Lisa Tep wanted her spa to have a waterfall, bamboo floors, and a tranquility lounge. After six years, the former accountant had everything set. But her company still didn’t have a name.

For inspiration, Tep pored over books about Thailand, where her mother was born, and searched the Internet. She considered Lotus, which was taken, and Nail Nirvana, which didn’t quite fit.

After a year of researching Asian culture, she hit on Sesen Spa. “Sesen” is the ancient Egyptian word for the lotus flower, a symbol of beauty and purity. Perfect.

“People would be able to pronounce it, but it was different enough, and it would prompt people to ask, ‘What does this mean?'” says Tep, whose company now has 15 employees and revenues of $1.5 million.

A good name is an alchemical combination of message and esthetics. It has to encapsulate everything that makes your business special. It has to be catchy. And it has to be original. “The golden rule of naming is memorability,” says Mike Carr, founder of NameStormers, a naming and branding company in Lago Vista, Tex. “If you can get inside the consumer’s mind, a lot of other sins will be forgiven.”

You can choose to turn over the task of naming your baby to the pros. But no one knows your company better than you do, so it makes sense to give it a shot yourself first. Draft a small group of company insiders to serve as your brainstorming partners and sounding board. Keep the group small; more than six people can stifle creativity.

You can also canvass friends and family for ideas. Begin by listing all the positive attributes of your company and its products; you should aim to evoke your company’s personality and the factors that set it apart from the competition. Simple nouns and adjectives work best, such as “warm,” “friendly,” and “innovative.”

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Photo by Stabilo Boss.

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