HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT BUSINESS NAME
What is in a name? A lot, especially if you are looking to start a business on the right footing. Choosing the right business name is one trademark for successful brand identity. Make no mistake, choosing a name is a stressful process, but rewarding in the long run when your business gains traction.
One question that Phillip Davis, the founder of Tungsten Branding, a Brevard, North Carolina-based naming firm, asks entrepreneurs is “do you want to fit in or stand out?”
Sounds like a simple one. For start-ups you may be thinking primarily about getting your foot through the door, but it’s always beneficial to think long-term and get it right from the outset. You want a name that takes into consideration your core services, values and accounts for the future.
The following guide will help you choose the right name for your business:
Employ the service of a naming company
These are companies whose primary purpose is to create a winning name for your company. Picking a name could take weeks, during which data on your company’s culture, vision, unique selling point and ideologies to draw in customers is taken. Taking this option will set you back some money, but if done right your business will reap the dividends in no distant future.
If you don’t want the sleepless nights and hassle that comes with choosing a name for yourself, then this is for you.
Visit here to see top naming companies.
Tell a good story
Everyone loves a good story. Your story should tell your why, how and what. In simple terms, I’m talking about your purpose as a company, and what your brand is about. A good business name communicates the message of the company in a few words—this is the height of brevity. Take your time to write out the important information about your company on ‘the attributes and benefits of the services it provides.’ Drill down the information as many times as you want until there’s a clear picture of the message you intend passing to your customers.
This information put together serve as the groundwork on which you can brainstorm on choosing the best name for your company.
Simple works better
And it’s not just in creative writing. A good name should embody your business goal in a way that doesn’t appear clumsy and cluttered. You don’t want potential customers stumbling over pronunciation or spellings—that could be potentially harmful to your brand. Impression matters and long, confusing names are difficult to remember. Consider these popular brands and their before-after names:
|Jerry’s Guide to the World Wide Web||Yahoo|
|Il Giornale Coffee Company||Starbucks|
|Bridge Gate Computers||Compaq|
Imagine having to read out a sentence rather than saying Yahoo or Starbucks! Compaq surfaced after an investor in BGC called in NameLabs (a professional naming company). The name was changed to Compaq because this company promised more portable, compact systems. Now when you think Compaq, the picture you get is that of a compact system; creative, right?
Put on your creative cap
It might seem easier to jump into SEO keywords and names that tell exactly what the business is about, but they also risk being too generic and boring, and possibly unavailable. In this case, abstract works. An abstract name not only gives a leeway to tell your story, it also gives your brand a unique identity.
Here are some tips to get you thinking:
- Play with words and phrases
- Check the foreign meaning of a name
- Try imagery and metaphors
- Don’t be a copy-cat
I love the Nike story. How a company went from Blue Ribbon Sport to personifying the Grecian goddess of victory. Or imagine a name like Spoon Me for an ice cream company. It’s catchy, embodies the purpose of the company, and isn’t too vague that you have to explain to everyone the relationship between your business name and its purpose.
Don’t limit yourself
Not many people are aware that KFC actually stands for Kentucky Fried Kitchen. Had its patron stuck with its original name, one might wonder if he had any plans of expanding beyond the border of Kentucky. Today, there are over 20,500 KFC outlets in more than 125 countries and territories around the world.
If you are considering starting a company called The Lagos shoe factory, you might want to reconsider your idea. Don’t limit your market; think big.
Check for availability
Chances are between the first couple of steps you already have a list of possible fits for your company. Good job. Next step is to check for availability on two fronts:
- Your country’s business directory. In Nigeria you can run your business name(s) on the CAC website to check if it’s available for use.
- You will need a website and social media page for your company. Check that these are available.
Namechk is a good tool to check for availability and that you are not infringing on any patents or copyright laws.
Test the name
Run the chosen name by friends, analytic tools, against the competition and target market participators. If you always have to explain what it is about, then hopefully you can already see your brand flushing down the drain.
Try the SMILEandSCRATCH Test
Developed by the San-francisco based naming company Eat my Words, this simple quiz helps you test your business name:
SMILE – the qualities of a powerful name
Simple – easy to spell, say, and understand
Meaningful – your customers instantly “get it”
Imagery – visually evocative – creates a picture in your mind
Legs – carries brand, rich wordplay, brand-extensions
Emotional – empowers, entertains, engages, enlightens
SCRATCH – scratch if it has any of these deal-breakers
Spelling-challenged – it’s not spelled the way it sounds
Copycat – similar to competitor’s names
Random – disconnected from the brand
Annoying – hidden meaning, forced
Tame – flat, uninspired, non-emotional, boring
Curse of Knowledge – only insiders get it
Hard-to-pronounce – not obvious, relies on punctuation
What’s in a name?
Think of your business as another boring looking door in a block of flats, and your business name as a signpost in neon lights pointing to your door. It not only carves a niche for the services you offer, it makes you stand out from the competition and invites customers to treat with you. But to do this you must understand your focus and learn to communicate that in the most effective way to the people who matter.