It seems kind of obvious, but the name of your business is such an important factor for making your new venture a success. There’s no point creating an incredible new product or service if you can’t package it up into a fantastic brand that consumers all over the world would love to buy into – and they will.
You want to choose a business name that will last and, if possible, embody both your values and your company’s distinguishing characteristics. A great name can create buzz, position you as a true leader and innovator, and reinforce your value proposition in a word or two.
However, the process for choosing your business name can be tricky. Screening long lists of names with a focus group composed of friends and family can return mixed results.
To give you a helping hand, I’ve created a guide to the do’s and don’ts of choosing a name for your business:
How to choose the ideal name for your business
There are three ways to approach choosing a name for your business:
- Using your name
- Choosing a descriptive word
- Picking a random word
Let’s take a look at each method in more detail.
Business name option #1: your name
Examples: Amy Porterfield, Marie Forleo.
Using your name makes your business instantly more personal. It’s clear to the prospective customer who is at the helm of your business.
It’s a well known fact in the consumer world that people buy from people. Using your name is a great way to foster an immediate level of trust with your customer as your name ‘is your word’.
Another benefit of choosing your name is that the domain name is usually free. If not, add the first letter of your middle name, or a descriptive word like ‘andrea smith coaching’.
Advantages: Using your name can mean it’s quick and easy to decide on your business name and usually the domain is available. Choosing your name creates the impression of a family run business that cares about and delivers high quality customer service.
Disadvantages: You need to be ready to put yourself out there. If your name is going to be in the public domain, people will easily find your personal account on social media. Spend a little time cleaning up your profiles and remove anything you would not want clients to see.
The second disadvantage comes if you’re looking to create a brand or business that you’ll eventually want to sell. Using your own name will depreciate the value of that business as the new owner will have to completely rebrand it to continue the business, which can often be extremely costly.
Business name option #2: descriptive name
Examples: PCWorld, Carphone Warehouse, Pets At Home
Encapsulating the ethos of your brand – your product and services in just a couple of words – can seem like a tall order. But it can be done and is a great way at instantly communicating what your business is all about.
When choosing a descriptive word or name for your business, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Pick a short name so people can remember it easily – 3 words tops (4 if they are short),
- Avoid something that is too similar to another competitor – you want to stand out from the crowd,
- Try avoiding odd spelling – people should be able to spell your business name without asking,
- Check domain availability.
Advantages: people know what you are about just with your business name.
Disadvantages: It may be difficult to find a good, short domain name for a small price.
Business name option #3: using a random word
Examples: Google, Apple and Uber
These random words may or may not mean something, and they don’t always have to describe the product either. Generally, they have a nice ring to them and they are easy to remember.
Advantage: Using a random word usually means it’s easy to find an available domain.
Disadvantages: The first challenge is trying to find a word that you like. The second disadvantage is perhaps the most critical one; people may not know what your company is about from the name.
Tips and tricks on finding a name for your business
Whichever of the three options above you choose to explore, there are some things to bear in mind when deciding what to name your business.
Naming a business: Do
1. Pick a name that’s unique
Attempting to copy the name of another brand or business in an attempt to gain customers will only lead to trouble and potential lawsuits.
You may think that picking a similar brand name to a big competitor is a great way to attract some of their search traffic. You may even think you can rely on customers typing the name of the original brand incorrectly and finding themselves on your site.
Take my advice and do not get on this bandwagon. The brand you decide to copy could easily become unpopular overnight and you’ll regret your decision for a long time to come.
Unique and quirky names can often resonate well with customers depending on the characteristics of your brand. Try to make it memorable so that you can’t help but keep them in mind when deciding where to shop. That’s the key.
2. Pick a name that has an available domain
You don’t want to come up with the most amazing brand name and then start designing all of your packaging and desk stationery before you’ve checked whether the domain is available. The domain name is the URL of your website, and what business these days doesn’t want a website to promote their services or products?
If you’re expecting to find a domain with fewer than six letters, you’ve got another thing coming. Sadly, the majority of them are already taken either by legitimate companies or by squatters.
I’ve created a page where you can check whether your chosen business name is available for a .com or various other suffixes and help you find alternatives: Launch & Sell Name Checker.
Naming a business: Don’t
1. Use puns in your name
This can be quite a tricky one. If you’re creating a playful brand it can often be tempting to use wordplay and puns in your business title to attract the right customers. However, in many cases this can actually put off potential clients who might not take your business seriously. Just consider whether it’s worth the risk for you or not.
2. Create something that will be commonly misspelt
This is such a key factor when naming your business. It needs to be easy to spell and remember. Keep it simple – people shouldn’t wonder how it’s spelt:
- Avoid putting together two words that end and begin with the same vowel, for example: creativeentrepreneur.
- Do not change the spelling of words, for example: GalBoss instead of GirlBoss
I’m not saying this is a deal breaker and will lead to your failure. I’ve seen people succeed with wacky business names.
However, it definitely helps if people can find your business page or website without having to try three different spellings. Imagine if they heard your business name in a podcast and wanted to look you up on the web? Let’s make it as easy as possible for your customers to find you.
3. Spend too long deciding on your name
My biggest tip in this category is do not spend weeks choosing your business name. I know it seems super important, and yes it’s important, but not as much as getting out there as soon as possible.
There is no perfect name. You simply need a good name that allows you to start selling your services and products.
As your company develops, you may have the opportunity to change your business name. I’ve already change my business name twice in a year and half and it’s not set me back.
If you’re wondering how to deal the process of changing your business name, I’m going to be covering this topic in a future article. I’ll talk about what I did when I changed my business name, how I kept my SEO in place and how I transitioned old and new customers through this change.
Your next steps to naming your business
I hope that you have enjoyed my tips and tricks on how to choose a business name that you and your audience will love.
Keep your momentum going and make sure you don’t procrastinate at this stage. I know it seems like the impossible to come up with a name for your company, but it is just one step in your journey as an entrepreneur. The trick is to keep on moving!
Have you been inspired to take the plunge and register your business name? I’d love to know what you’ve chosen. Share your thoughts in the comments!
Share this with someone you know who is struggling to come up with a name for their business.