Do you get the slightest bit annoyed when someone mispronounces your name? I bet you do because your name is your identity, a basic block of who you are. This can give you an idea of how important a name can be for anything especially your business. Naming a startup can be a difficult task especially if it is about something common.
The business name you choose is the first thing people will hear and discuss. It’s a brand name with a strong influence on public perceptions. To convey the right image, you need a great name. A business name should be smart, catchy, and represent you and your company’s purpose.
Choosing the perfect business name can be hard, so here are twelve essential tips to help you get started.
1. Keep it simple and straightforward
As nice as a catchy business name sounds, if it is too eccentric it will go right over the heads of potential customers. Simplicity in essence means it should not be long or include special characters. The latter is more relevant for search engine optimization.
Your company name should be straightforward and indicate what the business is about or at the very least give an idea about the industry. For instance, if you launch \\Bolts// Bakery no one will ever be able to guess that you run a confectionary business.
2. Run a quick spellcheck
You may be inclined to change the spelling of a name to make it look cool, but that’s pretty cliché for modern business. Entrepreneurs tend to do that when another business operates with the same name. A different spelling may make it a tad bit different, but it may also confuse customers. And you do not want that! So stick with the actual spelling of the word you have in mind.
3. Consider something unique
While simple and correctly spelled, your business name should still have a hint of uniqueness. It has to stand out amongst a sea of competitors. Most importantly, it has to represent your brand voice. Also, you should know this is the most difficult task to achieve. However, help is out there. Start researching ideas on the internet and get your cerebral gears in motion.
4. Don’t be offensive or rude
Unless you are specifically going for a rebel persona, avoid business names that are offensive and downright rude. It may sound like a cool idea to seem like you do not care, but a bad company name can kill a business before it even takes off. It is too risky for a startup considering there are already so many hurdles to jump.
5. Make sure the foreign translation isn’t offensive either
We are easily enticed to use a foreign word to achieve brand uniqueness. However, it is stupid and costly to create a business name that is offensive in other languages.
Research word translations outside of your own. Similarly, if you’re considering quirky names like Yahoo or Google be careful. Be careful as you could cause offense. The world is quite big and yet at the same time very small.
6. Keep your ideal customer in mind
Customers are very important. Create buyer personas and study them closely. Consider if your potential business name would even resonate.
A classic example is the “generation gap” business name. If you target senior citizens, a novel name or connotation would be amiss. A 60-year-old may not understand what Viral Productions means. At best, they would think you sell medical testing devices or will give them some kind of disease. Put yourself in their shoes and look at the name from another angle.
7. Make it easy to pronounce
Your business name should be easy to pronounce. This ensures quick familiarity. A name that is difficult to pronounce will make brand-building difficult in the initial stages when you’re virtually unknown. That said, it should not be so common that people would forget it. Remember, half the struggle of starting a business is growing brand awareness and gaining name recognition.
8. Check for name availability
Two minds can think alike! No matter how catchy, unique or special you might think your business name is chances are someone has thought of it or registered it. Conduct a federal, state, and local business name search with the proper agencies at each level. If there is an existing business in the same industry, with the same name, you have to change or tweak it a bit. Ensure you have the legal right to use it.
If you are set on certain keywords, use a free business name generator, like Namabot, to research unique name ideas along with domain name availability. Even if another business has already snatched up your name in a different industry, you should avoid using it. It will be more difficult to stand out, especially if the other business is already popular. Not to mention, the possibility of legal action if it’s warranted.
9. Avoid geographical limits
When you start a business, think big. Don’t limit yourself to a geographical location unless you don’t plan to expand. If you undertake new opportunities in a different city, state or country you may face an uphill marketing battle. It will be very confusing for people to understand why you are relevant in their zip code.
There is nothing wrong with affiliating your business with a specific location. It could work perhaps. However, we live and work in a global way. So you have to shift your mindset. In all other cases, don’t put yourself in a box. You could expand overseas and your customers could span the globe.
10. Secure the domain name
We live and work in a digital age so having a domain name that matches your business name is really important. When people hear your company name, they will automatically assume it is your website’s name as well.
If possible, secure a familiar top-level domain (TLD) with a .com extension. While other extensions have gained popularity in certain industries (e.g., .co, .io, .org, or .ly) consider what works best for your audience. In general, other less common domain extensions, like .info or .net, can look dated.
11. Make sure you love it
What is the point if you are not feeling it? It is your idea and your business, so you should choose a name that makes you proud.
It is important for a business name to meet the conditions and qualities above, but more importantly, it should be perfect for you. When you say it out loud, you should love the sound of it and how it appears in your brand’s visual identity.
12. Test your business name with ideal customers
Create a short-list of possible business names and run them by friends, family, investors and most importantly your potential customers. Pay more attention to people who do not know too much about you and your business idea as their views will be objective. Family and friends’ opinion may not necessarily be impartial. These opinions may help point out something you perhaps missed out or would at least reconfirm which one is the best one for you.
Charles Crawford is a high-level entrepreneur and co-founder of Keeva Organics and Zensleep. Charles has been studying internet marketing, web design, and tech startups for years. He has been successful with multiple business ventures including affiliate marketing. Connect with @chazcrawford on Twitter.