Tips for Naming Your Business
What's in a Name?
The name of your business is important, but it can be tough to decide on. If you choose the wrong one, it can leave your potential clients confused or turned off. When you have a great name, customers know what to expect and feel comfortable with your business.
So, what can you do to do make sure your business name works?
"Keep It Simple"
The biggest feedback I get from customers is that they want the name to tell them exactly what the business does. Experts also say that by using a descriptive name, you will save time and money on advertising by avoiding any type of explanations.
Does it sound good when spoken aloud?
Sometimes the things that make perfect sense in our heads, don't actually translate well when spoken. Say the name in a sentence a few times to see how it flows.
Make It Easy to Spell
Internet searches don't always offer alternative spellings to help customers find you. Neither do phone books or 411 websites. If clients can't spell the name of your business, they can't find you.
Reflect Your Objectives
Are you going for speedy service? Quality repairs? Reliable information? Speedy Auto Service is a great example of a business getting across their objective and letting clients know what exactly they do.
Compare to "The Other Guy"
What is your competition using? Does it work or are they losing business because their name too difficult, vague or cutsie? Use solid competitors as a measuring stick for naming your business.
You Can Do It!
"Remember that the name you choose for your business can play a key role in enticing potential customers to take a closer look - or to drive them away forever."
~ Rachel Bridge, You Can Do It Too: The 20 Essential Things Every Budding Entrepreneur Should Know
Room to Grow
If you plan on expanding your business, make sure the name doesn't limit you to what you start out doing. For example, my publishing company had the word "press" in it, but my business plan called for expansion into talking books, videos and eventually movies. The name was poorly planned since it limited clients to the concept of printed materials.
That Means What in Japanese?
Check to see if the name has any meaning in foreign languages. With today's global market, it would be a shame to have a name that offends or confuses potential customers in another country.
Pick a Name That is "Ever-Green"
In other words, something that won't become dated or obsolete in a few years. For example, 8 Trak 4 You would be a name only Americans (or Canadians) over the age of 40 would understand since 8-track tapes (AKA Stereo 8) became obsolete by the mid-80's and was only known in Northern America.
Thinking of Changing Your Name?
Sometimes, a business name becomes outdated, falls out of favour or has encountered legal issues. Other times, the owner decides that the business has evolved or the original name just isn't working.
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Can You Trademark It?
Make a Short List
Write down a list of potential names that you feel conveys the spirit of your business in a clear and friendly manner. Try to whittle it down to about 5 solid options.
Make Sure the .com is Available
It sucks to go through all the trouble of naming a business or product only to discover that someone else has bought the .com for that name. I ran into this problem when I tried to get the .com for one of my book titles and discovered that not only did someone already have it, but they weren't even using it! They were just sitting on it, waiting to see if they could sell the domain for a profit. You can always try alternatives, such as .net or .me, but it's not as memorable for clients and somehow always seems less professional to them.
Take it for a Test Run
Once you have a short list of potential names, try them out on friends and potential clients. See how they react to the names and which one(s) really stand out to them in terms of:
- Does it convey the image you want clients to associate with your business?
- It is easy for them to remember?
- Can they easily spell it?
Remember: As long as your customers can remember it, it tells them exactly what you do and lets them feel like they know you, they'll be happy and willing to part with their hard-earned cash for your services.
What Not to Do
Just to be safe, you may want to check out this useful list of Mistakes to Avoid when naming your business.
If You're Stuck ...
If all else fails, get help! This can mean finding a focus group, gathering some peers together to help you brainstorm, interviewing successful business owners, or simply hiring a consulting firm to steer you in the right direction.
Did you have professional help from a business consultant when naming your business?
What Makes Your Business Special
You want your business to be unique and special. And it is, but you make it special, not the name you give it. Your services and attention to detail are what customers are looking for. The way you treat them and care about their needs will bring them back. So, choose a name that they will remember when recommending you to their friends and family.