Deciding on a name is one of the most exciting parts of starting up a business.
The only problem with choosing the name of your business is that so much rides on your business name. It’s a little like choosing a name for your baby. A little like? Make that a lot like! It’s no easier choosing a name for your business than it is choosing a name for your baby.
What’s in a business name? You want it to be everything. Sadly, many business names are nothing. Deciding on a great business name takes time. It takes thought. Moreover, getting it wrong could spell disaster for your business. Getting it right, however, will give customers a reason to hire you, connect you to your niche market, and save you thousands of marketing dollars.
You want your business name to have a big impact on people. This, in turn, will have a big effect on your market. A name that’s too far out may make it difficult to brand. A name that’s too generic and common is easily ignored. Naming your business “Sarah’s Cookies” may make all the sense in the world to you. In most cases, however, your own name means very little to your customers because it says nothing memorable or of distinction.
The key to picking a great name for your business is to make it memorable. Make it distinctive. Don’t make it silly or cute. Your name should reflect your market niche and identity and be able to reach your customer base easily. So don’t mess it up!
Top Five Characteristics of a Great Business Name
1. It’s short.
2. It’s specific and reflects a specialized business: Jiffy Lube, Home Depot.
3. It’s unique. Consider using words that are not in the dictionary: Alkamae, Google, Squidoo.
4. It’s creative. Don’t copy, borrow, or modify existing famous brand names. Got Milk? has its own branding. Leave Victoria’s Secret to Victoria.
5. It’s an easy name to say, spell, and remember. Use proper English construction so that when put in a sentence, it will work: “I just purchased a book from Amazon.”
Five Popular Business Naming Trends to Avoid
1. Don’t abbreviate your business name. Though it may make communication and correspondence easier, acronyms are sterile.
2. Avoid anything that ends in “global”, enterprise”, or “Inc.” They’re passé.
3. Avoid using your own name. Build your brand on your company, not on your name. That way, if you decide to sell your company one day, it will be easier to sell.
4. Don’t hyphenate your business name. It makes remembering and writing it difficult. Plus, a hyphenated web name is hard to read.
5. Avoid geographical names unless you’re trying to create a strong local affinity. The name “Willow Oak Center for Arts and Learning at Robertson County” works because this is a business targeted specifically for Robertson County in Tennessee.
Once you’ve found your name, consider trademarking it through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and registering it through the Secretary of State offices. If your business operates on the Internet, be aware that domain names are not registered through state or local government, so just registering them at domain registration sites is not enough to protect your great business name.
There is more to naming your business than just coming up with something that sounds good, is clever, or you just happen to like. Naming your business is a serious matter. Your business name reflects your image, your brand, and your position in the marketplace. Because your business name is crucial to your overall branding success and marketing efforts, make your business name count.
Make it great!