How to choose a business name

Choosing a business name is a vital first step in bringing your business to life. Here’s how to choose one that brings success and growth

Choosing a business name is one of the most important first steps when forming a business. It’s what gives shape and form to an otherwise nebulous concept.

The process for choosing the name has parallels with impending parenthood. Brainstorming, listing, discussing, and whittling down to the one that says everything you want it to say to someone. And it can make all the difference in your offspring’s chances in life…

It has to be unique, compelling, memorable. Read our guide before committing – a bit of forethought could save you significant time and money further down the line.

In this article you will learn:


 Choosing 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 a legitimate benefit to using your business instead of your competitors.


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Your business name is therefore essential because it’s:

  • The first point of contact – the first thing that any potential buyer is going to notice is your business name, whether you operate a high-street store or website based business
  • 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

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 about naming your business?

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.


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. Just try to ensure 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.


Rebranding

Rebranding your business can be a terrifying concept. Changing a name can feel like taking away the very essence of the company you’ve built. So why would you do it?

  • You chose badly – it might be the case that you started off with a stinker of a name. Change it as soon as possible
  • Losing relevance to consumers – time makes fools of us all and a name that once had relevance to consumers could change in meaning or lose meaning all together
  • It’s not international – a name that works in the UK may have no meaning outside these shores
  • A new business model – if your business pivots and starts to offer a new model or service you should ensure your name still reflects that
  • A merger or acquisition – merging with another business often results in a name change to represent the two combined operations

If you have a good reason for rebranding then remember to:

  • Reflect it in all your marketing and website content
  • Tell everybody about it: press releases, emails, post on social, direct mail – whatever it takes
  • Test it with your audience!

Read more: How we rebranded our business to enable international expansion


Next steps

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.

Next you can use your name to create a compelling domain name. Find out how to buy a domain name here.