hen it comes to naming your retail business, it’s common to find yourself faced with some tough questions. How can I find a name that is differentiated but also makes sense in the context of this specific endeavor? What words and ideas best communicate how my retail business differs from all the others a potential customer can choose from? Where do I even begin to find the right language and how will I know it when I see it?

But don’t worry. By following a few simple steps you will find yourself well on your way to arriving at the right name for your new venture.

Step 1: Ask the Right Questions.

First and foremost, you’ll need to get some things straight in your head. For starters, where does your business fit within the broader marketplace? Is “retail” the right word to describe your particular enterprise? If so, are there other labels that could be used to help categorize your offering?

Would “shopping” make sense? Or perhaps “marketplace”? Finding a couple of highly general words that apply to what you’re doing will help ground you in the right linguistic space.

Next, think about a more specific way to describe your offering within the context of those labels. What kind of retail experience do you specialize in? Is it centered on a type of product such homegoods or handmade items? Or a specific consumer such as parents? Or even a more specifc offering such as bedding? Bringing some objective specificity to how you define your offering is another great way to hone in on some relevant and informative language.

Lastly, consider why your business is special. What does it deliver that people want or need? These value propositions can be functional, emotional, or experiential:

  • Functional value propositions are reflective of tangible results or effects provided by your offering.
  • Emotional value propositions are illustrative of how people will feel after obtaining those results.
  • Experiential value propositions are representative of the positive characteristics and desirable atmosphere that accompany your usage experience.

Identifying the exact functional, emotional and experiential value you bring to the table will in turn lead to language that highlights what’s compelling and exciting about engaging with your business.

Step 2: Build a Diverse List of Language.

After you’ve thought deeply about your offering, it’s time to find the language best suited to celebrate it. This is called “language mining” and it can and should be done in a variety of ways.

Look at your answers to the above questions.

Now language mining techniques can include things like the following:

  • Picking out the most essential and meaningful words.
  • Then finding their synonyms.
  • Looking up their definitions and selecting associated language.
  • Or searching for phrases or idioms that contain them, and metaphors or images that symbolize them.

The idea is to create a pool of language surrounding these words that can be used in the name, or if not, inspire the further discovery of language that can. And the trick is to identify both common and uncommon words to fill those pools to an adequate level of diversity.

Perhaps your retail business only offers goods made with clean ingredients? Where would that lead you from a linguistic perspective? The word “clean” may guide you towards words like “pure”, “pristine” or the idea of a pearl. While the word “ingredients” may take you to ideas around “recipe”, “elements”, or the image of a whisk. The trick here is to look for both common and uncommon words.

Using your initial answers as a springboard for the ideation of additional words will allow you to push beyond what’s top-of-mind without losing the connection to your underlying offering.

Step 3: Explore Different Types of Names.

Now that you have your language list, begin to play with different types of names. First think about naming style. Consider names with a literal connection to your business, as well as names that are suggestive of or “hint at” your value propositions.

For instance:

  • A name like Technology First would clearly indicate a retail business committed to delivering advanced, tech-focused offerings.
  • Meanwhile, something like Trove would symbolize the feelings of awe and excitement associated with discovering these innovations.

Additionally, test out real language, compound language and coined language names to see what feels like the best fit. While the examples above are both real language, perhaps the brevity and catchiness of a compound name like ElectricEdge is appealing. Or the distinctiveness of a coined name like Teknik clicks with you.

Step 4: Assess and Select Based on Your Business Objectives.

Once you’ve explored a wide range of names, it’s time to narrow down to some final options. While it may be tempting to simpy “go with your gut”, you’d be better served by identifying exactly what you hope your name will achieve for your business and making your selection through that lens.

You might fancy a brand name that heightens engagement, navigates effortlessly through a bustling market, and resonates a catchy message. Alternatively, you might want it to tame preconceived notions by presenting futuristic tech as something straightforward and easily operable. Or, you might design it in such a way that it speaks directly to a neglected audience, letting them know your product was crafted with their interests at heart.

Whatever your objectives, a great name can help you meet at least one of them. So when selecting your name make sure it’s deliberately designed with the right naming strategy to work towards a broader strategic goal.


Step 5: Make Sure to Tell People the Right Story.


Lastly, don’t forget to circle back on what you think people will find most interesting, impactful or thrilling about your offering. What do you want them to know about it? What do you want them to think of when they encounter it? What is your most important, most compelling message?

Because at the end of the day your name needs to excite you, but it also needs to excite them.

So while it may be tempting to select a name you find personally meaningful (such as a reference to the street you grew up on or a beloved inside joke), it’s far better to select a name with an origin story, or rationale, that will deeply resonate with your target audience.

Because it’s that kind of name, and its associated narrative, that will set your entire messaging strategy on a trajectory of success.


Or… You Can Use Aesop!


Aesop is a self-service platform that democratizes access to the commercial power of great names by removing the cost, knowledge and logistical barriers typically surrounding their creation.

Designed by our founder, Tanya Gustafson, a seasoned naming expert with decades of experience across a wide range of markets and sectors, Aesop rigorously mimics the branding industry’s best-in-class naming processes… Producing the same gold standard product an agency delivers in person – but at a tiny fraction of the cost. 

– By Tanya Gustafson