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Why Audience Testing is an Essential Part of the Business Naming Process

After devoting hours of your time and resources to coming up with every possible name for your business, you have finally found the perfect business name. Or, at least you thought it was the perfect business name before you started doubting yourself.

When coming up with a name for your start-up, you need to think about more than what you think of the name. It is a good sign if you like the name you came up with, and it is an even better sign if your partner or team likes it. But the most important group that needs to approve of your business name is your target audience. If your target customer likes your name that means they will likely purchase your products or pay for your services and will help your business grow.

If your new company name does not create enough word of mouth and interest with your target market, all of the time and effort you dedicated to coming up with a great business name will have been in vain. Our proven approach to naming a business will help you get the most out of the hours or even days you dedicate to selecting a name for your business.

Come up with a bunch of great names

When starting the naming process, it is a good idea to put yourself in a creative space. This first step is when you have to be the most creative. Start by writing down each and every business name suggestion you can think of for your start-up. Don’t worry about judging if the names are good or not, just write down everything you can think of.

While brainstorming names, remember that the best names are simple for your clients or customers to say, spell, and remember. During this process, it is important to do a quick Internet search to make sure all of the names you had come up with have an available URL. This will keep you from falling in love with the name later in the process and then realizing that the domain is way out of your budget or already taken.

Create a shortlist

After you have looked at many different names that you think would be successful for your business, you can start crossing names you don’t think will work for your specific start-up. The point of this exercise is to cut down your names options. Then, at the end of the exercise, you will have just five or six of your top name possibilities left.

Consider not only what you think is a good fit, but who you are trying to appeal to. Millennials may not gravitate towards a classic, preeminent name the way previous generations would.

Get feedback from your target demographic

Once you have put together the perfect shortlist of a handful of your top names, it is the perfect time to begin your audience testing. You can define your target customer profile based on their gender, age, and location. Be sure that when you write your audience interview questions that you write them in a manner that allows them to make a relevant decision on which name will work best. Every question you ask about your possible name options, make sure the context is specifically about your start-up. Be sure to slow your target customer down when you’re interviewing them so they have to think about each question. They should have to stop to think about your question while considering your business name in the context of your brand.

Here are some examples of what your target audience questions should look like:

  • Which one of these finance apps are you most interested in learning more about?
  • Which one of these vacation housing websites are you most likely to recommend?

These questions are effective because they make your brand’s target market slow down and think about your start-up in context.

In addition, you can ask questions that are about value and benefit propositions. Here are two great examples of these type of questions:

  • Which one of these names would be the perfect fit for a toothpaste company focused on lifestyle and teeth whitening? (Crest)
  • Which of these jewelry names do you feel most embodies the most prestige and trust?

Also, be sure you ask your test audience questions about dissimilar name options. If you offer two very similar names like “Petro” and “Peto” will make your results biased if only one of these options was available, the people who voted for “Petro” may have preferred “Peto”.

Analyze your results

Finally, it is time to examine the results of your audience testing and choose the name that was the most successful with your audience. The result of the audience testing might surprise you! It is very common, in the thousands of name tests we have done with our customers, we notice that the client’s perfect name will often perform terribly with their audience. This is why the audience testing process is so crucial for the naming process.

There are many different name testing methods that can get you close to the perfect name but there isn’t one singular method that will give you a precise answer on whether or not your start-up name will succeed. The audience testing process simply adds to your overall validation process. Audience testing can also help you avoid cringey or embarrassing brand name ideas. The valuable feedback can help you decide which is your strongest name option to move forward with.

Audience testing is not a perfect process, but it is a good method to see how others respond to your business name ideas. Obviously, you cannot predict the future, but audience testing can help you see if your ideas align with your target audience. Getting feedback from your target customer can provide you with peace of mind and help you select a name for your business with confidence.


Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Inc 500 company, the worlds #1 naming platform, with nearly 20,000 customers from the smallest startups across the globe to the largest corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi, and AutoNation. Get inspired by exploring these winning brand name ideas.

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