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Business

Sara Blakely’s Tips for Naming Your Business

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Nov 8, 2020 • 3 min read

When you name something, it makes it feel more real. Sara Blakely came up with the name for her company Spanx early on in the process of launching her company. Since she didn’t have much money for marketing, the company’s catchy name was her calling card. Even now, Sara and her team at Spanx still assign internal names to new products shortly after the ideas for those products are formed. A good name can give business ideas momentum, whether you’re developing a new product or starting your own small business for the first time.

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Sara Blakely Teaches Self-Made EntrepreneurshipSara Blakely Teaches Self-Made Entrepreneurship

Spanx founder Sara Blakely teaches you bootstrapping tactics and her approach to inventing, selling, and marketing products that consumers love.

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Why Is a Good Business Name Important?

A great business name builds brand recognition. What would you call those sticky strips you put on your cuts if not “Band-Aids”? And how often have you called a tissue a “Kleenex” when a box from the Kleenex brand was nowhere in sight? Sometimes a brand name transcends the product it belongs to and becomes a generic, catchall word—which helps you capture market share.

There is a whole slew of brand names like this. You probably didn’t even realize that most of them were brand names. In fact, the first employee at Blue Ribbon Sports, Jeff Johnson, got the idea for the company’s new name from these types of brands. While perusing an in-fight magazine in 1971, Johnson came across an article that highlighted popular brand identities like Xerox and Kleenex. His main takeaway? The best brand names had at most two syllables and at least one “exotic” letter, like an “X” or a “K.” And thus, the brand “Nike” was born. Sara Blakely employed a similar strategy when she named her company “Spanx.”

Sara Blakely’s Tips for Naming Your Business

Finding the right name for your new business isn’t easy. Here are Sara Blakely’s tips for business owners who are looking for an unforgettable company name:

  1. Give yourself some mental space to brainstorm. During the naming process, give yourself some room to dream by putting yourself in a creative mindset. Finding the best name takes time. Go someplace where you know you won’t be interrupted—your bedroom, somewhere in nature—and start by getting quiet. Spend a few minutes wiping your mind of other tasks and worries. Focus on creating a blank slate upon which to sketch some business ideas.x
  2. Invent a new word. Made-up words do better as brand names than real words.
  3. Play with related words. When brainstorming business name ideas, try playing a little word association game. Without thinking too hard, focus on your product or service and quickly write down the first five to ten words that come to mind. Now play around with those words—combine them, change a letter or two—until you’ve found a name that’s far from forgettable.
  4. Google your ideas to make sure they’re not taken. Remember that the Internet will play a role in people finding your product. If you hit on some names you like the sound of, check the availability of URLs you can fit that name into—whether it’s purely the name or you have to add a few extra, but still intuitive words (getspanx.com). The same goes for social media platforms. A quick check using a search engine should tell you all you need to know about possible names. Once you’ve checked domain availability and found the perfect name, purchase your domain name as soon as you can.
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Learn More About Entrepreneurship

Sara Blakely had no fashion, retail, or business leadership experience when she invented Spanx in the late 1990s. All she had was $5,000 and an idea. Which means you can start your own billion-dollar business, too. Learn more about finding your purpose, making prototypes, building awareness, and selling your product in Sara Blakely’s MasterClass.

Get the MasterClass Annual Membership for exclusive access to video lessons taught by business luminaries, including Sara Blakely, Howard Schultz, Bob Iger, Anna Wintour, and more.

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