#7 Things When Choosing Your New Business Name
Here are seven things you need to know when choosing your new business name
By Nial Adams
If you’ve ever started a new business, been involved in a startup, or are just about to, then you’ll know that one of the big questions is “what do we call the business or company?”.
What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot really depending upon how you approach this task. Unfortunately most people focus on completely the wrong things.
Here are some of the most important things that you need to consider when choosing a new name for your business:
#1. It’s Not About You –
There are a few basic formulas that the majority of people follow when starting a new company and giving it a name. If you have sole responsibility for this then you can pretty much choose whatever you like.
Some people will choose a new business name that has some personal significance to them. It could be connected to their own name, a location or simply something that they like or have an interest in.
Creating some sort of hybrid from the names of your children, or dreaming up something weird and quirky just because you like it is a classic mistake and definitely to be avoided.
Above all, you need to remember that what you call your business will never be more important to anyone else than to you. What your customers will care about is what you can do for them and how easy is it for them to understand this.
So avoid choosing (or creating) a new business name simply because it has some personal meaning to you. It could have no relevance to your products or services and do nothing to explain or express what your business is about. Put yourself in your (would-be) customer’s shoes first and foremost.
Consider and test your business name options with people who don’t know anything about you or your new business and check their response. You can do this easily by joining a group or business forum online, such as LinkedIn or Google+. Just be careful not to give away too much information at the early stage, as you’ll want to protect your intellectual property and copyright.
#2. Say What You Do –
One immediate choice is do you pick a name that simply sounds nice, or do you go for a title that says what your business is all about?
People reading or hearing your company name will make a judgement in seconds. If they have to stop and work it out then it’s not a good choice.
Marketing noise is everywhere and we are all constantly bombarded with adverts, promotions and marketing messages of every type. So making it clear and obvious is the first thing you should consider.
If you’re business is a cleaning company, for example, there can be no merit in calling your company ‘Winchester Solutions’ or ‘Anubis Contractors’.
Far better to use a name that actually says what you do; ‘Winchester Cleaning Contractors’ or ‘Clean Me Now’ for example are far better and ways to let people know what business you’re in.
Keeping simple and obvious really is the key; don’t try to get too clever. Despite what you think, people won’t spend time trying to work it out, they’ll just move on.
#3. Aardvark What?
There was a time when business owners would look for names or titles simply because it meant that they would appear first in a directory (like the Yellow Pages). This can still be a good idea but certainly isn’t more important than choosing a new business name that’s clear and easy to understand.
Searching for businesses online is quite different these days; the quality of your listing and how complete it is will be far more important for you.
#4. Short Versus Long –
The perennial question of do I go for a short or long business title is easily answered. Keep it as simple and as short as possible, while still expressing the key message you want to convey.
Remember you will be using your business title in a whole host of situations; on business cards, on your website, perhaps on clothing, packaging or even sign-writing on vehicles. So consider how easy it will be to use this in print and online.
The longer your business title, statistically the more chance there is for someone to get it wrong, misspell it or struggle to pronounce or remember it.
#5. Keep It Comfortable –
This may seem a strange way to think about it but if you are going to use your company name a lot, every time you answer the phone, as one example, you want to make it easy to use.
The same is true for your customers and contacts; the name needs to be simple for them to read, easy to understand but also easy to pronounce.
I’ve seen some horrendous business names that use silent letters, strange spellings and completely random words or expressions that have no meaning or relevance. Even worse though, people actually struggle to pronounce these names and this leaves them feeling awkward and even embarrassed.
#6. Do Your Checks –
So, you’ve got a name that you like, it makes sense, it’s clear and obvious and you’re ready to take the next step.
Now you need to do the leg work to confirm if this name is available to use. Of course you may need to run the standard checks on Companies House if you’re planning to go Limited. And this is where many people stop – big mistake!
It’s important to know that your new company name is not being used by other businesses and that your name or title is available across a number of platforms.
Spend dedicated time doing your due diligence and confirm if any other company is using a similar title or name. They don’t have to be Limited Company, anyone trading with a title can claim to have used this as part of their corporate identity and if you’re copying it, especially if you’re in the same industry’ then you could end up with a big problem. So do your checks thoroughly.
Google is a great place to start when researching a new business name but don’t just look for websites, search business directories, news items and shopping channels to ensure that the name you want isn’t already being used by someone else.
Secondly, remember that it’s almost certain that you’re going to want to build your marketing online and this means using your company or product name across a whole range online environments. Even if you’re not thinking about these at the very early stages, you should still check to see if you can claim titles and pages for the following:
a) Your domain name (URL) – if you’re a UK business always go for the .co.uk suffix but check that .com and others are available and secure these; you don’t want someone setting up a spoof site with a better website address.
b) Facebook – check to see if you can register a Page with your new business or product name. This will be really important. You can register it and hold it (for a limited time) even before you start the business.
c) Likewise, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Ipatter, Foursquare, Skype, etc. are all places that you might want to register an account or business page. So check all of these before to confirm what name you want to use first.
#7. Company or Product?
There’s one final point to remember, which is really important. Your actual company name is often nowhere near as important as the name you give your product or service offering.
Let me explain; you could have a company called ‘Shipfields Estate Lettings’ but your actual business offering could be called ‘Find My Home Fast’. This service or product title may be much more important to you in the way you promote or market what you do.
With this in mind you may want to choose a new business name that is broader and less specific and then focus on a name, or several, that will be used to promote the service or product offerings.
This can be very important when choosing your website domain. For example, the domain www.shipfieldestates.co.uk has very little SEO value in comparison to www.findmyhomefast.co.uk as this contains more relevant keywords that are likely to mirror the search terms people are using.
Again, you’ll need to do a lot of checking online to ensure that you have the right to use the title, and again, make sure you can reserve or claim pages and accounts for this title across the main platforms you may want to use now or in the future.
So before you dive in and choose a new business name, take your time and do your homework, you’ll thank me in the long-run!
PS. If you want to learn more about this concept you’ll find it in Module 2. Your Marketing Strategy Toolkit of Make Marketing Work – the new way to learn marketing online.
PPS. If you want some feedback on your idea for a new company (or product) name, feel free to ping me an email with your ideas and I’ll happily drop you a line back with some feedback to help you.
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Disclaimer: any names given in examples above are not meant to represent any specific company and are used as examples only. Any similarity to actual company names is coincidental and not intentional.