Choosing a name for your business can be a stressful process. You want to choose a lasting name, and it should be one that will embody both your values and company’s unique characteristics. The name of the business has a bearing on its success and brand, making it important to get it right.
The following guide will help you choose a perfect name for your business.
Create A List
Start by having a brainstorming session. Write down as many names as you can come up with. This can be done alone, or with a group of friends over coffee. At this stage don’t worry about how the names sound. So often the brilliant name comes from the not-so-good names.
Put Your List To The Test
Once you have the shortlist at place, the next step is to see if any of the names have what it takes to be ‘The One’. The following six questions will help you decide which of the names carries the day:
Is it appealing?
It would be foolish to pursue a name if your target audience doesn’t like it. Test your list to potential customers. If they react positively to a name, it could be the winner. If they seem to be thinking about it, then it’s a no.
Is it unique?
To decide if a potential name has got it, ask yourself how distinctive it is. Is it interesting enough? An interesting name can sell the company by itself. It makes the company stand out, and it’s a lot easier to remember. It’s more likely to be trademarked compared to regular names, which helps shield it from copycats.
Being an interesting name doesn’t stand out on its own. For a name to be unique it has to be different from other brands and businesses. It shouldn’t sound like any of your competitors so you do not confuse customers.
Is it memorable?
Choosing a business name which is easy to remember will give you a valuable added advantage. If customers remember your name they are more likely to buy whatever you’re selling. The other advantage is they will most likely recommend someone to you if asked. Word of mouth is a major form of advertisement, and brings you new customers.
Avoid long words that are difficult to pronounce or spell. Stick to easy names that are meaningful, not only to you but also the target audience.
How does it reflect in your uniqueness?
A name should ideally give potential customers a preview into how you conduct your business. For instance, if you solve problems in a fun way then a funky name will do. This approach will help you attract like-minded customers.
It is not easy to come up with a name which fits this approach, but it is worth a try.
Will it make sense in 5 years?
When you are starting a business, the product or service you are offering is quite focused. But as you grow over the years you may decide to expand, or change your approach - either by targeting new audience, or by adding additional products and services.
If there is any chance of expanding your venture, it is worthwhile choosing a name that can grow with you. Avoid picking a name which targets a particular clique of customers like age group, belief system, gender or cultural group.
Is it available?
This is a critical step. Before going far you need to confirm its availability in, trademark, domain/social media and trading name.
As a start-up, you are encouraged to be bold when choosing names. Here are ways to turn that idea into a name worthy your business:
Avoid using puns: puns are risky to any business. When you land a good one it will stick, and you don’t want it to be too cutesy or overused.
A strong name should be simple: make it easy for the target audience to pronounce, recall your name and get its meaning. Remember - any time you have to explain your business name or apologize for it, you are devaluing your brand.
Pick name which is a wordplay by itself: this theme carries over to verbal branding and marketing. For instance, a food company can call its blog ‘the kitchen sink’.
For better linguistics you can outsource services to experts such as online freelancers.
This is the most important search to do. Having a trademark gives you the exclusive rights to use it in any of your ventures. There are five categories of trademark strength.
Suggestive marks - these indirectly refer to services and goods associated to them, and require the creative mind of the consumer to crack them. This secondary meaning strengthens the mark. For example, speed can be named Greyhound.
Fanciful marks - these are completely made up marks which had zero meaning before they were used as the trademarks. It is considered the strongest mark, as its meaning only bears relevance to its own service or goods. For example, Kodak.
Generic marks - these marks are not protectable, as they represent a whole generation of goods or services. For instance if you’re selling your televisions under the brand of TV, the judge will throw your case in the bin.
Descriptive marks - these marks describe the services and goods which they offer, and are used to market them. These marks are considered weak, though you can protect them if you prove the consumers associate them with one company. This is made after five years of widespread marketing. For example, National Wholesale Liquidators.
Arbitrary marks - these consist of normal English words where the meaning has no relationship with goods or services being offered. For instance Apple, where apples have nothing to do with computers, making it a strong and protectable trademark.
Visit the IP Australia website, and run a search for your business name to see if it’s registered. If you are not familiar with trademark laws, it could be advisable to contact a commercial lawyer to help you with the process.
Business (Trading) Name
Unless one is trading under their legal entity, for example Jack Pty Limited, you are required to register your business (trading) name under AISC. Go through the AISC database to find out if your name is available. It’s possible to have a trademark name which is different from your business (trading) name. Bear in mind that registering a business through AISC doesn’t give you the exclusive rights. If someone else has the trademark, they can prevent you from using the name.
Domain names/social media handles
It’s best if your trademark, domain and social media handles have the same name. In the age of the internet we are living in, most customers will find you by conducting a search on the internet, or by looking for you on social media.
Here are some insights in creating memorable and strong domains:
Short won’t work - if you are looking for a domain with six characters, it won’t work. Most of them are taken by squatters or legitimate companies.
Don’t worry about trends - much emphasis is put in placing keywords in your domain name. This is a short term strategy, as Google changes algorithms time to time. Another method is to buy keyword landing pages, and direct them to your business page.
Play around with names - phrases such as lightmyfire.com, used by a company selling candles, captures the mind.
Naming a business can be tricky and take time, but with the above guidelines and insight you can find something that works.
Do you have any comments or questions you would like addressed? Please share them in the comment section.