How to Name a Business Unit

by Marla Currie; Updated September 26, 2017
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As businesses grow and functions become decentralized and specialized, it becomes necessary to delineate distinct operational areas by developing unit names. This is particularly important when the business unit has a purpose that is different from the parent entity's, or when it is a public-facing entity. The goal is to create a name that captures the essence of the business unit’s activity, is memorable and has longevity.

Step 1

Meet with key individuals within the organization to discuss the mission and operational responsibility of the new business unit; ask them to submit unit names for consideration. You also can open the process to any employee, perhaps by conducting a naming contest. You can keep the list manageable by restricting each person to no more than five names.

Step 2

Assemble a smaller group from marketing as well as an outside advertising or branding agency to evaluate the initial set of names and to pare the list down to about 10. Ask key C-level management (CEO, COO, CIO) for input on the strengths and weaknesses of each of those 10 names, and narrow the list down to about five final candidates.

Step 3

Ask your legal department to do a name search so that you can trademark or copyright the name if the business unit is public-facing. Also, see if the name is being used as a domain name on the Internet. If so, determine if the name can be purchased from the current owner.

Step 4

Conduct a series of focus group research panels with consumers, if the business unit is public-facing, to get input on each name, its connotations, suitability for the business and memorability. You might ask your research panel to describe each name as a human, animal, building, city, or other entity to get at deep-seated but unconscious perceptions and help uncover any hidden strengths or weaknesses.

Step 5

Evaluate the findings from the group research as a prelude to presenting the winning name to upper management. You might want to have your branding or ad agency do some concept logo designs for the winning name to help sell the name internally.

About the Author

Marla Currie has written professionally since 1995. She is editor and publisher of The Urban Shopper, an online magazine whose consumerist content is targeted to Black and Latino females. In addition to short fiction, Currie is author of "The Humours of Black Life," a nonfiction work. She has a master's degree in advertising.

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