With the abundance of startups booming, and entrepreneurs popping up like spring flowers, everyone seems to have a business idea of their own and a desire to see it become a reality. For the most part, we all have an idea of what goes into starting a business, but few of us realize how important those first few steps are—namely, choosing what you will call your company.
Not only will the name that you choose be difficult to change down the road, but it also plays into your brand, design, legitimacy, sales, and the efficacy of your marketing strategies when trying to reach your target audiences.
In fact, you could say that a good part of your company’s success, or lack thereof, depends on the words that you choose to represent it. Take a look at some of the things that you should ponder before you go ahead and register your name.
Brainstorming a Business Name
The first thing that you need to do is sit down and think about your product or service. What are you offering, and what do you want people to think of when they hear your brand name?
A good starting point is to come up with a few adjectives that you want people to think of when they hear or see your business name. How you want people to perceive your enterprise will have a profound impact on the name you choose, so try to stick to three main points, like so:
Health Professionals: Clean, professional, and welcoming.
Design and Marketing: Creative, energetic, and modern.
Construction/Building: Reliable, trustworthy, and experienced.
Technology: Innovative, digital, and futuristic.
Once you have some adjectives that represent your business, it’s time to start thinking about what one word would bring those descriptions to mind. Do you want that word to be recognizable, or would you prefer something that is fresh and catchy?
Make a list of names and pass it around to friends, family, co-workers, and even in online forums. Try to get opinions from individuals that are within the target market of your product. If women of a certain age are your target, ask them instead of focusing too much on people outside of that demographic.
What not to do When Naming a Business
After you have a few names selected, cut the ones that just aren’t working. Some common things to watch out for include:
- Piggybacking. Don’t use another business’s name within your own, and don’t play off of it. Be original, or you might face legal repercussions at worst, or being unrecognized as a separate business at best.
- Complicated names. Your business name shouldn’t just be easy to say, it should be easy to spell. Why? When people hear your name in passing, there’s a good chance they’ll try to find it later. If they can’t spell it, they’ll never visit your website. While you do have some creative freedom when it comes to spelling variations, don’t go beyond reason.
- Foreign words. Although words in other languages can be exotic and enticing business names, make sure that they actually mean what you think they do. You wouldn’t want to name your business something that actually means “awful” or “broken” in another language.
- The appearance of the name on paper. Your name might sound nice, but what does it look like? Remember, it’s going to be on business cards, in email signatures, on your website, and just about everywhere else. Sure, you’ll have a logo, but it will also be written in plain text in many places, so give it a visual once over.
Try to stick with simple, clear, and individualistic ideas for your business name, and don’t worry about trends. While a certain naming convention might be popular now, will it be in ten years? Think long-term, evergreen names that will still be relevant to you, your brand, and your business in the future.
What you have to do When Naming a Business
If you are going to have an online presence, which you probably should have regardless of your industry, there are a few extra things to think about when choosing a name. Before registering, check into:
The availability of your domain name
Your domain name is how your business will be best represented on the web. Whether or not you actually offer products or services online doesn’t matter, you should still have a site for branding, recruiting, and advertising purposes. Check for availability before setting a name in stone.
Social media pages
Are there already existing social media pages that are using the business name you would like? How many are there, and what are they for? If social media is going to be a big part of your marketing and branding strategies, you should probably let this be a consideration when sorting through names.
Sure, you might only want to run your business locally, but if you’re online you will still be coming up in international search results. Is your business name related to an international company that experienced bad press? Do you want to expand to other states or countries down the road? Are there already international businesses that have similar names? If you ever want to grow your business, this is something that you definitely need to consider.
Trademark and name search
Once you choose a name or two, you’ll have to run them through a corporate name and trademark search to see if there are any businesses running under that name in your state, or any other state you want to conduct business in. This is why it’s a good idea to have at least one or two backups.
After you have conducted a name search, it’s time to jump in and register within the states you would like to operate in. Remember, any business name that is not just your name (for example, if your name is Bob Loblaw and you have a business named Bob Loblaw Carpentry) must be registered.
Business Name Considerations
There are also smaller considerations that can make a big difference when picking out the perfect name for your company. Ask yourself the following questions before giving a name the green light:
- Is it going to be easy to create a brand around?
- What mental image do I get when I hear it?
- Can I easily envision a suitable logo for it?
- Do my brand colors clash with the mental imagery of the word?
- What emotions does this word evoke?
- Does it match my industry and product?
- Does it relate to my target market?
- Is it distinctive?
Ideally, your business name will be something that people can easily remember and relate to you. Your branding will have a strong impact on this.
Take Google for example. While their name is virtually meaningless, their branding was strong enough to make it a word that everyone knows. It’s even become a verb used in everyday conversation. The uniqueness of the name, coupled with forward and aggressive branding has made this a household name.
On the other hand, we all know The Weather Network because the name is unmistakeable. Without even having an explanation of what it is, we can easily understand its purpose. It’s simple, straight-forward, and requires no further explanation. People would still know what it was, and likely use it, with very little branding on the part of the business.
Rocking the Name Game
Naming a business is quite similar to naming a child or a pet—you basically have one shot at it, because it’s hard to change once you’ve made a decision. But just like with a child or a pet, you’ll get a gut feeling about the name you choose that lets you know you made the right decision.
As long as you adhere to general naming guidelines, and you don’t choose anything offensive, complicated, or already in use, you should be ok. What you choose really depends on what your business is, the branding efforts you are willing to make, and the availability of your preference.
Take naming your business seriously, but not so seriously that you lose sight of your original goals and ideas, and try to have some fun while you do it!
What business names did you consider before making a decision? What’s the best business name you have ever heard of?