Marketing for Small Businesses

Choosing A Business Name

I have recently worked with a few folks who are starting new companies. These business owners have their ideas and their passions and now they need to package it for all the world to see. They are at the beginning of their business journey and they need to choose their business name. This can seem very overwhelming. However, picking the perfect name is one of the most important things you can do for your business. To get a name right, it’s vital to first get your story straight—one that gets at the very best of your brand. Your brand name is your story distilled to its shortest form. Naming is just one, very powerful, element of the many that a brand has at hand to tell a story. Your brand name is the most used, the most ubiquitous, which means it holds within it the majority of a brand’s value. There are an estimated 300 million companies in the world today – that’s 300 million brand names. Some brands as big as Apple and Coca-Cola, others as small as one person online business. With so many brands in the world, it is getting harder and harder to create and find a unique brand name. Take the time to make sure its right!

When & Why To Choose A New Business Name:

  • You’re starting a new business and you need a name, logo, and website.
  • You’ve developed a new product and it needs a name and a logo.
  • Your name no longer fits who you are and the businesses you are in.
  • You need to change your name because of a trademark conflict.
  • Your name has negative connotations in the new markets you are serving.
  • Your name misleads customers.
  • You merged.

Four Things To Consider When Choosing A Business Name:

  1. Be authentic to who you are. Don’t play it safe. Don’t water down your passion for anyone!
  2. Describes what you do. Ask your friends, clients to describe what you do, how it has transformed their life, or changed the way they feel about a service or product.
  3. Find other names/brands that you love and try to write down why? How the name speaks to you.
  4. Your new name should align with your vision, mission, values and other elements of your strategy.

Now that you have a list of possible words that describe your business and passion its time to get serious. The main purpose of a business name should be to communicate what products or services you offer while being easy to remember and unique to you, if possible.

Seven Types of Business Names To Consider:

  1. Be descriptive but not too general or vague: Don’t choose a name that is too vague or too meaningful. Generic names, like –RVA Fitness & Training Gym, is not only boring but also not easy to remember. Moreover, it doesn’t stand out from other providers. Now consider the name GET FIT RVA – descriptive enough, not boring, and not something you’re likely to forget. Here are a few funny ones you won’t want to be like.
  2. Use related words in a creative way: Don’t be tempted to stuff keywords into your business name. Using plain keywords like General Motors doesn’t work anymore. But often, choosing a somewhat modified version of related keywords works very well, provided it expresses what your business is about. A good way to create catchy, memorable business names is to use alternate versions of common words related to the service you’re offering. For example, the name Attensa is quite perfect for the content aggregation tool. The name is a play on the word attention – which is somewhat relatable to the service itself. Other examples include Reddit (read it).  Here are a few business names that started obscure and built their brand.
  3. Keep it simple: Don’t choose a name that is too long or complicated. Remember that your business name needs to be appealing to your customers. It should sound pleasant, familiar, and conjure up positive emotions. It also needs to be easy to pronounce and remember. Whenever you need to explain your business name, it’s probably not a good sign. It’s okay to be a bit clever, but don’t overdo yourself.
  4. Don’t copy your competitors: Avoid choosing a name too similar to other businesses in your industry. It can mean appearing to be unoriginal, which is not good for your brand image. It can also mean potential customers confuse your business with your competition making it more difficult to get repeat work.
  5. Avoid using your own name: Unless you are an established brand, avoid using your own name. Your name doesn’t communicate anything about your business and won’t mean much to potential customers. This may even cause problems if you ever want to sell your business in the future or even if you wish to expand. There are some rare examples however where integrating the owner’s name within the brand name can work well. Examples are – Automattic (named after its founder Matt) and PageRank (named after Google co-founder Larry Page). That said, PageRank is not a business name per se, it’s an algorithm.
  6. Choose a name that’s scalable. Pick a name that can expand your business. If you sell just books, you might one day sell stationery products or accessories too. If your service is based on a certain area, you might extend to other cities. So, select a broad name that can encompass your future growth.
  7. Make sure you have a related domain: Once you’ve narrowed down your name options, you have to make sure the name you want to use is available. Check if the name is already registered as a trademark or acquired by another business. If you’re planning on having an online presence, which you definitely should, you’ll want to make sure the desired domain is available by doing a domain name check. Go to Namecheap.com or GoDaddy.com and look up the name to see if it’s available.

The right name needs to be timeless, tireless, easy to say and to remember. How do you find a name that grabs people’s attention? A great name stands for something and facilitates brand scaling and extensions. Its sound has rhythm and it looks great in the text of an email and in the logo. You might want to test out some different options if you decide to let’s say combine two words (fabricated name) e.g. Groupon = Group + Coupon. If so, then using name generators can give you some name ideas to consider.

  • Mixwords – Simple tool that takes source words and generates random mixes to quickly visualize potential combinations.
  • Panabee – A simple way to search for domain names, app names, and company names. Combines input words to create unexpected pairings and connections.
  • Wordoid – Power random word generator with toggles for language, quality, patterns, length, and domain availability.

I would also recommend using a dictionary and looking up synonyms.

  • Dictionary.com – Primary definitions, secondary definitions, root words, and related terms.
  • Merriam-Webster – Comprehensive dictionary including pronunciations, first known uses, language learner, and children’s definitions. It also includes a strong thesaurus.
  • Urban Dictionary – The people’s internet dictionary. Find obscure memes, definitions, and phrases. Useful to check if your selected name is offensive or has an obscure second meaning.

Also check tools like Shopify business name generator that can give you some ideas you can play with.

Once you find the right name and the domain is available, you will want to create a logo and consider trademarking it to protect yourself. If you are looking for help building your brand from the ground up, we would love to help!

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