Thursday, 16 August 2012

How to choose a business name

Once you have gone through the business planning process and thought through the pros and cons of starting a business, and then this business and have a good idea of what your product is and who you are targeting - the next step is to choose your business name.

This may sound rather easy but as I found out when setting up my own small business, you spend an awful lot of time trying to decide what it should be called.  The fact is that although you can change it later down the track, as soon as you start operating you start building up goodwill in that business name and your customers will know you by that name from the start.  The name therefore is rather important. 

Here are some tips about what I think a business name should have:
  1. Simple:  You want your customers to remember what your business name is and more importantly you want them to remember it when they are recommending you to their friends.  The shorter it is the more people will remember it
  2. Easy to spell:  In the Internet age people are always going to Google your business name.  Make sure they are spelling it correctly the first time around.  You do not want to choose a name that is spelt in a weird or quirky way because the fact is that most people are going to type your business name into Google the way it sounds
  3. Inventing a word is more hassle than it's worth:  People think they need a new and innovative business name (something that is catchy like Google - which is not actually a word - it is derived from the word Googol).  You don't.  There are many businesses out there that use a combination of real words that become synonymous with the company (e.g. Facebook)
  4. It should have to do with your business in some way:  This is not compulsory however if people can get a general idea from your business name what the business does then you are one step closer to getting them in the door and buying your product and service.  Paypal is a great example of this.
  5. Beware attaching your name to the business:  I know a lot of great businesses have done this but imagine the situation where you are selling your business - the buyer of the business then has the right to do whatever they want with that business (which still has your name on the door)
How to brainstorm business names

Now that you have the basic requirements in your mind it comes down to choosing your business name.  I suggest doing the following:
  1. Make a list of every word that has to do with your company and then try joining a few together.  You will find that some words stick out to you more than others and as you start combining two or three words into a multi word name or a single amalgamated word you will start to find what you like
  2. Make sure it 'sounds right' - There are some combinations of words that just sound right together and give a great description of what the business does and is all about (Facebook and Paypal are just two examples).  If it doesn't really sound right to you or doesn't roll of the tongue too easily then keep trying
  3. Make sure you are constantly checking the availability of domain names:  In the Internet age your web presence is all important so you want to make sure that the name you want is available.  I suggest using a trusted Internet host to do the name checking.  DON'T use a cheap one or google 'name checker'.  These companies often instantly register the name you want and then charge you a premium when you go to buy it
  4. Run your name past friends and family:  I found that while friends and family will often feel bad about shooting down a business idea because they don't want to look negative they are more than willing to give advice on names.
  5. Once you have chosen your name - register it online and as a business name in your local area as soon as possible.  This does not cost a lot but can save you in the event that someone else wants that business name

No comments:

Post a Comment