If you’re lucky, all the pieces fell into place for you when picking a name for your new company. But for most business owners, this creative process is a little more tedious and requires more in-depth thought. So whether you’re thinking about incorporating your family name into the business title or are still contemplating something totally different, keep reading. There are some serious Dos and Don’ts associated with choosing the perfect name.
Over the years, we’ve worked with clients who launched their businesses with one name on the brand, only to realize later they should have put a little more thought into the process. Their company names weren’t reflective of the brand or vision of the business, making it difficult to see results in marketing and, well, pretty much everything else. We help businesses change their public-facing names in these situations to reflect something ideal for top-notch branding and much easier-to-market capabilities.
This blog will be helpful for anyone running a business, whether it’s a ten-year-old or two-month-old company. And while you can change your company name anytime, it’s usually best to start out on the right foot from the beginning. We’ll show you how by outlining what you should and shouldn’t do when it’s time to name your business.
Picking a Name for Your New Business
Small business owners have to take the time to give their business a name that is catchy, easy-to-pronounce and memorable. The right moniker can make it simple for potential customers to find your company in search engines while also making you stand out from competing businesses with generic names. If you are toiling over how best to maximize these benefits of a unique brand identity, take this advice to the bank. You’ll want to put as much energy into brainstorming a great name for your enterprise as you spend on developing your product, service deliverable, marketing strategy or even choosing a physical location.
Melissa’s Boutique: When she first began hand-picking fashion designs for her boutique, Melissa really just relied on her personal reputation with friends and family to help her sell. But now that she’s venturing beyond those in her immediate circle, she thinks she needs a company name that can resonate with ALL of her customers. While she’s a master at finding the best way to wear yellow and accessorizing the beachwear, she’s not really creative on paper and struggles to know where to begin. And it’s scary because she knows just how important picking a name for her business is to her future success.
Revisiting Your ‘Why’ and Your Target Market
If you’re still on the struggle bus and frustrated about finding the right business name, it’s always a good idea to start by getting back to the basics. Revisit your WHY and audience. Reflect on your passion and why your business deserves to exist. You’ll want to select a company name that embraces both your ‘why’ and resonates with your target market. And don’t feel pressured to make a business naming decision right now. It can sometimes take months to really have that light-bulb moment or stumble across inspiration that leads to a great name. What you really DON’T want to do is rush the process and pick something hastily that ends up being terrible and requires a rework in the future.
The Dos and Dont’s When Picking a Business Name
We can’t pick your name for you. But we can certainly guide you with some basic Dos and Dont’s about choosing a business name you’ll want to live with for at least the next 15 years.
Business Name Do’s
DO: Business names that define your service or product are great. Some suggest they’re even more successful than non-descriptive names. If you’re operating a food truck that serves tacos, it makes sense that your business name reflects “tacos” somehow, so hungry visitors know what your specialty is. Don’t just be “Kate’s Breads.” Instead, consider incorporating “baked goods,” “freshly-baked,” or “the baking palace” to better describe the product or community connection of the bakery.
DO: Choose a name for your new company that is easy to remember and is somewhat intelligible. And beware of choosing a terrible-sounding name when said out loud. The law firm of “Dewy, Cheatum, and Howe” might be branded better as “DCH Family Law Practice.” Go stand out on your back porch and holler the name out loud, as if you were a 1960s mom calling her kids home for supper. If it sounds dumb or you’re embarrassed, it’s probably a terrible name.
DO: Get outside opinions to help choose a name for your business. Sure, ask your friends and family for their ideas. But also consult professionals who run their own businesses. You can even consult with a branding firm like ours, where we have a clear understanding of the dynamics that play into a great business name. We also have an in-depth knowledge of the multi-angled approach required to pick a name on which you can build a strong presence. We can help you research your market and establish a company title that will resonate within your space.
Doug’s Dentistry: When it’s time to pick a name for his dental practice, Doug doesn’t think he has much room to get creative. After all, he’s the dentist. It’s his name on the building, right? But he’s been wondering if there’s a way to choose a name that speaks to his niche audience. For example, does he want to be the “Family Dentistry” in town or maybe the best “Corrective Dentistry?” He might want to explore a name that incorporates “gentle dental” in the title.
When it comes to identifying the Dont’s for choosing a business name, it’s best to consider these as they may apply to your unique situation. These simply are general mistakes to avoid.
Business Name Dont’s
DON’T: Should you use your name or not? There are two distinct camps in this scenario. In Doug’s Dentistry business, it makes sense to use his name. Most healthcare services, individually recognized consultants, legal firms, private equity firms or even restaurants can brand and market well with a person’s name or initials behind them. But in other business segments, especially if your name doesn’t carry any specific notoriety with your niche audience, using your first or last name, or your kids’ names, won’t help with your marketing and branding efforts. And remember, when your name is on the business, your personal identity and reputation will be associated with the success or failures of your business.
DON’T: Don’t presume because your business is small right now that you need to think small. The key to choosing your business name is recognizing a title that portrays you as bigger than you really are. There’s a sales book, definitely worth a read, called “Playing Bigger Than You Are,” and it talks about the advantages of structuring your company to seem bigger than it is when first starting out. Even if you’re in a rural area, with a smaller niche community in mind, think and brand big, especially when it comes to picking a name.
DON’T: Don’t get gimmicky for the sake of being gimmicky. You can’t laugh your way to success. And incorporating “best” into your business name likely won’t help either. That being said, it doesn’t mean you can’t get creative and fun with your business name. Ever heard of Big Ass Fans? Guess what they sell? Yep, incredibly large industrial-sized fans. Their name might make you chuckle, but it’s also descriptive and perfect for their brand. It clearly reflects the company vision and will likely stand up over time in every marketing endeavor they choose.
You Think You’ve Chosen a Name, Now What?
Once you’ve had your “ah-ha” moment and chosen an incredible business name, now what? Your job’s not done. Here’s a roster of next steps to pursuing and establishing your company name officially.
Conduct a Company Name Search: Check with your state and local registry of businesses to make sure you’re not duplicating a name or choosing one that’s too similar to competitors.
Research Trademark: Explore the trademark databases to avoid penalties associated with creating a business entity based on someone else’s idea.
Register Domain Names & Social Media Handles: You’ll need a website and social media handles that represent your company name and brand. Search to make sure what you want is available. Dotster.com is an excellent resource for checking availability or to see if your business name is a premium domain. We also recommend www.siteground.com as the best place to host.
Choosing your business name is just as important as establishing your brand. It starts with your WHY, and it takes time. Picking the right name now that best embodies your brand voice and message will save you thousands in rebranding efforts later. And when you’re ready to seriously brainstorm for your business name, let Awareness Branding & Consulting help! You might even have your “ah-ha” moment during our FREE consultation.