When choosing your company name there are many things to consider. If you make the wrong choice at this stage it could have a detrimental effect on you business.
Below we have highlighted what we see as the key factors to consider when finalising your choice:
- Select a name that reflects your company’s direction. For instance, do you wish to utilise a family name, or a name that describes the service you offer?
- Check out your competitors’ names. This may help motivate your own ideas as to a name that will stand out. The name you choose should help your target market understand your business.
Final Checklist – to sum up:
- The company name needs to work within a company identity.
- Make sure your name is ‘web-friendly’ e.g. not too long and of course that the domain name is available.
- Are you legal? Once you have chosen your business name, make sure it falls within the required legal parameters. Don’t forget, you will need to register your business name with the correct regulatory bodies to protect against trademark infringement.
What names are the competition using
What kind of names do your competitors have? Make a list and compare them to spark your own ideas and to help you develop a name that really stands out from the crowd.
Who am I aiming at
You want your business name to resonate with the people you are trying to reach. Use what you know about your target audience to measure the relevancy of any names you come up with.
Be creative when thinking of the name
While you want your name to be easy to pronounce and remember, don’t skip over the value of creating a name that is completely unique. Not only can this make your business more memorable, but it can also provide a great opportunity for a back story, if your creative name has a special meaning.
Make sure it works from different ways
Think about how the name will fit into the everyday operations of your business, and what it will make others think and feel. Make sure it coveys a clear message and that you are aware of all of the possible connotations that may influence how your business is perceived.
Don’t Limit Yourself
If you choose a name that identifies exactly what you do, such as Joe’s Logo Design, you might be limiting the future growth of your business. Sometimes it makes sense to be a little more general, such as Joe’s Graphic Design, so you don’t have to revisit and possibly revamp your brand down the line.
Once you have a few possibilities, bounce them off of friends, family, colleagues and potential clients if possible. Ask for their initial impressions and suggestions they may have, and then add their feedback to your process.
Visualize the Brand
Your business name is more than just a name, it’s a big part of your company brand. Think in terms of your domain name, your marketing materials and how the name will essentially translate into all aspects of this new brand you are creating.
During your brainstorming phase, use some of the tools that are available to get inspired. A thesaurus is a must-have, and here are a few online tools to try out:
Keep It Short
Your business name won’t necessarily be more effective if it’s short, but it may be easier to remember. You can also consider using an acronym, but be careful – unless there is an obvious and memorable tie-in, using an acronym can make your name too generic to be relatable to your target.
Sleep On It
Put your shortlist of names aside for a day or two and then come back to it with a fresh perspective. You may feel differently about a name you loved before, or your working list may help you develop a new and perfect name when you review it again.
I used many of these tips years ago when I started my business, avertua. While it may not be the perfect case study in business name development, my business name has sparked many questions about where it came from (I made it up), what it means (it’s my take on what I provide: “a virtual solution”), and how to pronounce it (ah-ver-choo-ah). My goal when creating my business name was to get people intrigued and to be memorable, and it appears I’ve been successful in doing that.
How did you come up with your business name? What tips would you add to this list?
Consider this – assuming you optimize your Web site, post your business on local online listings, develop a social media strategy, and deliver a great service, your business name and all that it represents will go viral (and hopefully in a good way).
And, of course, once it’s out there – there is literally no going back. The impact on search engine rankings of changing your business name and the necessary efforts to re-brand all of your online and offline materials and update your domain name, can incur troublesome and time- consuming business penalties.
So back to our first point, getting your business name right the first time – is critical. Once you are happy with your choice, it’s also important that you take steps to protect your name against trademark infringement and register it with the right regulatory bodies for the purposes of taxation, incorporation, licenses, and permits.
Here are four tips to help you choose and manage your business name throughout the lifecycle of your business:
1) Choose a Name that Reflects Your Plans for your Business
How do you intend to use your business name? Many start-ups (especially freelancers, sole proprietors and family businesses) operate their businesses under their personal name. However, if you want to present a professional image you might want select a business trade name that can scale with you and this means doing some research. Consider how your potential name will look (on the Web, with a logo, etc.), sound (make it easy to pronounce), what connotations it will evoke, and how it distinguishes you from the competition.
2) Conduct a Trademark Search
While a quick Google search will help you avoid picking a name that implies association with other business entities, you should also conduct a trademark search – this Business Naming Guide from Business.gov walks you through the process of checking for potential trademarks infringement.
3) Pick a Name that is Web-Ready
There are several aspects to selecting a business name that will work on the Web – and you should do all these before you finalize your business name. Consider the following:
• Search for a Domain Name – This will help you identify whether you can actually set up a Web site with a domain name (essentially your future URL) that is clearly affiliated with your business and is keyword rich (e.g. www.virginiadecking.com is better than www.psmithcarpentry.com). To determine whether your preferred domain name is available, do a quick search in the WHOIS database. If it is available you will benefit from claiming it as yours early in the business naming process – long before you get around to creating a Web site. To learn how to do this is, read this quick Register Your Domain Name Guide from Business.gov.
• Is your Business Name Social Media-Ready? – In addition to checking availability of domain names, take time to conduct a search of Twitter and Facebook to ensure that no other businesses or brands are operating in the social media-sphere with your preferred name. Even if you don’t intend to use social media marketing to promote your business, any defaming or controversy that can arise online may potentially tarnish your brand.
• Don’t Overlook your Email Naming Policy – There is nothing worse than a lengthy and hard-to-spell business email address. So take some time to determine your email naming policy. Should you abbreviate your company name for email purposes? Will email addresses contain first and last names? There is no right or wrong answer, as long as you make it easy for your customers to communicate with your business.
4) Take Care of the Legalities
Once you have chosen a business name, you will need to register it with the right regulatory bodies and protect it against trademark infringement.
If you are operating your business under a trade name you are required by law to register that name with your local government and obtain a “Doing Business As” (or DBA) permit from your local government. Until then, the legal name of your business essentially defaults to your given name. Find out how to register your business name in your state.
Trade marking your business name, logo or other mark is optional – but it can be your most valuable business asset. If you only do business in one state you can register for a trademark at the state level; if you operate in more than one state you can register for a federal trademark via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. To understand more about trademark protection refer to this Patents, Trademarks and Copyright Small Business Guide from www.business.gov.