One of the most frustrating yet essential steps of creating a company is naming your new business. For some, naming your new business will come naturally — but this is very rarely the case. Most businesses deliberate intensely, knowing full well that the naming decision is a very important one that will be very difficult to reverse. Essentially, once you choose your business’ name, it’s likely to stick — for better or worse.
As a result, it’s important to get your business’ name right the first time, so you don’t have to undergo a costly re-branding process just because a name is ineffective. To come up with the best name for your business, it’s worth keeping the five tips below in mind:
Value Appearance and Presentation
Much like a business’ logo, your name should be appealing to the eye. Especially if you have a web site design or logo in place, see how a particular name looks beside it. Does it appear too lengthy within the logo? Is it overly difficult to incorporate? Your name should be appealing to the eye, much like how “Wendy’s” appears more homely and welcoming than a name like “Burger Shack”, which can concoct visions of a beat-up shack with unsanitary conditions, as opposed to a friendly cook’s home kitchen.
Perhaps more important – because logos can be changed – is that your business’ name should also be phonetically pleasing. Avoid using big words that require a thesaurus to look up. Your business’ name will be easier to remember if it uses words that everyone knows. If it’s a new word or a hybrid word, make sure it’s trendy-looking and easy to say. It’s fine for some businesses to incorporate last names, but while generic names like “Smith Plumbing” or “Smith’s Restaurant” may play it safe, they’re not inspiring or memorable at all.
Keep the Future in Mind
When choosing a business name, never limit future potential. For example, a printing shop may eventually expand to a full-on graphic design studio. Or, a music shop specializing in used instruments may expand to a huge store that also offers music lessons. As a result, it’s recommended to not be too specific with your business’ name. Still keep your business’ industry in mind when choosing the name, but don’t be so specific that it makes name rebranding essential if you ever choose to expand.
Don’t Name After a Location
Even if you love your city or state, it’s generic and not progressive-thinking to name your business after it, such as a business in Austin, Texas naming their brand “Austin Computer Repair.” Not only will this be difficult to remember, but it will make it difficult to retain brand value if a business ever expands beyond city or state lines. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC and Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining changed its name to 3M, largely because they wanted to weed out any sentiment of regional exclusivity now that they are open to customers throughout the country.
Gauge Others’ Reactions
Talk to friends and family and gather their opinions on the potential name your new business, all while trying to encourage objectivity. If necessary, masquerade the business as a competitor’s name, so they don’t provide a dishonest answer just to avoid hurting feelings. If they truly like the name, they’ll let you know, even if it’s a competitor. In general, it’s recommended to keep this step to friends and family. If you post a name on the internet to gauge opinions, another person may register its trademark if it’s that great, which leads us to…
Check for Trademarks
If your business’ potential name meets all or most of the standards above and it’s received well by friends and family, it’s now time to check for any trademarks or copyright to the name via the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool. If the name or any variations is not trademarked, you can proceed with the name for your business. Once you register the name within your local county, proceed with other tasks – like registering a web domain with the name in mind and designing logos and marketing campaigns around the name – that will make your business’ target audience familiar with its new name.
The result to naming your new business is only a few words at most, but its magnitude in the long-term is indisputable. As is the case with businesses with long-standing businesses like Jim Beam and DuPont, Est., the name may very well may represent your business and brand for the next several centuries.