Does a Rose Smell as Sweet By Any Other Name?: Find the Perfect Name for Your Business

February 20, 2014 Updated: April 24, 2016

Anyone who has read, watched or listened to William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet is familiar with Juliet’s famous quote: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” in which she debates whether to fall for Romeo a sworn family enemy. Taking this advice into the branding world, one must wonder. Would Startbucks have been as successful if they had named themselves something different? Probably not and the same is true for countless amounts of other companies. Below some tips on how to find the best name so your company can smell the sweet essence of success…oh and roses too of course.


Not A Description. The first instinct we have when naming a business is the need to have the name describe what our business is about. Stay clear of this! Truth is, obscure names often are more successful than others by standing out from the competition i.e. Starbucks, Google, Apple, Go Daddy etc. None of these company’s names describe what their businesses do or how well they do it and yet they are all leaders in their respective industries. Don’t box yourself in and assume that just because your bakery makes cupcakes you need to have the word “sweet” in there somewhere.


Go Back To Square One. People most strongly identify with brands that evoke strong emotions. So, think back to the day you started your business. What motivated you to start your business? What do you hope to achieve? What solutions are you bringing that you feel the world is lacking? And, what makes you so perfect for delivering this solution? Write this all down and get to the core of Why. Because, in the end, there is a huge difference between a card company who started their business because they knew everyone needs business cards and they could make a lot of money and a card company who wanted to help business owners and employees better express their passion for their work one business card at a time. Get the message?


Brainstorm. Once you have gotten to the core of why you do what you do, start thinking of some word associations that go along with the benefit or emotion you are trying to evoke. Get a piece of paper and write names for 10 minutes straight without stopping. None of these names will be very good but you want to start generating an idea for what you want your name to symbolize. Pick your favorite 5 from the list and generate again for another 10 minutes.  Keep repeating this until you have a solid list of 7-10 names you feel confident about.


Feedback Time.  Send an email to close friends & family to ask for feedback. Word of caution: don’t just stick the names in the email and ask them to pick their favorite. Write a short blurb on your business and the emotional connection you are trying to make. Then, list your names. Ask your recipients for feedback & suggestions and let them know it’s okay to be brutally honest. Most people will not share their honest opinion unless they know you won’t be personally offended.


Build & Finalize.  Wait for feedback to trickle in so you know which direction to take. Normally, you’ll probably get additional ideas during this time and remember to write these down as well. Sift through the names and start eliminating the ones that don’t feel right to you. Once all your feedback is back, generate new titles based off of the advice you were given and create a final list of names. Then, test them out. Start saying the names out loud or have a friend call you and answer the phone with your business name i.e. “Epoch Times how can I help you…”. See which one feels right to you. In the end, you need a name that is pronounceable, easy to remember and to spell and doesn’t have any negative associations. Branding can help make sure the rest of your business smells as sweet as roses.