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?
Broadly speaking, there are two schools of thought when it comes to business naming.
1. New and Quirky: The Googles, Odeos, Flickrs, Del.icio.uses, Yahoo!s etc.
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.
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:
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.
Marketing Results [Internet marketing consultancy]
BetterEdit.com [Online proofreading and editing business]
Loans Approved [Mortgage broker]
Customized Stickers [specialist sticker retailer]
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 factors to consider
Focus: Apex Bookkeeping is better than Apex Business Services.
Uniqueness / USP: Expert Plumbing is better than Century Plumbing.
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.
Common naming mistakes to avoid
Unfoccussed or irrelevant names: e.g. a florist called ACME Global Products.
Hackneyed names: e.g. Smith Building Services
Obscure aconyms: 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.]
Over-long names: e.g. Quintessential Management Consulting and Marketing Services.
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.