In the retail business, your store’s name is the foundation of your brand. Everything you do is going to be attached to that name, and when people talk about your store, they’re going to refer to it by name. Since it’s the core of your marketing efforts, your name needs to be carefully selected. Here’s how to do it.
1. Get a Small Group Together: Creativity isn’t born in a vacuum, but it generally isn’t born in a tornado of opinions either. Bring together a group of five to eight people, yourself included, to brainstorm name ideas. If you have friends who are marketers, copywriters or just plain good with language, definitely invite them. Pulling together these different perspectives will give you a better shot at picking a good name.
2. Quantity Over Quality: At least in the early stages of the process, it’s important to have as many suggestions as possible. Urge your guests to come up with names at an incredibly fast pace; five in five minutes is a good way to start. That way, instead of trying to pick the perfect name, you’ll just get a whole bunch of ideas down on paper.
3. Be Descriptive, But Not Too Descriptive: It’s fine to pick a name that describes what your store sells: groceries, electronics, pet supplies. At the same time, if the name you choose is too specific, you may have to change it or add to it as your store expands. When you change your name, you’ll lose a lot of the brand power that’s associated with that name, so plan ahead and make it as inclusive as possible.
4. Go Shorter: It’s much easier for your customers to remember a one- or two-word name than a long phrase. When in doubt, go for the shorter option, as that will help your name circulate more readily. Don’t try to sneak around this issue by using acronyms; most people won’t remember what the letters stand for.
5. Make It Easy to Say: In keeping with the idea of having your name just roll off customers’ tongues, give some thought to how easy or difficult each suggestion is to pronounce. Picking shorter names helps with this, of course. Alliteration is a great technique as well. People won’t be as likely to talk about your store if you make it physically difficult to do so.
6. Make it Memorable: This is a hard one to quantify, but your name needs to be unique enough for people to remember it easily. If you think a name sounds like just another hardware store or supermarket, scrap it and try another one. Think about the unique aspects of your business and incorporate them into the name.
7. Leave Room for Wordplay: As your store grows, you’ll have a website, a social media presence, promotional events and other marketing efforts that use your company name. Try to pick a name that creates a “theme” which you can then use for all of these things. For instance, if the word “house” or “home” appears in your store’s name, you could call different sections of your website the “kitchen,” “dining room,” “living room” and so on.
8. Be Cautious With Puns: While you want your title to leave room for wordplay, having the title itself be a play on words is a risky move. A great pun can make your name extra-memorable, but if it’s too cute or too overused, you’re in trouble. Humor is in the eye of the beholder, so run your clever name by as many people as possible to make sure it’s effective.
9. Don’t Be a Copycat: If it’s worked before, it’ll work again, right? When it comes to names, that’s wrong. Imitating another popular store’s name is a great way to sound like a cheap knock-off instead of building your own brand. It’s not easy to come up with a totally unique name, but it’s the only way to be successful.
10. Use Other Languages: Your competitors have already exhausted most of the possibilities in English, so why not expand your options? One very powerful way to come up with a unique name is to use a word from a foreign language. This does mean you’ll often find yourself explaining your name, but this is the good “huh, that’s cool” sort of explanation instead of the bad “I’m sorry our name is so confusing” kind.
11. Take Your Time: Don’t expect to find the perfect name after a single brainstorming session. Indeed, if you find a name that does sound perfect, take it with a huge grain of salt. Over the course of a few days or weeks, look through all of your suggested names, sort out your favorites, and go from there. Again, naming your store is a very important process, and rushing it will only hurt you down the road.
12. Get Feedback: Remember, the whole point of your store’s name is to appeal to customers. Once you have a few candidate names, test them out on your friends, family and neighbors to see which one they like best. Focus on your target audience to make sure your proposed name will build the kind of buzz you’re looking to build. No matter how much you like a name, if it doesn’t resonate with your customers, it’s not going to work.
13. Make Sure You Like It: Conversely, keep in mind that picking a name is not, ultimately, a democratic process. As the owner, you have the last word, and you can absolutely shoot down a proposed name just because you don’t like it. Your store’s name defines your business, and you need to make sure you’re as happy with it as anyone else.
Choosing a name for your retail store isn’t an easy process, but the rewards of doing it well are great. Take the time you need to pick out a great one, and your brand will start with a firm foundation.