Choosing a Business Name

No matter how great a business is, an inappropriate or poorly-chosen name can have a negative impact on its success – especially when first starting out. On the other hand, a business name that is appealing and memorable can do wonders for a business’s bottom line.

Some aspects of selecting a business name are subjective and reflect the personal wishes and preferences of the owner. There are, however, some mistakes that business owners make in naming their establishments that just don’t make good business sense. Avoid these and your business name can serve as a real asset that can help bring many profitable returns.

1. ABC
A business name that comes at the beginning of the alphabet can be a plus since many business listings are alphabetical; however, some businesses have taken this strategy to absurd levels. Using A, B, or C as the first letter of your business name can help, but be sure the name is something that makes sense and is something you like and are really comfortable with.

2. Use a Simple Easy-to-Pronounce Name
The idea is to get people to remember your business name and to be able to understand it, spell it and pronounce it. It should also be short enough to fit on a business card or display on a sign.

3. Allow for Growth
Choose a business name that is wide-ranging enough to give your business growing room. Geographic business names are popular e.g. Arklow Housecleaners. But what happens if your business takes off and you’d like to expand the geographic area you cover? The same goes for naming a business after one product or service. For example, the name “Joe’s Lawnmowers” would need to change if Joe decides to add other related products. Stay away from names that describe current fads or trends: If a new “Millennium Bookshop” opened in 1999, it may have sounded timely – nine years later, it would sound dated.

4. Create Your Identity

A business name should be one or more of the following:

  • Memorable
  • Descriptive
  • Imaginative
  • Distinctive

A good way to start is to write down key words that describe what your business is, what it does, and what pleases you about it. Use a dictionary and thesaurus to find different words that express these things. Also look for famous expressions that might pertain to your business.

So, let’s say Mary has a small business selling her delicious fruit tarts, and she considers herself to be the best at what she does. Mary names her business “Queen of Tarts” because: she loves the play on words, it expresses what her business is and does, and the word “queen” is perfect – she’s female and her thesaurus shows that “queen” also means “person of authority”.

5. Being an island

You’ve thought up 15 business names that are in the final running, and you think they’re all pretty good. Now is the time to get some feedback. Run those names by some close colleagues, family and friends. You might be surprised at the number of things they bring to your attention that you’ve overlooked. A little constructive objectivity goes a long way when choosing a business name.

6. Make Sure You Can Use a Name
Before settling on a final name, you’ll need to ensure that you won’t be violating someone else’s trademark rights to a particular business name. You want to avoid being forced to change your business name in the future and possibly paying damages.