7 useful tips on choosing a name for your business
Choosing your business name can be challenging.
It’s also critical to success, because names hold power.
Human beings are hard-wired to seek meaning in names, symbols and colours. It’s rapid and unconscious.
This is why it’s worth the effort, time and trouble to choose your business name with care.
It could also save money in the long run. After all, it could be very expensive to change a brand name that has backfired!
Brand names are critical to success, because names hold power.
You know the feeling. You’ve developed a fantastic concept for a new business. You’ve got a great idea for a new product or you’re ready to launch a new service.
You test your ideas with people and they always ask ‘What is it called?
And you know instantly, from the ‘aha’ reaction or the polite smile, whether your business name works well.
Building your brand starts with your business name
Of course, your brand consists of more than just a name, just as it consists of more than just a logo.
As The Chartered Institute of Marketing says
The best brands create a special relationship with customers, based on intangible qualities that evoke strong emotional responses.
We have to start somewhere, so here are 7 useful tips to help you choose your business name.
Before we start, a quick note:
- The list includes tips we have found useful in brand naming.
- It is not designed to contain every single type of brand name.
- There are no magic fomulas or short cuts to success.
1. Be strategic in your choice of business name
Remember the well-known marketing secret – your business, products and services will evolve, because your customers, competitors, markets and technologies will change.
Nothing stands still. Ever. This is probably why you’re launching a new product or service. And this is why your brand name has to last. Even though your brand logo and your brand strapline will be refreshed every 4-5 years.
Here’s one way to look at it. Ask yourself a question along these lines:
‘If we call our business The Great Widget Company, will we still sell only widgets in four years time?
Or will we want to sell other products too?’
Or take a look at Dyson:
Dyson started out selling vacuum cleaners.
Now they sell vacuum cleaners, hand dryers, hair dryers, air treatment, lighting and there’s more to come…
Their product range has expanded and in the process they have added more meaning and value to their brand name.
2. Use the name of the founder
This is a popular, proven option for a business name.
It works, because from the start:
- Customers know, like and trust you
- You’ve got a great reputation
- It’s personal
In some business categories such as fashion, coaching, interior design and advertising it is almost the norm to use the name of the founder.
It is rarely a handicap – unless the founder, or their family cannot transition to a larger scale of business.
And every big brand starts out small…
Here are just a few examples where the name of the founder has worked well:
3. Borrow meaning
Instantly add cachet, colour or personality to your business by using an existing name.
In the short term you can appropriate it’s positive connotations.
Over time you will add your unique brand values and personality.
4. Make your business name EASY for your customers
Your new product or service is going to satisfy your customers.
They will absolutely love it.
Try to make it easy for customers to connect with your brand with ease:
- Is the name easy to say?
So people can say it out loud with confidence and pride.
If they struggle to pronounce your brand name it can create resentment or worse, turn into a joke.
- Make it easy to spell
So your customers can recommend you and find your website online with ease.
- Is it easy to remember?
You want people to remember your brand name – and not the brand name of your competitor.
5. Keep it short
This tip works hand in hand with Tip 4. It’s really about convenience.
We have a tendency to abbreviate names to save time.
This tendency could help you choose a business name that is authentic and relevant, yet still contribute to spoken ease and memorablity.
Here are a few examples – B&Q, WWF, IBM, Asda, Oxfam and GSK:
6. Be descriptive
It can be relevant and helpful for your customers if the business name describes:
- What you do or
- Your product range or
- The services you provide
The only note of caution here, is to refer to Tip 1: Be strategic. You won’t want to choose a business name that confines future growth opportunities.
7. Create a new word
This is a great option for creating a unique brand name for your business, product or service.
It is relevant for new disruptive businesses who are pioneering new products or services.
And it has worked extremely well for businesses founded some time ago.
It is a good option to explore when nothing else seems to fit!
This type of brand name creates curiosity amongst customers and may need some explanation in marketing communications in the early days.
When you decide to create a new word for your brand name, it is critical that customers feel the new name does fit your products or services in some way.
Created names can be based on merging the names of ingredients – like Persil or Oxo.
You could also put two words together to create a new word – like Dulux or Kissmetrics.
And of course you can create a single word such as Google or Marketo.
How do I create my new brand name?
There are quite a few start points for generating name options for your business.
The option you choose may depend on the size of your business and how creative you want to be.
You could DIY the brainstorming or use a branding specialist to help.
Whichever option you choose will require at least:
- One hour
- One room
- Lots of paper
- Many coloured pens
- Plenty of sticky notes
- And most of all – an open mind
We find that good start points for brainstorming include:
- Customers’ wants and needs
- Your business purpose (your big why)
- Product attributes and their functional and emotional benefits – from the customer perspective
- Your values and personality
- The roots and heritage of the business
3 essential checks
When you get to the top three or four contenders for your new business name, STOP before you get emotionally engaged with any of them. Check:
- Is the business name already registered? In the UK, Companies House is the place to use.
- Has the domain name has been registered? We use LCN.
- Can you trademark the name? Here’s a great place to start for UK readers – how to register a trademark
Once you have the results of these checks, you will have a shortlist of viable names ready to research with your clients.
Your business name is a strategic decision.
Make sure it is capable of evolving with your business and your potential new products and services.
Choose your name to last – because it could be an expensive exercise to change it.
Aim for your brand name to have meaning and relevance for your business and for your customers.
Try to be different from competitors’ names.
Ensure your brand name is easy to say, spell and remember.
Always check that you can register and protect your new name.
Have fun with choosing your new business name.
Do let us know how you get on.
Or if you prefer to get specialist branding help, please do get in touch here.
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