Your business name is one of the most important decisions you will make as a small business owner. A good name can generate the perception of integrity, professionalism and/or value for money. However, a poorly chosen name could ward off potential new clients, and give the impression that your business is pointless or even offensive.

What’s in a name

If you haven’t thought of any possible names or the current contenders aren’t suitable, the first step to take is to relax, a perfect name does not appear straight away.

Play around with different words and ideas for a while, as this will help you find a name to fit your business and the intended market/audience. Going ahead with the first name you think, which may not be appropriate, will eventually result in further costs later on.

These are some quick tools to get started:

  • A dictionary or thesaurus – This gives you endless options and allows you to gather similar words to create a potential name
  • Free or low-cost naming programs – There are multiple computer programs that will generate names for you based on given keywords you provide

Draw up words that both appeal to you and are relevant to your business. Try multiple combinations of these words and then short list a few potential ones for your business.

Make it memorable

Creativity in a business name can help it to stand out, but it must still be easy to spell and remember. It only takes one misspelled letter when searching your web address, for potential customers to be unable to find the server. Worse, they may be taken to another businesses site.

Think about how your name would sound when spoken or how easy it is to spell when searching. Therefore, short and simple names are much easier for these kind of referrals. SMS abbreviations or slang should also be avoided unless it will attract your target market and not discourage customers.

Using humour

You might be tempted to use a play on words or humour within your brand name. The effectiveness of this depends on your business nature and target audience. Whether you need to portray a professional image will also determine if this is appropriate.

If you’re at all uncertain about the name:

  • Get the opinion of close friends
  • Run a poll to potential customers
  • Get advice from a professional marketing expert.

Invoke an image or positive connotation

While it can be difficult, the name should invoke feelings or images, particularly to what the business offers. Doing this allows the names to be easy to recall and link the positive feelings with your products/services. For example, naming a store that sells skis and snowboards Adventure Ski and Snowboard is more effective than Dave’s Ski and Snowboard Store.

Reference what you offer

If you are looking to spend less on marketing, a name that tells potential customers exactly what you offer is a great way to minimise it. For example, a mobile coffee business called Express Coffee is simpler to market than one called Red Yak.

Doing this is also better for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and overall Internet advertising. If someone is searching for a particular product or service and it’s in your business name, your result will be more prominent results. This will give you an advantage over competitors who may have more abstract names.

Testing the market

Testing the market is a good way to gauge responses before taking the plunge.

  • Ask family and/or friends to comment on the name – they may point out any issues.
  • Get feedback from existing customers or a sample of your target demographic.
  • Talk to a marketing professional for advice before you make the final decision.

These tests are also a valuable method of generating a profile for your business which could result in future sales – of course, once your business name is chosen.

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