional. If you can think of a clever name that appeals to your ideal clients and is clear, that’s great. Being clear is far more important than being clever. If you can’t come up with a clever name after going through the steps listed here, don’t worry about it. A name that focuses on your ideal clients and says what you do is memorable enough.
Use real words or phrases. Don’t chose something so obscure that people won’t know what it means or how to spell or say it.
5. Get Inspired by Other Freelancers
Look at the business names of other freelancers in your field. Find them through your professional association member directories and LinkedIn groups.
Studying other freelancers’ websites and LinkedIn profiles will spark ideas. Take notes about what you like and don’t like. But don’t copy their names. And beware of bad business names by other freelancers.
6. Brainstorm a List of Business Name Ideas
Start thinking about possible names for your freelance business. Write them down. Many experts recommend using a pen and paper for this type of work, but you can type them if you prefer.
Use a thesaurus to find synonyms for the words and phrases you’ve identified. Combine words and phrases in different ways and see how they look and sound together.
Don’t worry about being unique. Just choose a name that’s different enough from other freelance businesses that you can get the domain name (see Step 8).
Set your list aside. Over the next few days or weeks, brainstorm ideas as you do other things away from your desk. Some of your best ideas will probably come to you when you’re not actively thinking about a business name. For example, I get lots of ideas when I’m showering, and keep a notepad and pen by the bathroom.
Continue to write your ideas down. Review and refine your list again.
7. Get Feedback from Colleagues and Maybe Clients Too
“Once you have a shortlist of names you like, it’s a good idea to see how other people respond to each one,” says Winfrey.
Ask other freelancers who do great marketing and other colleagues what they think of your ideas. Ask them which they like best and why. If you have clients you know well, ask them for their opinion too.
You can do this quickly and easily through SurveyMonkey with a free account. Ask people to rank their top 5 choices.
8. Make Sure the Business Name is Available
Narrow your list down to the 5 or 10 best names. Do a Google search to see if any other business is using these names. If you include your name, it’s unlikely the business name will be taken.
Also do a search to make sure the domain name is available. You can do this on the WHOIS database of domain names. You may want to only include part of your name in your domain name, like I did. My domain name is “writerforrent.net.”
If the domain name you want isn’t available, cross that name off of your list or modify it. As soon as you’ve gotten final feedback from colleagues (see Step 10) and chosen your business name, buy the domain name.
9. Boost Your Impact with a Tagline
A business name can’t tell your whole story. Choose 3 to 5 of your best ideas and develop taglines for each.
A tagline explains more about what you do and why clients should hire you. It’s a memorable phrase or sentence that captures the essence of your business and how it’s different than competitors, or can be positioned as different.
My tagline is:
“Targeted content. On time. Every time.”
This tells clients that I deliver what they need when they need it.
The tagline goes below or near your business name (depending on how you implement your name graphically and use it in a logo). Here’s how my tagline is implemented as part of my logo:
Here’s how my logo and tagline look on my website. I only use part of my tagline (Targeted medical content) on my website logo because the space in the upper left-hand corner isn’t big enough for the entire tagline to be legible. I use the full tagline on my email signature, business cards, and other marketing materials.
Kathleen Labonge also has a great business name: Write Point Editing Solutions.
Her tagline is:
“I focus on the details so you don’t have to.”
And that’s exactly what clients want an editor to do for them!
Depending on how similar or different your 3 to 5 best names are, you may find that one tagline works for all of them or you may need separate taglines for each name.
10. Get Feedback on Your Business Name Ideas, Again
Take the best name and tagline combinations and get feedback again. Ask other freelancers, other colleagues, and well-known clients what they think. Then choose your business name.
11. Use Your Business Name and Tagline on All Marketing
Start using your business name and tagline on your email signature, business cards, website, LinkedIn and other social media profiles, and all other marketing you do.
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Learn More About Creating a Memorable Freelance Business Name
Mighty Marketer Content
Entrepreneur Staff, “How to Name a Business”
Graham Winfrey, “How to Name Your Business: 10 Things You Need to Know”
U..S. Small Business Administration, “Choose Your Business Name”
NOLO, “Your Business Name”