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How to name your business

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It goes without saying that selecting a name for your business is one of the most crucial decisions you face. It’s the very first thing that almost all of your customers encounter, and it’s something you can’t chop and change all the time. Your business name means everything when it comes to marketing your business … it could make or break your business, so do not take this part of planning lightly.

Of course it is vital that you “like” your name, feel comfortable with it and are proud of it. But, you have to pick a name that says something about you and your business that people in your target market will remember easily. It can be something as simple as using your name or surname followed by what it is that you do, such as Bagley’s Screenprinting or Ed’s Plumbing, Bagley’s Accounting Services, Bagley’s Marketing Consultancy.

If your business operates in your town only, you could use something like Toptown Motors, or if you market in a larger area, Whale Route Hardware. Both these options have the advantage of sounding like the first choice in a specific area.

As with a logo or slogan, it helps to identify the qualities or aura of your product, service or business.
  • Write down a description of your target audience.
  • What problems does your business help them solve?
  • Make a list of words and phrases that appeal to them.
  • List three to five benefits that you offer to your customers.
  • List the names of 4 of your competitors.
  • Make a list of characteristics that differentiate you from the competition.
  • Identify the words most apt to reflect those characteristics.
  • Using those words, try them in various combinations.
  • It is wise to remember that being cute can often backfire …

Once you have selected what you think might be suitable – and ones you feel comfortable with and proud of – you should think again of your target market and consider (some of) the following:
  • Keep it simple and easily pronounceable, make it easy to write, spell and remember (in more than one language, if possible).
  • Is it spelled as it sounds? Although my own company name is easily remembered and catchy in its own way, I find that some folk are not sure whether it is Talk 2 or Talk Two. (practice what you preach …)
  • Is it short? Experts recommend that a business name have eleven or less letters and four syllables maximum. If possible take two or three words that describe your business then shorten them to make it one word.
  • Be original to avoid confusion with other products and companies.
  • Like the logo, visual comprehension must by easy.
  • You must be able to live with it.
  • Is it unique and sensory? These two traits make words memorable.
  • Does it spark interest? Is there a story behind it?
  • Does it represent who you are? Is it authentic?
  • Does it express or imply a desirable message?
  • Can your employees say it proudly?

Finally, check to make sure the name is not already in use somewhere.
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