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Home » Start Your Business

10 Days to Start Up: Day 3 – Naming Your Business

When you’re starting out in business one of the most important decisions you’ll make is naming your business. Correctly chosen and your name will be talked about for miles around, chosen poorly and your business is doomed to obscurity and potential failure. This is the third part of the 10 days to starting a business series. In case you missed the earlier articles in the series you can catch up here. Some people believe a name should be informative so customers know immediately what your business does. ie Jones Plumbers. Other people believe that the name should be abstract so that customers can paint their own image of your brand ie. Apple.  Some people think that made up names are more memorable, others think that these are forgettable. The truth is, that any name can be effective if backed up by the right marketing strategy. In this article we look at how to come up with an effective name for your business.

1. Start with brainstorming names for your business.

Get a blank sheet of paper and draw a circle with the words “business name” in the centre. Then think of as many ideas as you can and link them off the central idea. Then go through all the ideas that you’ve come up with and see if anything links to that idea or inspires another idea and link to the original idea. The important thing is don’t dismiss any idea until you’ve finished the process. The review the ideas and decide which ones you want to keep and which ones you want to reject. Something to think about is a how a name sounds as sometimes a name looks fine written down but when you tell it to someone else it’s difficult to interpret. A good example of this is any names which have numbers in the name for example if the business name was Three, people will always be wondering is it three or 3?

2. Check the Web domain

Once you’ve got your shortlist together, check that the domain name is available as nowadays it’s very rare that a business doesn’t have a web presence even just for marketing purposes.

3. Test it Out

Test the shortlisted names on your ideal target customers as well as friends and family. What names do they like/dislike and why?   Eliminate the names that people don’t like or people are neutral towards. Then you should be left with a handful of choices or maybe it’s immediately obvious which your business name should be.

8 Comments »

  • Rick Byrd said:

    Hey Matthew:

    First, sorry it has been so long since I have commented on one of your posts. I have been reading them but I have just not been commenting lately.

    Anyway, picking a business can be harder than most people think. In my opinion, a small offline business with a small marketing budget should include their service in their business name, as long as the name is not too long. At the same time, if the business is a single business owner they might need to include their name or at least last name to build the brand of their name.

    When it comes to online business for a small business picking the domain can be tricky as well. When I selected MarketingWithRick.com I did not think about any exit strategy if I decided to sell my website. Obviously only someone with the name Rick would be interested. I do sometimes wish I had done this differently. I tought I needed to market my name but I have learned that it can still be done without my name in the domain name. Obviously, you are proof that you do not need your name in the domain name. So people need to think about a possible exit strategy when choosing a business name and domain name.

    – Rick

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hey Rick, thanks for the comment my friend. I appreciate you taking the time to do it. It can be a full time job at times commenting as there’s so much stuff around!

    When I started my own business I was conscious that people don’t always like to think they are dealing with a one person firm especially in consulting. Plus you never know how your business is going to work out. People may have the expectation that they are going to deal with you, when in fact they may end up dealing with an assistant. It’s never easy.

    For you, maybe you could create another “brand” with a redirect from your marketing with Rick site and eventually migrate one to the other. Although having said that, in the world of internet marketing being personal could be a distinct advantage to you.

    Matthew

  • Julian said:

    As would Rick said above coming up with a name for a business is a tricky task to do. There are lots of things to consider. But for me there are crowd sourcing websites like http://www.squadhelp.com where you get lots of cool and great name suggestions, that way you could save time and focus on other important things.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Julian, thanks for the comment and the link. I’m not familiar with Squadhelp, but it sounds like something that will be very useful.

  • Ana | Traffic Generation said:

    I think curiosity has a lot to do with a successful business name, Matthew.

    Take yours, for instance – I have no idea what it is, but it’s intriguing enough for me to want to check it out.

    In the end, I still believe that a more practical name would do better, but don’t discount the power of a brilliant name with a good marketing campaign behind it.

    Ana

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Ana, thanks for the comment.

    It’s interesting, there’s no right or wrong way. Take Microsoft for example, you can reasonably guess it’s something to do with software, but take the big competitors Apple and Google. What do those names have to do with computers or software – Google’s not even a real word, but has come to be from the power of the brand.

    So, more importantly than a good marketing campaign, or maybe in conjunction with a good marketing campaign, is a fantastic product or service – one that really hits your customer’s sweet spot. If it does they’ll love you forever and the name doesn’t matter.

    Matthew

  • Timo Kiander said:

    Matthew,

    I have figured out my company name – the .com domain is available 🙂

    However, there is one thing that kept me wondering …

    Is there a way to know if an existing company somewhere has a same name than my company? It may be possible (although very rare), that they haven’t registered the domain name (nothing can be found on Google either), but still there is the possibility for this.

    Obviously this could be easier to figure out if I would be operating in my home country only, but since I’m about to offer services and products through my web site, the whole world is the target.

    Cheers,
    Timo

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Interesting question Timo. My company name is The Big Red Tomato Company and is registered in the UK as The Big Red Tomato Company Ltd, which is a unique name. However, when I bought my domain name I just bought http://www.bigredtomatocompany.co.uk without really thinking about it. It was only after I got up and running that there is a Big Tomato Company also registered in the UK who sell pottery and squeezy tomatoes. So not the same line of business. The point being that my search to register my company name didn’t bring anything up with the same name.

    However, your business as a legal entity needs to be registered in the country that you reside in. So what you call your business for legal reasons and what you trade under can be different names. So as long as the URL exists you should be fine.

    I’m going to write a post on this because l think there’s another aspect that people need to be clear about. You have a personal brand and you have a product brand, gererally speaking a company is not a brand and if it is then it could be restrictive in terms of what it does. For example if Ford wanted to go into consulting or advertising businesses, then it may struggle becuase people don’t associate that with the brand. Similarly product names are a lot easier to remember than company names.

    So basically, what I would do is make sure that you can build a brand around your product or service and then get the URL for that.

    Hope that helps, Matthew