Your Business Name
While our beloved Shakespeare penned that ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet,’ the name you choose for a business must be consistent, unique and memorable unto itself. You should love it, and hope your customers will as well. And, if they identify it with a friendly company, they will share the news with others and your business will blossom.
Though this part of your startup stage is a fun and creative time, remember there are initial legal services business owners need to consider as well. Your business name must be original, comply with government regulations, and your brand will also need to be trademarked.
Why Names Matter
We’ve all wandered through a bookstore, contemplating what to read while traveling. What do we look for? Why, a title that jumps off the cover and touches a nerve, of course. An attractive display may catch our attention, as might a now-famous book which generated a top film we’ve recently seen.
Essentially though, the title is what we notice. It must be intriguing, interesting, witty or inspiring in some way to make us stop and pull it down from the shelf. Similarly, your customers are browsing around the Internet, scrolling through pages of search results. And – make no mistake – they’re looking for a name that speaks to them.
“The name Virgin, according to Richard Branson (in his autobiography), arose from a colleague of his when they were brainstorming business ideas. She suggested Virgin – as they were all new to business – like “virgins.”
10 Tips for Naming Your Business
- Don’t infringe – Before you start spending money on business cards, make sure the name is not already in use! Be aware that if the name is very close to another company’s, you’re going to have trouble registering it with the HMRC. So, check the official registry first.
- Family names – Unless your surname has a well-known heritage, you probably don’t want to use it for a company brand – especially if it isn’t synonymous with your services or products.
- Get creative – Think about your competition and what drives consumers to their doors. Go to the Internet and find out whether the name you like is even available as a domain name. Here is a fun tool that turns ideas into names.
- Looks do matter – Consider the way your business name will look in print. After all, customers are going to see your name on the window of your shop, business cards, name plaques, letterhead and envelopes, advertising – and most importantly your website.
- Keep it simple – If the name is hard to pronounce or spell, your customers will struggle to remember or share it. This could also be problematic when they are trying to find your website or online directory listing.
- Trust your instincts – Does the name make you smile? Then test the waters and run it past a couple of colleagues and friends. Or give them 2-3 of your strongest choices and get their feedback. In the end, take the leap for what you want – most importantly, it should feel right to you.
- Spell it out – The use of hyphens, acronyms and initials may seem like a good idea, but in the long run it might be confusing. Unless it is especially brilliant, such as MADD (mothers against drunk drivers), it’s best to resist the temptation.
- Stay on point – Does the name suggest the nature of your business idea? Will it imply benefits and strengths? Remember, if you’re going to choose a random name such as Google or Apple, be prepared for a huge marketing expense to brand it with the public.
- Engage with others – Will the name set you apart from others, especially competitors? Does it connect on a human level? If it is relevant and likeable, people will find it memorable.
- Grab the domain – Your domain name should match your business name as closely as possible. Check with an online domain registrar. If the .com or .co.uk domain is taken, choose another name – otherwise you could lose business to a competitor, or lose a confused client. Don’t opt for the ‘lesser’ extensions (.net, .biz, .me, etc.) as they are not considered prime property.