How Not to Name Your Business (Our Journey to Covelle)

Step 1: keep Sam far, far away from it. No, but seriously.

There are a lot of times in life and in business when seemingly opposite pieces of advice turn out to both be true. For example, naming your business should not be the thing that holds you back from starting, AND getting your business name right is critically important. In the end, we’re living proof that names can always change. It’s not easy or fun, but when it comes down to it, starting beats perfect any day of the week.

WHAT NOT TO DO

This is very much a “do as we say, not as we do” moment.

FLOCK & GABBLE

It’s tough to name a thing when you don’t know what that thing IS. That’s how we ended up with a name that didn’t actually make very much sense. Flock, of course, is near and dear to us: #findyourflock, birds of a feather flock together, all that. Gabble snuck in there because Sam thought we might eventually have a companion podcast, and “gabble” is the noise that the San Diego Zoo says flamingos make.

Gabble was also nearly impossible for people who weren’t us to pronounce or spell, and we spent *a lot* of time explaining what it meant – and then explaining that it didn’t really mean anything anymore, since we weren’t planning on having a podcast.

The takeaway: if you’re going to incorporate a nonsense word into your name, consider how other people will say/spell it, and how much time you want to spend explaining yourself. If you go this route, be prepared to snatch up extra domains and social handles to account for possible misspellings.

FLOCK & CO.

And then there was Flock & Co. We loved that it allowed us to keep Flock and also incorporate our love of words that start with “co”: connect, collaborate, community, and on and on and on. In fact, we were so thrilled to be free of Gabble that we failed to do any significant research before changing our domains, emails, and social handles.

Turns out, loving a name doesn’t automatically mean you can have it. There are these things called “laws” in your state that can prevent you from becoming a legal entity if your name doesn’t meet certain standards. We learned this the hard way.

Here are some things ask yourself before you fall madly in love with a name you can’t use:

  • Does another company with this name already exist?
  • Can I legally do business with this name in my state?*
  • Is the domain available?
  • Are the social media handles available?
  • Is it easy for people who aren’t me to spell and pronounce?
  • Does it have any negative or super inappropriate connotations?

*DO NOT GUESS. Don’t assume that the answer is yes. You absolutely must do a thorough search with the Secretary of State, or pay someone to do it for you. Small business attorneys often offer free consultations, and as a bonus, you’ll already have an established relationship when you’re ready to go pro.

The takeaway: do your homework. Do not get attached to a name before you have made absolutely certain that you’re actually able to use it.

WAYS TO NAME YOUR BUSINESS

Not to brag or anything, but we’re basically professional naming-stuff artists after this. (jklol, someone please come name Sam’s kids if she ever has them.) Here are some of the most helpful exercises we went through in our renaming process.

WORD ASSOCIATION

A giant whiteboard and fun-colored markers make this part way more fun. We used Fuze Branding’s workbook as a guide to our word brainstorming.

OTHER LANGUAGES

If none of the words that you discovered in your brainstorming exercises stand out to you, start translating them into other languages. Our friend Sam at Neopolitan Creative was so much help to us at this stage!

We wanted our name to have meaning, so we limited our search to languages that had meaning to us, as well. If you decide to go this route (in the end, we didn’t), be sure to thoroughly research – or hire someone to research – all possible translations of that word in that language. You don’t want to be the girl from high school who thought she was getting “inner strength” tattooed on her back in Chinese, and ended up with a permanent mark that really means “I love chicken nuggets.”

HOOKED ON PHONICS

Found a name that might work, but don’t love how it looks when it’s spelled normally? Play with misspellings or phonetic spellings. Stay aware of how this might affect peoples’ ability to spell your domain name, pronounce your business name, etc.

If you end up choosing a name that’s spelled in a non-standard way, you’ll probably want to scoop up extra domain names and social handles to cover all your bases. For example, if we had kept Flock as our name but spelled it Phlokk, we’d still want to try to get flock.com, @flock, etc. in addition to phlokk.com and @phlokk.

NAME CRUSHES

We were drawn to names like Asana and Oiselle, but we weren’t sure why. We tried to hammer down on what, specifically, we liked about them. It turns out that we both liked one-word names, names that are feminine but still strong and not overly girly, and names that flow without any hard stops in the middle.

EVALUATE YOUR OPTIONS

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few options, use this handy dandy little worksheet from the folks at Fizzle to decide whether or not your favorites are objectively good ideas.

STOP THINKING ABOUT IT

This turned out to be the step that actually led to our new name, so once you’ve done your research and brainstorming, walk away. If something pops into your head in a dream or in the shower or while you’re walking the dog, write it down, and then keep on not thinking about it.

Important: give yourself a hard deadline. It’d be easy to use this step as an excuse for never getting started. Dedicate a week or a month to choosing a name, but don’t let yourself waffle about it forever.

WITHOUT FURTHER ADO: WELCOME TO COVELLE

We are so, so stoked for you guys to meet our forever name: Covelle. (Say it like this: cove – el.)

  • Co: connect, collaborate, community, cocreate, coffee, couch… all the best words start with co. If you ask us, there’s no way that’s a coincidence. (See what we did there?!)
  • Cove: a cove is a safe haven, a harbor, and also a watery-birdy area. Have no fear: #findyourflock and our flamingos aren’t going anywhere. 😉
  • Elle: the one thing that’s never changed is our commitment to serving female entrepreneurs, and to giving women in small business a better way to network.

Flock & Gabble and Flock & Co. will always be a part of our history, but they never felt wholly us. Covelle felt exactly right from the moment we said it out loud, and we’re so relieved to put our epic naming saga behind us.

How did you name YOUR business? Did you *also* royally screw it up the first time around? If you had to change your business name today, what would you choose?

JOIN COVELLE (IT’S FREE!)

Our new name is just one of the massive, awesome changes happening around here! Covelle is a platform that helps female entrepreneurs in creative industries connect and collaborate. Pro membership is coming in January, and existing users will have exclusive early access to our one-time launch bonuses. Fill out your application today to be the first to take advantage of major savings that we won’t ever offer again.

APPLY NOW

  • Jordan Gill

    Im going through a name change right now! First 7 months = PersonaliZed Procedures (the days of being called a medical company Will be over!) and now im naming it the Kolada Group, which is a quirky nod to pIna coladas 🙂 loved this post, guys! Ive been fighting back and forth about changing my name and im so so glad i decided to change it. It makes me feel much more confident stepping into my new business name and Brand with excitement!

    • It’s a process, but so worth it! We’re excited for you!

  • Brooke (@NomadicNewlyweds)

    Congratulations!! That ah-ha moment is pUre gold. I cannot wait to continue to FolloW & watch covelle Grow – keep Up the awesomeness! Co

  • Amy

    I love all the advice and honesty! Combining three words/philosophies into one amazing company/name is genius.

  • Cristy @ W. Collective Interiors

    Great name! Thanks for sharing your journey and tips! I’m looking to rebrand in the new year and am really struggling with the name. I need to find a keeper!

  • charlie

    This past year I changed and rebranding completely! I used to be “A:holic heartmade”, but it didn’t say anything about me or what i do. So i found charlie’s little rangers and i was in love right away