Your business name can make a big difference – positive or negative – to the branding or positioning of your business, and ultimately to your marketing results.
But how should you choose a business name? I’m sometimes asked by clients to help with the naming of a new venture, and I’ve assembled a list of ideas and concepts that I like to draw on to assist the process.
Quirky or Functional Business Name?
Broadly speaking, there are two schools of thought when it comes to business naming.
1. New and Quirky Business Names
Quirky neologisms have the advantage of being memorable and unique. This type of name can work well for a mass-market product or service – especially when it’s a first-of-its-kind offering.
Examples of new and quirky business names;
A major positive of going for a new or quirky business name is that you can guarantee it is going to be unique.
If you’re in a non mass-market industry, I recommend that you avoid quirky names and go for a name that is descriptive and functional instead – something that a prospect can understand immediately.
2. Descriptive and Functional Business Names
A good descriptive name should communicate in 1 to 3 words as much as possible about what your business does, and if possible, communicate your unique difference.
Examples of descriptive and functional business name;
- Marketing Results [Internet marketing consultancy]
- BetterEdit.com [Online proofreading and editing business]
- Fresh Flowers [Online flower delivery]
- Loans Approved [Mortgage broker]
- Fantastic Furniture [Home and furniture]
- Customized Stickers [Specialist sticker retailer]
- UPS – United Parcel Service [Parcel delivery service]
- Fitness First [Gyms and fitness]
- Petbarn [Pet store]
- IGA – Independent Grocers of Australia [Grocery store]
- Watch Station [Watch retailer]
When thinking of a descriptive or functional business name, consider your domain name as well.
Is the “.com” available to purchase? Is it easy to remember? Can people confuse it with anything else?
It’s hard to come up with a truly magnificent name, but it’s not so difficult to think of one that’s fairly good.
Other business name factors to consider
Focus: Apex Bookkeeping is better than Apex Business Services.
Uniqueness / USP: Expert Plumbing is better than Century Plumbing.
Need help creating your unique selling proposition? Check out our step-by-step guide…
Cadence: The way your name sounds when spoken aloud. Does your name flow off the tongue, or is it difficult to say? This point may sound slightly strange, but it can have a big effect on memorability.
Keywords: As mentioned above, functional keywords contain more communicative power than neutral words. Functional keywords may also have positive search engine optimization effects in the online arena.
Legalities: Is your business name available to register? Can you lodge a trademark?
Common naming mistakes to avoid
Unfoccussed or irrelevant names: e.g. a florist called ACME Global Products.
Hackneyed names: e.g. Smith Building Services
Plain or boring names: Even if you go for a descriptive or functional name for your business, try to get creative and make your name memorable.
Obscure acronyms: e.g. WDS Marketing. [IBM was International Business Machines before it became IBM. Only by being first was it able to later gain traction with the name IBM.]
Obscure meanings: Don’t spend forever trying to come up with a mythological meaning for your business name in the hope that you can tell everyone about it. The goal isn’t to confuse people but to inform and inspire.
Overly long names: e.g. Quintessential Management Consulting and Marketing Services.
Cultural mishaps: It’s rare, but be sure that your business name doesn’t mean something totally different (perhaps rude) in another language.
Copycat names: Try to avoid copying another business name (especially in your niche) – it will end up confusing people about exactly who you are and what you do. Do your research.
Additional resources on naming a business
If you’re still stuck coming up with a business name, these resources will help out…
Shopify have a tool called the “Business Name Generator“;
This video created by Entrepreneur is an interesting summary of what it takes to name a business;
This SlideShare presentation provides some additional tips on naming your business;
And here’s an infographic on choosing a company name in Australia from LawPath;
Infographic courtesy of LawPath.
The above guidelines should help you come up with a great business name. Even if you bend a few guidelines above (as you sometimes have to do), starting off with a strong name is the first step toward making your marketing work.