How to Choose a Business Name

How to find a good business nameDeciding on a business name can be tricky.

Your goal should be simplified uniqueness, but as any copywriter or branding expert will tell you:

you need a great strategy for simplicity to be effective.

Your focus should be on creating Spicy Vanilla instead of Bubblegum-Choc-Dipped-Sambuca-Laced-Brazil-Nut with a twist of Cumquat. You can do that by following these strategies:

1. Focus on the Business, not the name

I know you are eager and excited to name or rename your company, but don’t! If you name it too early in the startup or re-branding phase, you’ll create a company to fit the name, not a name to fit the company. Do your research, write 98% of your website content, start networking and test your message before you choose a business name.

I recently had a conversation with a budding entrepreneur who had his business idea and was now intently focussing on a name. Unfortunately, he still wasn’t clear as to what services he was going to offer, who he was offering it to or any of the other tasks he needed to complete before getting to the naming stage. Thankfully he’s now re-prioritised!

2. Do it the Smart Way, not the Hard Way

Use Google’s Keyword Planner or Wordtracker to research keywords and related terms. These will help you find the words and phrases people search for. By the way, if you are at this stage, you should already have completed this research to tailor your services, products, marketing and website content writing. Contact me if you haven’t done this yet! 

Assess whether the words and combinations have other meanings that could confuse web searches, increase your bounce rate or have unintended consequences. My brother humorously pointed out that “StartUp KickStart, SUKS as a company name”… after I registered it!

3. Be Spicy Vanilla

Being too clever in your wording can create problems, misunderstandings and repel. Just because you know the joke, double entendre or reference to your favourite 80’s band, don’t count on anyone else understanding it. The tricky part is, you don’t want it to be too simple and end up lost in the competitive white noise that could distract your clients. Your objective is to find the words that connect with your audience and make it easy for them to spread the word about you. If you are already running a business, make sure you truly understand what they want.

4. Question it

Are other companies already using it? Is it trademarked? How does it work as a domain name and is it available? Does it allow for your company to grow e.g. did you use your location in the business name? Are there cultural considerations if you are planning on national or international trade? Ask what it means to other people, people beyond your family, friends and support network.

5. Let it Roll Off Your Tongue

Reach out and speak directly to your target audience, your ideal clients and the eager beavers who can’t wait for you to launch. Test it on them. Does it roll off your tongue? Do they ask you to repeat it? Does it stimulate conversation or cause confusion and irritation? Is it difficult to spell or have tricky pronunciation?

Tell someone over the phone what your potential email address is.

As much as I still love the name Snowed Under Solutions, a name that resonates with busy business owners, I didn’t realise how long winded it was. When I began having to spell the email address over the phone, I realised I should have tested it earlier. It never occurred to me that I would have to spell it, as the words all seemed straightforward to me. When people asked me what my email address was, I started asking for their address instead to avoid the frustration of repeating myself.

The weird thing is, this actually worked in my favour. By getting their email address, it meant I popped up in their inbox and allowed me to set the next actions in motion. I didn’t have to wait for the prospective client to send me the initial email. This positive aside, I could have done that without the long email address, which was also really hard to fit on a business card!

Once you have implemented the above strategies in choosing a business name, remember, you have to:

love it

live with it

be able to use it throughout your business in words, images & feel

The key to creating a successful company is knowing the order to do things in. As much as we want our business name at the beginning, this is actually a step that should be largely organic after you have completed the essential steps in setting up your business.

If you want to delve deeper into what those steps are to KickStart your StartUp effectively and avoid the pitfalls, contact me, and we can work on the right balance of spice and vanilla!

As an independent outsider, I can provide a fresh perspective and informed advice, through a range of different Marketing Advice packages we offer.

Wishing you all the best in deciding on your new business name.


Rebecca Collett, Owner of Snowed Under Solutions

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