How to Name Your Small Business

Business

One question I get a lot is how did I come up with the name Vanilla & Oak for my design studio. From the beginning, I knew  that I didn’t want to use my own name to start my business.

I connected my name Chanel too closely with the already well-renowned clothing brand and I didn’t want others to associate it that way too. 

So knowing I wasn’t going to use Chanel, I had to come up with a way to choose a business name that spoke and reflected directly how I wanted my business to look and feel, and also attract others that connected with the same vibe I did. 

Below is the exact process that worked for me in creating the name Vanilla & Oak Design Studio for my branding and design business.

So if you’re trying to figure out how to name your business, here are a few steps to help you get you started:

Make a Moodboard

As soon as I decided that I wasn’t going to use my name, the first thing I did was put together a board on Pinterest of how I wanted my design studio to look and feel. 

When creating your own moodboard to name your business, pin any images that catch your attention, evokes an emotion, or just that you simply like, even if it has nothing to do with what your business offers.  

It can sometimes help to write captions on each pin as to why you pinned it (so you remember later!)

If you’re familiar with any design programs (Photoshop, Illustrator, Canva, etc.), you can take this a step further and create an actual moodboard. 

If you’re not a designer, do not fret, simply just take a screenshot of your Pinterest board.

Write Down Descriptive Words

After pinning to your heart’s desire, start to keep a running list in the notes app in your phone of any words that come to mind when you look at your moodboard. 

Also, you can make note of the captions of what the original pinner wrote. Are there any descriptive words they used that you connect with? 

For me, this was the longest part of the process. I recommend re-visiting your moodboard and word list every day to see if any new thoughts or feelings come to mind. 

Don’t be afraid to go back and tidy up or delete any images that you no longer connect with, or just don’t fit the vibe you’re going for. 

Why Did You Choose Those Words?

Now that you’ve got your list of words, choose a few that stand out the most to you (I recommend 3-5), or resonate the most with how you want your business to look, feel, or sound like. 

From those chosen words, write out WHY you chose them. 

For example, I chose Vanilla because of it’s classically timeless, warm, smooth, creamy and sweet. I take a lot of inspiration from interior design, and the word Vanilla kept popping back into my brain when looking at images of my favorite spaces. 

And I chose Oak because it gives off an earthy, grounded vibe; I love the mountains and the outdoors, and sturdy/dependable feeling, which is how I want clients to feel when working with me. 

Put Them Together 

So now you have the why behind the chosen words that connect directly to the why behind your business look and vibe, start putting them together to see how they look on paper, and sound like out loud. 

Keep these questions in mind: 

  • How does it roll off the tongue? 
  • Is the name too long? 
  • Is it easy to spell?
  • Are these options unique or sound kind of like something else you know? 
  • Is it easy to remember, or easy to forget? 

This is where I really saw the magic happen in naming my business. Some words came to mind I originally hadn’t thought of, when starting to mix, match, and pair things together. 

My best advice at this stage is don’t jump right away if you’re not sure. Sit with the options for a few days, and see what name you just can’t get out of your head, that makes you excited to share with the rest of the world. 

Check Domain Names and Social Handles

And for the final and most crucial step! Checking that your business name hasn’t already been taken. Nothing is worse than settling on the PERFECT name, to find out someone else has thought of it before you. 

First, go to Instagram and search for your new business name to see if it’s available. If it is available, then go to Google Domains and make sure the domain is also available.

But don’t panic if it’s already taken! Revisit your word list and your why descriptions, use a thesaurus if needed, and keep working those words and feelings to see how you can stay on track with your overall business vibe, but still be different. 

After all, we want your business to be authentically you, to be different, and to stand out from the crowd. 

I hope my process of naming your business helps you decide on the perfect name! And please share with me if this worked for you, I would love to hear the story behind your business name! 

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