When we decided to publish an elaborate Startup Strategy series for our readers, we knew that we’ll have to cover subjects that will not seem important to potential entrepreneurs at first glance. Choosing the right business name is one such subject. Many budding entrepreneurs think that business names are simply cosmetic in nature.
However, the exact opposite is true. Choosing the right name is absolutely paramount for a business. This is the reason why we’ve decided to devote a full post to choosing the right business name. Choosing the right business name isn’t as easy as it may seem to you initially. There are multiple variables and elements that you should consider. Before that, however, let’s explore why choosing the right business name is important.
Why Choosing the Right Business Name Is Important
What’s in a name? That’s a quote from the great man Shakespeare himself. The fact that he came up with that phrase is clear proof that he wasn’t a business man though because no successful businessman will ever claim that names are not important.
The name you choose is going to have an impact on virtually every aspect of your business. The reason for this is that the name of a business often ends up defining how people perceive it.
For instance, the name you choose could help your business fit in or stand out from the crowd. Make no mistake, fitting in and standing out are critical for businesses in different sectors. A business in the financial sector will look to fit in rather than stand out because it wants to establish its credibility.
Similarly, your business’s name is going to have a say in how you market yourself to potential customers and clients. Moreover, your business’s name is also going to influence which values employees aspire to. For example, a smart, innovative name will often lead to an innovative out of the box culture while a basic, fundamental name will promote stability and constancy over creativity.
There is another reason why choosing the right business name is important and that is how it is going to affect you. The name you choose is going to psychologically affect your opinion of your business. From this perspective, choosing a name for your business is as important as naming your baby. After all, wouldn’t you much rather have a kid called Nelson rather than one called Adolph?
So, how should you approach the problem of choosing the right business name? Consider the following.
Important Elements to Keep In Mind
You’ll obviously begin by shortlisting multiple words and phrases that could be your business’s name. However, choosing the right business name isn’t only about shortlisting as many options as possible and then picking the one that you like best.
The name you choose needs to mean something. The name will only mean something if it reflects various aspects of your business. Therefore, while creating a shortlist, you should keep the following elements in mind.
- Consider how your business is different from other businesses providing similar products and services in the market. The name of your business should bring people’s attentions to your business’s Unique Selling Point or USP. USP can be seen as one or more qualities of your business which compels customers and clients to choose you over your competitors.
- Consider the kind of image you want your target audience to have. Do you want your business to be associated with creativity, dependability, youth, traditionalism, elitism, or social responsibility? Your name will have a bearing on how your customers and clients perceive your business as well as the kind of expectations they keep from your business.
- Consider potential practical applications of the name you choose. Will it be suitable for building marketing campaigns around? Will it be effective when it comes to getting a domain name for the online arm of your business? Will it look good on your letterhead and business cards? All these and many other questions pertain to the pragmatic side of choosing the right business name.
- Consider, also, whether the name of your business can be misunderstood or misinterpreted in any way. Choosing the right business name is as much about avoiding miscommunication as it is about conveying the right meaning as Reebok’s 1995 Incubus Shoes gaffe clearly shows.
Coming Up With Options for Your Business Name
- Focus on what you do: This is the easiest method. You focus on what your business does and work with it. If you clean homes, you get words like cleaning company (if it’s a company), janitors, sweep, cleanse etc. You get the idea. Another idea is to focus on your USP and try to bring that to the fore with your name. Using USP should be far more preferable when choosing the right business name because it allows the business to convey its specialties while helping it stand out from the crowd as well.
- Play with words: One of the most commonly used methods for choosing the right business name is to play with words. Whether you go with what you do, your USP or anything else, you can get multiple options by simply playing with words. You need for look for synonyms of your existing options, opportunities to combine two words while not losing coherence, and even antonyms in some cases.
- Alternate languages: It’s not just English that you can play with. You have all the other languages at your disposal too. Many businesses translate their most promising suggestions into Latin, Greek, French, and Spanish to get that exotic flavour going. However, you can’t just start using any obscure and complicated term as your business name. You need it to be relevant and relatively easy to understand.
- Use geographic references: It is also common for businesses to use geographic references when choosing the right business name. Names of neighbourhoods, towns, cities, and even nations can portray long standing tradition which can be beneficial in some scenarios. Smaller businesses that don’t expect to move beyond a particular geographic region in the near future tend to go for this method.
- Use a theme: Themes can also be used to create names. It isn’t rare to see fairy tale characters, sports, hobbies, and even movies being brought into play while naming businesses. While coming up with options, you could try multiple themes to name your business. However, you need to remember that using themes is one of the more out of the box and bold techniques. The reason for this is that when you use a theme based name, then you’ll have to base all your marketing efforts such as logos and advertisements on the chosen theme.
- Cheer it up: Humour can also go a long way in making a business stand out. Still, this is one of the trickiest techniques because one man’s humour may be another man’s distaste. Moreover, everyone’s idea of funny is different. Whatever you do, however, make sure that you don’t use common puns, corny metaphors, and cheesy references that make people roll their eyes as opposed to making them smile.
- Take suggestions: At the end of the day if all fails and you’re still no close to choosing the right business name, then it’s time to call in the reinforcements. You can ask your loved ones, friends, and colleagues to help you out. They may be able to come up with approaches and suggestions different from what you came up with. However, make sure that you don’t involve them in the actual process of choosing the right business name. The reason for this is that when you involve others in choosing the name, the end result turns out to be something basic and generic simply because you had to consider everyone’s opinions.