When it comes to branding, there are perhaps no decisions more important than determining the name of your business. We spoke to Jack Bennet of Coddies – producers of self-styled Fish Flops that are both eye-catching and comfortable – and learned about his six-step approach to finding the perfect name.

My name’s Jack and I’m a keen entrepreneur, traveller and fish lover based in London. I’ve been running my own businesses since the age of 14. The first was a rare breeds chicken business. I then started an online media company and have recently created a fishwear brand called Coddies.

I use a six-step process to decide on the name of each of my companies. Using Coddies as an example, I’ve described each of these steps below:

Background: what are Coddies?

Coddies are comfortable, stylish and versatile footwear that look like fish (also known as Fish Flops!).

Coddies were inspired by a trip to a small island off the coast of south-west Thailand. It was here that I came across the idea of alternative summer footwear. The western summer footwear market is dominated by similar designs and colour styles, so Coddies provides a unique alternative. In the near future, other fishwear products such as socks and slippers will be added to the Coddies range.

Naming the business was something I put a great deal of thought into – probably way too much! I needed a name that fitted with the products and business ethos, and which was memorable and easy to spell.

Step 1: Determine long-term vision and ethos of the business

When naming a business, it’s important to think about your long-term vision and what you ultimately want it to become. Although this is guesswork at this stage, it helps to refine what you are looking for in the name. Coddies is a fun brand that’s different to conventional fashion businesses, and that’s what I wanted the name to encompass.

Step 2: Brainstorm

My first vision for the company only involved fish-style shoes, so this was where the brainstorming began. I came up with lots of words connected to fish and feet. These included types of fish, fish body parts, words connected to feet, types of shoe, etc.

I then used these words to create a brand name. I experimented with putting the words together, splicing them to create new words and looking into translations of the most popular words in different languages.

After building up a large list of potential names, I met up with a friend to go through the same brainstorming process. With his input, we came up with a whole new set of names.

Step 3: Check availability

Domain name

I now had a list of around 100 potential business names. To begin cutting the list down, I reviewed all the names against their .com availability. I believe it’s important to have a .com domain for a brand, as that’s still the most globally recognised subdomain. I use GoDaddy to check .com availability.

After reviewing the domain availability, the list was halved. Many good names were either in use or only available for a hefty price (which I couldn’t afford or justify). For any names that weren’t available, but had caught my eye, I tested out the availability with slight spelling adjustments. I also got in touch with the owners of the domains, but all the asking prices were above my budget.

Trademark

Trademarks are a simple and cost-effective way of protecting your brand and providing buildings blocks that can be used to help your business grow. Another perk of having a trademark is that it allows you to create branded listings on Amazon. This enables more customisation abilities and prevents other sellers from being able to sell under your listing.

My next step, therefore, was to ensure that each of my names was available to trademark in the UK and USA (geographical markets I am focusing on). These checks were carried out through searching the databases of the UK Government Intellectual Property Office, which includes European trademarks, and the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Step 4: The cutting board

Having confirmed both domain and trademark availability, I thought more thoroughly about the remaining names and cut the list down to around 10. This process took a closer look at how well the names represented the brand, as well as their memorability and spelling. My own personal preferences were also factored in here.

Step 5: Poll the target market

Finally, I put these names out to public vote. I sent polls out to friends and family members that were part of my target market, then took to the streets of London to see where the public opinion lay.

Unfortunately, what this surveying taught me was that none of the names were very popular and I was restricting the brand too much to fish shoes... It was time to go back to the drawing board.

… and repeat!

I repeated the naming process again. This time I thought of the business as an alternative footwear company and a fashion brand.

Step 6: Review results and confirm winner

A lot of brainstorming and surveying later and I had five names that were all very popular with the public. Tabulating the 50+ votes found a clear winner – Coddies!

I’m very happy with this name. It connects well with the fish-style footwear currently being sold and allows for future brand expansion. It’s also a name that fits in with the fun and alternative style of the brand.

Summary

To summarise, the process I go through to name my businesses:

  1. Determine long-term vision and ethos of the business
  2. Brainstorm 
  • Come up with words connected to the business
  • Look into translations in relatable languages
  • Combine and splice the words together to create business names
  • Brainstorm again with someone different
  1. Check availability
  • Domain name (.com)
  • Trademark (in the UK and any other important countries)
  1. Cut list down to the top 5-10
  2. Survey the target market to determine the most popular name
  3. Review results and you should have a winner!

I hope my insights into business naming have been helpful. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Jack Bennet

Founder, Coddies.com

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