One of the first big challenges in starting a business whether a large or one-person business, online or brick-and-mortar — is not the writing of the business plan nor looking for funding or setting up the office or opening the bank account. It is the process of searching and choosing of the right business name.
Looking for the most appropriate business name can be very challenging because the word or group of words that you choose as your name can make or unmake your product or services. The name embodies your brand: it is who and what you are in the eyes of your customers, suppliers, financiers and competitors.
Selecting the right business name is crucial for a number of reasons:
- It is your customer’s first contact with your company and its products.
- It is what consumers use to talk about your product to other, potential customers.
- The right brand name makes consumers and other businesses want to use your product or associate with your company.
- The right brand name is what consumers remember when they want to use your product again.
- The right brand name begins the sale for you. It is your first sales rep, one that works for you around the clock, 7 days a week.
Business names are not “spur of the moment” creations. It is the result of possibly long days and nights of brainstorming, digging the Thesaurus for synonyms and antonyms, interrelated words and words that has some kind of relationship with the proposed business activity. The big companies even hire expensive consultants to help them choose the right name for their business or product.
The easiest business name to form requiring minimal effort is through the use of personal initials or full names. Others combine the names of the owners. This approach gives the impression that customers can expect the personal attention and care of the owner. Just make sure that your name is easy to remember and will ring a bell on people’s ears.
Using your personal name as your business name works well if you already have a proven track record in your field and leveraging your name could attract customers. Take for example finance and Wall Street companies: many carry the names of their founders who have had a long solid background in investing to represent credibility and wealth of knowledge.
Some names such as “Everlasting Flower Shop” and “Long Life Mortuary Services” connoting longevity are quite common in the Orient and the Far East. The names “New Life” “New Light” “New Hope” show some kind of a revival spirit. Home Sweet Home Rehabilitation Center is a good name for those who are confined. EverSure, Everlast shows confidence and endurance. Fresh Smell Cleaners gives a built-in assurance of cleanness for a laundry shop.
Using foreign language can also depict the company’s origin and also international activities. Names using, “Compania General” or “Companie Internationale” or “GmbH” displays Spanish, French or German influence.
To be listed ahead of everyone in a directory, some companies choose words that start with a number or start with the letter “A”.
Since the name is the showcase of your business, there are a number of key pointers that you need to consider when creating your business name:
1. It should be appealing and easy to use.
The name should be easy to understand, spell, and pronounce. It should be something that people can easily repeat, and most of all, remember. It should be distinguishable from your competitors. Most important of all, it should have the potential of becoming a by-word in the line of business you are in.
2. Get ahead of the pack.
If most of your potential customers will use the telephone directory to search for companies in your business, consider your position in the telephone directory listing when you think of a name. Adding words like “The” or “A” before your name can change your position in the directory. Be cautious in using acronyms or abbreviations, as these can confuse your potential customers.
3. Make room for expansion.
Even if you are operating a highly niched product, select names that would represent a broader category of your product line. Names that state a particular product can limit you if you want to expand your line. The name Antique Horses may hinder you when you want to sell antique furniture, trunks and lamps that do not depict horses in their designs.
4. Emphasize your business image.
Adjectives describing your product or service can be effectively used in a business name. The cleaning company “Merry Maids” has successfully projected the image of cleaning workers that are too happy to do their jobs. They want to leave the impression that their happy workers will go to great lengths to make their customers happy.
5. Use a Distinct Business Name.
Forget about the lure of using a name similar or identical to that of another business. If you call your line of equestrian sporting apparel “Polo Sporting Designs,” the holder of the trademark “Polo” the giant Ralph Lauren may slap you with a lawsuit.
At any rate, the choice of a business name must be given a very serious thought because this will be the “flag” of the business. Once you have chosen the word or group of words, it will be with you for as long as you are in business and sometimes, even if others may have taken over and you have gone to pursue other lines of endeavor.
Recommended Books on Choosing Your Business Name:
- The Making of a Name: The Inside Story of the Brands We Buy
- Trademark: Legal Care for Your Business & Product Name
- The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design
- Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget
- Breakthrough Branding: How Smart Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs Transform a Small Idea into a Big Brand