I was recently facilitating a branding off-site for a startup and found myself continually tripping over my client's company name. They confessed that this was a common issue. When I proffered that a name that causes confusion might not be the best choice, they looked puzzled and said, "But that's what we are called."

"A rose by any other name," famously wrote William Shakespeare. But then again, he didn't live in the Internet age, where the quest for a pithy and punchy .com or company title has become big business. The name you choose generates a tone, mood and meaning. It's a bit of a Wild West out there when it comes to crafting a nomenclature that best represents your brand, so here are seven critical naming tips to consider: abc

1. Make it as short, snappy and simple as possible.

Beware overly crafty or glib names. They can confuse your audience and mix up your message. This doesn't mean you s houldn't exercise creativity; just pay attention to keeping it on point with your business. Names that express a benefit and give a clear idea of what the business, book or product does are a shortcut to brand recognition. For example: QuickBooks, Planet Rice and TV Guide -- just to name a few.

2. Avoid random and awkward punctuation.

When the bottle company S'well ran into copyright issues using the world "Swell" (with no apostrophe), they decided to add one as a way around the problem. The only problem? How many people will remember to put the apostrophe in when entering the company name into a Google search? Random or awkward apostrophes, colons and ampersands can confuse customers and make it harder to find your company. 

3. Craft with keywords in mind.

Keywords are the actual terms, words and phrases that people type into a search engine to find something. Crafting keyword-rich names can offer a boost to your Google rankings. Also keep in mind that many people search for a specific term(s), so using keywords in the names that you know your audience searches for will increase your opportunity to be found. 

4. Check out Google AdWords.

One source of inspiration for naming is Google AdWords Keyword Tool. It's a free, powerful tool you can use to come up with ideas for new names. The Keyword Tool will show you how often people search for a particular word or phrase, both globally and locally.

5. Think about how the name sounds when said aloud.

Your name won't just be read; it will be said. Several conventions such as alliteration (using words that all start with the same letter like American Airlines or Dunkin' Donuts) tend to roll right off the tongue.

6. Consider the context.

I had a client once whose company had been called Isses for a decade. Unfortunately, the similarity in pronunciation -- if not spelling -- to the terrorist group made the company name untenable. As the market and culture change, so may the name you use. 

7. Beware creative spelling.

Anyone who has a personal name that is any more complex than Jim Smith knows that more often than not, you have to spell out a name for people to understand it. That's why using the numeral 4 (Control4.com) instead of the word four, dropping letters in the way a word is typically spelled (Flickr vs Flicker), and other Internet-era temptations can cause more trouble than they are worth.

In an era where there's dramatically fierce competition for attention from consumers and investors alike, your company or product name can be a make-it-or-break-it proposition. So keep the above in mind, then ready, aim, name.