One of the first big challenges in starting a business whether a large or one-person business, online or brick-and-mortar — is not the writing of the business plan nor looking for funding or setting up the office or opening the bank account. It is the process of searching and choosing of the right “business” name.
Selecting the right name is crucial for a number of reasons:
- It is your customer’s first contact with your company and its products.
- It is what consumers use to talk about your product to other, potential customers.
- The right brand name makes consumers and other businesses want to use your product or associate with your company.
- The right brand name is what consumers remember when they want to use your product again.
- The right brand name begins the sale for you. It is your first sales rep, one that works for you around the clock, 7 days a week.
Choosing the right business name can be very challenging. The name embodies your brand: it is who and what you are in the eyes of your customers, suppliers, financiers and competitors.
Wall Street Journal in the article “How to Choose a Company Name: A 12-Point Test” offered the 12 point test developed by naming consultant Eat My Words. When choosing a business name, the name must possess the following five qualities:
- Simple and easy to understand concept
- Customers instantly “get it”
- Visually evocative
- Got to have legs
- Empowers, entertains, emotional
Then scratch the name if they got these deal breakers:
- You have to tell people how to spell it – the name has to be memorable, but easy to spell
- Sounds similar to a competitor (don’t be a copycat!)
- Disconnected from the brand
- Annoying with hidden meanings (name must have a positive connotation)
- Flat and boring
- Only insiders get it
- Hard to pronounce
Inc Magazine offers additional factors to consider when choosing your business name:
- Pick a name that lends itself to wordplay
- Avoid using puns
For many small businesses — especially those with limited resources that may not be able to turn their name into an instantly recognizable brand — it also makes sense to use a name that is descriptive of what they do.
While we all hope that our businesses could be the next Google or Nike, it may make better sense to use a name such as Peterson Accounting Services or Pops Pizza to immediately convey to prospects what you do.