Coming up with a business name is one of the most exciting aspects of starting a business. You’ll have so many ideas circulating in your head, some good and some bad! There’s nothing quite like the thrill of having that eureka! moment when you think you’ve found the perfect name for your business.
Choosing the right business name is, however, probably almost as important as choosing the right business idea, so it’s vital to spend time over your decision. It’s usually the first thing to be seen, and judged, by potential customers or clients. If the name is judged poorly by people then they may take their business elsewhere.
It’s also how people will interact your business and discuss it with others. It’s the thing that people remember your business by, and what they use to search and find your business online with.
As such, getting the name of your business right it is an essential part of starting your business. We’ll be discussing what characteristics you should be looking for in a business name, and providing a checklist to help you decide which of your business name ideas you should be choosing.
What Makes A Good Business Name?
Your business name has to convey the right message to people; it needs to be in line with what your business does and what it stands for.
Take Innocent Smoothies for example. You must have heard of them, right? Their products are made of 100% pure fruit, hence the ‘innocent’. Together with their hand drawn-style logo of a smily face with a halo, the whole business conveys a sense of ‘pureness’ about what they are selling. It’s one of the best examples of a business we can think of that brings the idea, name and brand together to convey their products perfectly and really stand out.
Your business name should also be unique and rememberable. Unfortunately it’s getting harder to come up with a unique name so you should think about mixing words together to create a new one, making sure that it’s still relevant to your business. You could come up with a business name that is completely made up and meaningless, but it’s much harder in the long run to relate your business name to your products or services. Take Kodak for example. What has it got to do with photography? Nothing. But they have massive marketing budgets to make sure that you know what Kodak is.
How to make your business name rememberable? Most importantly, keep it in line with what your business does and stands for. Think Innocent Smoothies. Your business name should also be:
- Easy to say
- Likeable by your customers
Furthermore, you should think about how your business name would affect expansion of your business nationally and internationally.
Try to avoid using your own personal name in your business name, such as John Smith Windows and Doors, because it can hinder progress when selling and expanding. You may eventually want to retire early by selling your business and it’s easier to do so if the business name isn’t tied in some way to a particular person. Always try and think ahead about where you want your business to grow to and what you want to achieve, and plan accordingly.
You should also consider whether incorporating a location into your business name is appropriate or not, depending on the ultimate goal is for your business. If you are just looking to serve one area then a name such as Manchester Windows and Doors would be great, but what happens if you want to expand to Birmingham? You would need to start Birmingham Windows and Doors but how would customers know that these two businesses are related? That’s even if someone else isn’t already trading as Birmingham Windows and Doors.If you are planing to grow to other areas then having the location name in your business might no be so good. It’s worth thinking about.
Adding some humour or creating a play on words also works well. There’s a fish and chip shop somewhere called ‘Frying Nemo’. It’s make us laugh just writing it! We guarantee that if you laughed too you won’t be forgetting the name any time soon.
Coming Up With Potential Names
Just like coming up with a business idea, there’s no secret recipe for choosing a good business name. It will take some time to come up with a list of potential names for your business idea. It’s better to get the right business name now rather than down the line as many of the next steps of starting a business revolve around your business name.
The first step is to simply have a go yourself. It may take a while to come up with a decent list of name ideas but its worth it. Try to think of words that describe your business and use an online thesaurus to find even more words. Using these words you could try out an online business name generator to combine them into one word.
You can then ask your friends and family for feedback on your names, as well as asking for their own ideas. A brainstorming session where you throw ideas around will be very productive, as someone is bound to have a great idea. Even if you think you’ve come up with terrible ideas for names, say them or write them down. You never know, your terrible ideas might influence someone to come up with a great idea.
Head online and check out what other businesses are called in your market with a quick google search of your business idea. If your business idea is location specific, add the location into the search. It will give you a good idea of what other businesses are called in your market sector and hopefully steer you in the right direction.
Keep in mind the favourable attributes of a business name when coming up with ideas, in particular originality, easy to say, clever and rememberable. If you can’t come up with anything that you like, keep trying. It’s much better to take your time over something so important rather to proceed hastily with a less than adequate name.
Choosing the Right Name
Once you have a narrowed down list of your best business names then you need to check a couples of things against each one of them. In particular, whether the right domain name is available.
We would recommend using namechkr. It tells you what domains extensions (.com, .co.uk etc) are available for your business name, as well as what social media usernames are free, such as Facebook and Twitter. You ideally want a .com, .net or .co.uk domain name, and want to be able to have the social media usernames that are very similar to your business name. We go into more detail about choosing the right domain name and extension here.
A quick Google search can reveal a lot. Are there pages and pages of businesses in a similar field with similar business names? If so, you’ll find it much harder to stand out and get near the top of the Google rankings.
Along with the idea, you also need to believe in the name that you are choosing. You will be the one invested in the long term, and the one sell your service or product to potential customers. If you really believe in your business, including the name, you will more likely be able to convince them. Does it sound great to you, your family and friends when you say it out loud?
Make sure the name isn’t crude or offensive to anyone. If you think that your business idea has potential on a global scale, then it might be worth checking what your business name means in other languages.
Is the Company Name Taken?
This isn’t to be confused with the name of your business. It’s what you would call your company should it be formed via Companies House further down the line. It doesn’t matter too much what you call you company but it would be nice if your company name could match your business name. We like using Company Check when searching companies.
Is it Trademarked?
This means checking to see if someone already owns the intellectual property for a name in a specific field. For example, you can’t sell a fizzy drink called Pepsi because the name has been trademarked for the drinks class of products. You could try but the owners of that trademark would come down on you like a ton of bricks!
Simply type in your name ideas using the Intellectual Property Office website to see what comes up. Each trademark is associated with classes. You will need to determine what class your product or service is in so that you can compare it to existing trademarks. You can read more about understanding intellectual property for your business.
Perception is Key
More importantly than what you think of your business is what other people think of your business. In this case, potential customers. You want to make your business feel and look intelligent, sophisticated and trustworthy, and the business name plays a big part. Your logo also plays an important role in this, which is covered in a separate part of our guide to starting a business.
Checklist for Choosing Your Business Name:
The name for your business that you ultimately choose should be the one that ticks the most of the following boxes, but most importantly needs to be one that you believe in. You won’t be able to convey your business as well to other people if you can’t say your business name with passion.
- Conveys your business idea
- Social media channel names are available
- Isn’t trademarked
- Exact or similar domain name is available
- Exact or similar company name is available
If you see your business expanding further than your preliminary target area then you’re business name shouldn’t include the following:
- Yours or someone else’s name
- A location
Whether you have decided on your business name or not, continue through our guide to starting a business. You can always work on others areas of your business while keeping your business name at the back of your mind. The next chapter discusses understanding who your customers will be; your target market.