When starting a business, choosing a name is always one of the very first things on the agenda. After all, without a name there would not be a business, at least not a recognized one that would be very successful. Still, unlike naming pets (or even babies), there is actually quite a lot more at stake to naming a business because it will become the brand and identity of an endeavour that would hopefully make you a lot of money. It’s something you are going to print in posters, include in business cards that you hand out, and use in creating any social media accounts related to your business. To put it in simpler terms: business name is crucial; you can’t just choose one willy-nilly; and it’s one thing you absolutely must get right!
Tips in Name Choosing:
- Pucker up and KISS. This might besurprising, but the simpler the words you use, the better your name will actually be. Using overly complex and hard to understand words will only serve to make you less memorable, especially if the name needs to be pronounced in a certain way or intonation. Business names like “Cake Factory” or “PrintPlace” are simple, neat, and effective. “Discombobulation Nation” (I made this up) is not.
- Nonsense works too, as long as it’s catchy. Taking the naming further back to baby or toddler speak, original coined words—or as I like to call them ”nonsense”— can make for a well-branded business too. Think of all businesses you know and look at just how many original words there are, some examples being Squidoo, Hulu, Skype, etc. These used to just be meaningless, mashed up words, but now they’re household names that people won’t forget anytime soon. Take note, though, that these identities were NOT made overnight.
- Being visual is good… Studies have shown that the more senses you can attribute to something, the easier it is to remember, which is why choosing visual names is advisable. By this, it means that you should choose a name in that it would put certain pictures in people’s minds. “Red Box”, “The Boiling Crab”, and “Crocs” are some examples of this, contrasted by companies like “Pfizer” or “Unilever”, which don’t really give you much to imagine.
- As well as being VERBal. Note the capitalization of “verb”. If you can turn your business name into a verb, you will know that you are doing things right. “Google”, for example, has become the universal term for finding information online, while “YouTube” pertains to finding videos. Your business doesn’t even have to be online to become a verb; you just need to be creative.
- The English Dictionary is not your only problem. Even if you are catering to a mostly English-speaking population, avoiding language pitfalls is still a big must. Certain words might not mean much in one language, but if you translate it to other languages it might turn out to be completely inappropriate, funny, or downright offensive. If you don’t want to lose the business of these people, check Translate first!
- Be careful of trademark woes. Choosing a name and then later being confronted by a legal trademark battle is definitely not good for your business finances. Save some money in the long run by hiring professionals to check for any possible issues before pushing through with anything. It doesn’t hurt to be careful.
- Not all names are instant hits, but even horrible names have potential. Don’t despair if you are already stuck with a name that is far from being ideal. It could be everything wrong with what a business name should be, but it doesn’t mean there are no chances for you to turn it around and make it into a successful business. You have to put in a lot more time and effort, yes, but you can get there eventually.
- Changing a name is possible, but a big hassle. I feel that it needs to be pointed out that the option of changing a business name that just isn’t working is always open. However, this is usually more trouble than it is worth. If you feel that this is the right path for you then by all means do it, but you shouldn’t discount other courses of action first before jumping into a name change.
A lot of us probably have a lot of complaints about the names that our parents have given us since birth, because in a way whatever name we were given has helped shape us into who we are today. In business, I like to believe that it is the other way around, that is whatever the business name is, it’s the business and the people who run it that shape what that name will mean in the future. Either way, a name is an identity, so don’t lose yours no matter what.