How to Name Your Business

You’ve dreamed of it – a sunny day, your new office or storefront bustling with customers coming in and leaving with satisfied smiles on their faces, cash registers ringing with delight.  But as the picture zooms out, a haunting empty space right where the name of your business should be hits you and wakes you up with a sudden jolt.  You don’t know how to call your business!

You start dwelling on it over a cup of coffee, but later on realize it’s no easy task.  There are just too many ways to name your business, and a name can make or break your new venture.

So how do you go about it?

Start with the Basics

You have a vision, you have a business plan, and you have some marketing ideas to help you differentiate yourself from others in the same industry.  Build up on that.  Don’t just pick the first word you come up with, and later on change the business identity you initially had in mind to suit the name you chose.

Instead of getting your strategies to fit your name, have your name fit to your mission – vision statement.  And everything else should fall right into place.

Word Play

Grab a dictionary and you’ll be surprised at just how many English words are being used today.  For starters, you can scratch out overly used adjectives like “Finest” or “Quality” in naming your business.  You don’t want your business to be lost in a throng of companies with similar names.  Try to come up with something that best represents your business, a name that your clients can relate to and hopefully identify with from first sight.

Strike a balance between creativity and simplicity.  Don’t go overboard with your creative inputs and come up with awkward sounding names you’ve coined out of an adjective and a noun, say “QualiServ” or “HapiDays”.  On the other hand, going for generic but catchy names like “Ice” or “Loft” is tricky – not only will your clients not know what you do at first glance, but you’ll have to build really strong and effective marketing strategies to fill up the “emptiness” of your name, so that you can be identified by your market later on.  It could be costly, and might mean the end of your business, if not done right.

In deciding whether to just risk it, consider the nature of your business.  If you are a marketing consultancy firm, clients will be impressed if you have a name with an underlying story.  It’s brilliant, it piques the interest of your target market, and clues them in on your creative talents.

Think Long Term

It’s comforting to name your business using your town’s name, especially when you start out as a local store.  But think big, and think long term.  This can be confining if you later on expand your business to other locations.  Clients might think you only serve a particular area if you go by your local business name, when in fact you have branches all over.  Think of this – Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining is now called 3M, Kentucky Fried Chicken now goes by the name KFC.

Test Your Name

The best way to know if it works?  Test it.  After you’ve narrowed down your list to three or four names, try to get your potential clients involved.  Get their inputs.  You can even print sample business cards, and see which one captures their attention the most.  Practice saying it over the phone, out loud, and to potential clients.

Legal Concerns

When you have a name in mind, be sure to have it checked with the proper government agency in charge of registering trademarks.  As a start-up business, you don’t want to be surprised by expensive and time-consuming lawsuits for trademark infringement.

Hiring an Expert

If you still find yourself stumped and undecided, leave the matter to the experts.  Backed by years of experience and knowledge in name-making, they can help you identify the name that best represents and highlights your business and its strengths.  This may come at a hefty price tag, but will save you a lot of trouble and expense in the long-run.  Usually, this also comes with logo design, business card / letterhead printing, to really jumpstart your business.

Once you’ve settled on a name, build up on it with enthusiasm and zeal.  Your business deserves no less than a name which can withstand time and dynamic markets, on your way to building a reputable and strong business identity.