Business Names

How To Decide On A New Business Name

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

One of the biggest decisions you’ll make in business is what to name your business. Many of us spent hours agonising over this one decision and in some cases regretted our decisions later.

This article is a guide to help you name your business right the first time along with some mistakes that businesses can make (including one of my own oversights I made with my first business).

When you are deciding on a new business name, there are a few critical rules that you need to adhere to.

Your new business name needs to be:

  • Functional
  • Simple
  • Memorable

Once you understand each one of these rules, it will be much easier for you to choose a business name that defines your business vision and increase your profits.

Your New Business Name Should Be Functional

This is simply defined by the niche of your business. If you base your name on the nature or function that your business is going to carry through, you’ll have a  business name that will be functional.

Having a functional name is very beneficial if you are planning to establish your brand name. Your business name will be your 24/7 spokesperson because the name will explain everything about your business. There will be little need for any additional details.

Many businesses have taken this route to establish their business name based on the functionality of the business. Some of the most popular names are:

  • YouTube
  • Soundcity
  • Copyblogger
  • Microsoft
  • Facebook
  • Entrepreneur
  • CNN (Cable News Network)
  • IBM (International Business Machines)
  • Hotmail
  • Burger King
  • WordPress
  • GE (General Electric)

The most positive thing about having a functional business name is that the name is often self-explanatory. Take a look at the previous list of names. Even if you are not familiar with the business, you can make a safe assumption to what product or service they offer.

This is a time saving technique that businesses use so they can utilize less time explaining their product or service, and more time interacting with customers and new prospects.

When your prospective customers make contact with your company, there is absolutely no confusion as to what industry you are involved in. This is why using this rule as a branding technique is so successful.

You Want Your Business Name to Be Simple

The next way you can choose a business name for your product or service is by determining how simple you want them to be.

You can spend hours trying to come up with the exact match domain names (a domain name is your website address) for your business, but in the end, you want a name that is easy to remember for your customers.

You also want the name to be something that is not too difficult to spell or pronounce. This will only cause added frustration to your prospects, and turn them away before you ever get the chance to explain how your business can benefit them.

A name that is hard to remember can easily become forgettable, and that is the last thing that you want.

You can actually combine both of the above rules to make a functional business name simple. Just remember that it has to do two things. It has to explain what your product or service is about in an easy to remember way.

Remember: Our society has become extremely fast paced. This has caused a lot of people to have very short attention spans.

You do not want to introduce your brand new business to the public with a complex name that is hard to spell and pronounce.

Some businesses have decided to avert the issue and create acronyms for their businesses. They have taken advantage of the saying, “Keep It Simple, Stupid”.

If you are contemplating a business name that even you have trouble pronouncing or spelling, you should reevaluate the name and change it.

Some businesses that have chosen simple names are:

  • Apple
  • Ford
  • Dell
  • HP
  • Nike
  • Virgin
  • FedEx
  • Starbucks
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Forbes
  • Blackberry

You Should Choose a Business Name That Is Memorable

The last technique that you can use to choose a new business name is to create a name that is memorable.

The goal of this technique is to choose a name for your business that is catchy, or sticky.

These are the names that people remember because they are fun to say, or because they are different. This is the desired result you are looking for. You want your name to resonate in the minds of your prospects.

A memorable name may or may not specify what the function of your business is, but it most definitely is a name that will attract the public’s attention. Do not worry if your critics think that your name is weird or quirky, you are choosing a name that will help you stand apart from your competition. You are making a deliberate attempt to be different with a name that will make prospects curious as to what your product or service is about.

This is actually the opposite of having a functional name. With a functional name, you are looking to describe your business. With a memorable name, your goal is to create attention and be unique. A memorable name makes your prospects wonder what you can do for them that is out of the ordinary.

The other difference between a functional name and a memorable name is that a functional name does not pique the interest of your customer base because most of the time, they can already guess your product or service within the first few seconds of looking at your name.

With a memorable name, it is not spelled out to them what you are about, and the whispers and rumors begin about your business. It can be good publicity for you to just put your name out and see how fast public interest grows.

This is exactly the type of marketing promotion that you need. The longer you have someone wondering what your business is about, the longer it stays on their mind. They can become obsessed about what you are offering.

The following businesses have taken advantage of this, and have created names that have become iconic:

  • Google
  • Sony
  • Motorola
  • Kodak
  • Twitter
  • Pixar
  • Squidoo
  • Acer
  • Verizon

Typical mistakes people make when naming their business

When you come up with your name, you’ll want to run it through a few simple tests;

  1. Check to see if you can also get the domain name. Domain names don’t naturally fall into ownership of the business. There’s nothing worse than going through the trouble of registering a business name then discovering that the domain name is already owned by someone else.
  2. Watch your acronym (meaning your abbreviated name). As an example, it’s not a good idea to call your business “American Striped Shirts” = “ASS”. (This is something that often happens!)
  3. If you’re going to use Adwords as an advertising avenue (and you probably should) there is a restriction of 35 characters for your display URL – (which includes the www and dots). It’s far better for your brand to fully display your URL than an abbreviated URL. As a bonus, if you have a short URL you can actually add additional characters that are benefit driven. EG: You could have as your business domain and in the display URL you could use
  4. Watch for easily mistakable replacements. As an example, one of my businesses is called ‘Your Building Broker’. However, I had to register the domain name ‘My Building Broker’ and redirect it to the correct website as many people mix up the names.
  5. Consider cultural relevance. In some cultures phrases can be offensive or have a different meaning. In Australia, the word ‘thong’ refers to something you were on your feet. But many people in other parts of the globe think it refers to underwear.
  6. Ask your friends what the name would mean to them. Now, i’m not advocating asking every one of your friends – that’s a recipe for disaster. But a quick survey will tell you if there’s an oversight on your part.

I hope this guide on choosing your new business name has helped you come up with a great name that’ll last for years and serve you well in business.