I co-founded a consumer finance business earlier this year that helps US consumer decrease their debt burden using innovative payment solutions. We have been live in the market for about 5 months. We would like to choose a final name for the business that we can use going forward (we have been testing several names) and want to develop a proper strategy to do this. I would love to connect with folks who have significant experience in branding for B2C companies with traditional marketing focus (and emphasis on direct mail).
Try the telephone test. Every time someone in your family or someone else at the company calls you, answer the phone with the name. How does that feel to you? Does the person at the other end understand exactly what you just said? Try the cocktail party test - imagine you're at a football game or a cocktail party or a concert, and the person next to you asks where you work. You cup your hand over your mouth and yell it to them over the noise. Did they understand what you said? Does your name sound like something you don't want to be associated with (Terrace / Terrorist)? Try a Google screening - and don't just Google the name itself - write down 15 ways the name could be misspelled. Google them all. Is one of them a competitor? An escort service? A reunited '60s rock band? Look into The Elbow Room. Technologies change all the time, business plans evolve. Does the name give you elbow room to grow, adjust, or even completely start over, either with technology or process? These are a few ways to judge between some finalists.
Having personally designed and produced direct mail pieces for several B2C brands and companies, I've seen what works and what doesn't. You want to make sure the name is easy enough to identify and understand, but not generic enough that consumers cannot discern the name from the product offered. There's a fine line that should not be crossed. I'm happy to discuss this more. Knowing the names you've already tested, and the results from your testing would be great.
That's good advice from Mark and Ryan. You'll also want to take into account practical factors such as existing trademarks and the availability and price of corresponding domain names.
For the sake of brevity, I've got to ignore some of the nuances, so here's some high-level advice: you can go the descriptive route (e.g., Williams Automotive Repair Center), the evocative route (e.g., Lemonpie Automotive), or somewhere in between. Both routes have benefits and drawbacks. I'd avoid trendy naming conventions—for example, taking two words, sandwiching them together, and keeping the second capital (SureGo Automotive). Or intentional misspellings (Awesum Automotive). Or made-up words, which always end up sound like pharmaceuticals. Instead, pick a name that gives you a good story to tell when prospective customers ask, "Where did the name come from?" For example, say you were naming your new photography studio. You could call it "David White Photography" or "Brown Bird." One gives you a story to tell: "I take photos of common things like brown birds and help people see them in new ways." The other is predictable. Or you could name your company around the desirable outcome you produce for your customers. What's the opposite of stressing out about debt... celebrating financial freedom? Always having a budget surplus? Do some lateral thinking/brainstorming about things that represent freedom or a surplus. If you'd like some more outside perspective and a practical plan for moving forward and picking a great name that gives you room to grow into it, let me know.