3. How to choose the perfect name for your business

Choosing the right start-up name is extremely important. Here's a practical guide on how to pick out the best name to ultimately build a better business

Choosing a company name is one of the most important things to consider when forming a business. It is also one of the very first decisions that you will have to make – as a result, it’s always best to do your research and plan thoroughly before choosing one.

Read our guide before committing yourself to a business name – a bit of forethought could save you significant time and money further down the line.

Make it a name that counts

In an ideal world, a company with a strong product, service, or niche idea should expect to make a healthy profit. However, it takes more than a good business idea to get across to customers that there is legitimate benefit to using your business instead of your competitors.

Your business name is therefore essential because it’s:

  • The point of contact. The first thing that any potential buyer is going to notice is your business name, as a result it is almost more important than your sales pitch or even your end product.
  • The initial appeal. You might have the best idea in the world but if people are looking elsewhere because your competition ‘looks’ more attractive then no-one will ever know. The key is making the initial appeal better with the best name.
  • The first point of entry. As your business name is the entry point to your start-up and, superficially, the only differentiator between you and your competitors, customers will make instant judgements on where they want to part with their cash.

Therefore, it’s essential that you strike the right tone with your business’ name. And more importantly, successful companies do not just have good names, they develop a strong brand identity. And, in time, brands can literally sell themselves.

What do the experts have to say?

Company branding specialist Jim Fowle of Red Mullet Design, says:

“When starting a company, your brand is of vital importance. Branding is not just a memorable logo but also an effective, memorable name that can really help people remember you. This can be portrayed strongly visually as well. In the initial stages, we find it’s good to envisage your name and branding, making sure it’s recognisable, simple and reflects your business.”

Easier said than done. After all you want to stand out from your competition but you also need to be taken seriously. When you’re choosing a business name it’s essential that you:

  • Like saying it. Remember that this is a name that you will have to say dozens of times each day and it is something you will be known by. So you need to enjoy saying it – if it’s overly complex to say, this may be a problem.
  • Like hearing it. Make sure that you like how it sounds and the way people say it. If it’s difficult to pronounce you might get people saying it wrong, which can be difficult to hear and also detracts from your overall brand recognition.
  • Like looking at it. The way it’s written in text, how the logo reads and every other visual representation of your name needs consideration. Make sure you like how it looks before committing.

“Initially, in the early stages the best option is to be experimental” suggests Fowle.

He goes on to say that: “Sometimes it’s easy to get too clever and to lose sight of what you are trying to achieve. It is about getting the balance of a good name and having good branding at the same time. This encapsulates the perfect package”. So be bold, but try to keep it simple.

Choosing a name: What to do and what to avoid

Avoid the personal touch

It’s tempting to incorporate your own name into your business’ moniker, however Dave’s Cabs or Hutchison Landscape Gardening hardly screams originality. As a result, try to avoid personalising your business as it’s unlikely that the name will sway any customers without an established brand attached to it. If you’re hoping to grow your brand too – it’s important for your business to stand on its own feet independent of you.

Bring a bit of local flavour

A safe and trustworthy method is to link your business’ name to the area in which you operate – customers associate such firms with strong local roots and a friendly approach to the public. Therefore, the Acton Sandwich Shop or Govan Records would be perceived to be a well-established, reputable businesses.

Inject a bit of humour

Humour or a nice play on words is an effective way to stand out from the crowd. While a fish and chip shop called Your Plaice or Mine or a hairdressers named Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow would elicit predictable groans from passers-by, puns can be used for good effect, as long as they are not overly cheesy or digress from the image you are trying to convey for your firm.

Don’t be boring, keep it snappy

Ideally, names should be snappy, original and instantly informative as to what your business does. Customers should be drawn to a name that stands out from the crowd, but also find it trustworthy and professional.

Naming your company… And getting it right

The process of naming your company is very important, and ideally you do want to get it right first time – this means your brand is consistent throughout the lifecycle of your business, and if it grows and you evolve into something different then that’s fine. Try to pick a name that can grow with your business.

There are many other ways you can make a difference in your business, but a good company name is a fantastic start.

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  1. Ed Round
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    Great points here. It’s important to choose a name for the right reasons, and this article lays them out well. But it’s also important to ensure you don’t end up in legal hot water. After you’ve chosen your name (or, ideally, a short list of possibilities), talk to a Trade Mark Attorney, who will be able to advise you on availability (i.e. if you’re going to tread on any pre-existing rights to similar brands) and registrability (i.e. if you’re going to be able to get any protection against third party imitators of your brand in the future.

    It’s also worth considering if your name is going to work internationally. That is, is it going to be pronounceable by non-English speakers or, even, is the name going to be unintentionally humorous or insulting in another language? Even within the sphere of English speakers, cultural differences abound and a brand that works in the UK may be wholly unsuitable for the US market. Brand consultants should be able to advise on this issue.

  2. Growlific
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    Some great points here… it’s also important to note that you should always think about your online strategy going forward when considering naming your business. If it’s possible to have your business name match your domain name exactly, that is a huge benefit in having someone remember your company name. If they have to remember your company name and a different domain name so that they can find you online, that’s just one more thing for a potential customer to remember. Sometimes it’s a good thing to actually get business name ideas from quality domain names that you can purchase at a reasonable price. I may be biased:) but that’s what we try to provide at Growlific.com. You might just get a business idea from browsing the creative and brandable domain names we offer. The ability to own your exact match business name is a great benefit.