SO, you’ve come up with a brilliant business idea. It’s unique. It’s original. There’s nothing like it in the market. You’re ready to establish your company, but there’s just one problem—you need a name.
Your business partner picked his favorite. Of course, your spouse, your mother and your friends all have their opinions. However, choosing a business name requires some strategic foresight. After all, it’s the most visible, marketable aspect of your company.
These are the top seven questions to consider when choosing the perfect name for your next business venture, from freelance writer Lisa Girard’s article in Entrepreneur.
1. What do I want a name to accomplish for my company? The most obvious reason for choosing the right name is that it separates you from your competitors and reinforces your niche in the marketplace. Girard uses the example from Steve Manning, founder of Sausalito, California-based Igor, a naming agency that pointed out that Apple chose its name to differentiate itself from corporate sounding names like IBM and NEC.
2. Will the name be too limiting? You don’t want your name to be limiting if you want to expand your business into additional services in the future. Otherwise, you could be facing a renaming issue down the road. Girard uses the example of a company called Angelsoft.com, which connected angel investors. Later, the company expanded into other types of investors and had to take on an expensive rebranding to become Gust.com.
3. Does the name make sense for my business? Of course, we’ve all seen company names that don’t mean anything to us until we learn about the business. For most companies, it’s best to adopt a name that provides some information about the products and services. It doesn’t have to be “cutesy” but it should be meaningful.
4. Is the name easy to remember? According to Girard’s article, the shorter the name, the better, such as one to two syllables. Acronyms can also be risky. Focus on simple, straightforward names. It needs to be easy to pronounce with a spelling that everyone will get. Simple is best when resonating with a new market.
5. How will potential customers first encounter your name? As Girard points out, some naming experts believe there are exceptions to the easy-to-spell rule, especially if most people will see your name for the first time in a print or online ad. For example, consider Zulily, the online company offering daily deals for moms, babies and kids. “If you just heard that name, you might not guess how to spell it, but the company’s aggressive online ad campaign has meant that most people first see it spelled out,” says Chris Johnson, a naming consultant in Seattle and author of The Name Inspector blog, who came up with the name Zulily. “The payoff is that the unusual sound and spelling of the name have helped them create a very distinctive brand.
6. Does your name have marketing power? A name should be reflected in creative ways for your business. Girard gives the example of a PR specialist who named her agency Firetalker PR. The owner took the title of Fire Chief. She called her office The Firehouse, and began offering PR packages such as Inferno, Controlled Burn and The Matchbox. She used a play on words to deliver creative marketing power for her business.
7. Have I conducted a proper trademark search? The most important step in choosing the name is making sure there’s not already another business with the same name. You can use resources like Trademarkia.com or USPTO.gov to do a cursory search to see if the name is already in use. Once you choose a name, be sure to go through the proper steps to register your business name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This will protect you from other businesses trying to use your name.
Source: Lisa Girard is a freelance writer who covers topics as diverse as golf, fashion, health and beauty, the hardware industry and small business interests. She also has been senior apparel editor for PGA Magazine for more than a decade.