What’s in a name? It’s a good question and one that many entrepreneurs ponder over for hours, days, even weeks as they begin their journey to starting a new business.
In our days of consumer savvy and marketing and social media power brand is hugely important and your business name plays a big part in that.
Whether you’re choosing a name that says exactly what you do – think The Formations Company, Coca Cola and Urban Outfitters, a name that says nothing about what you do – think Virgin, Nike, Apple, or even if you’re using your own name – think Sainsbury’s, John Lewis and Mercedes Benz, your name needs to be impressive, memorable and characteristic.
As entrepreneurs start the process of creating a new business, many ask us for advice on choosing a business name. The key, for us, is to take it slow.
Creating A New Business Name
So what do you need to consider while choosing your business name
First you need to decide how much you want your business name to tell your customers about what you do. Even Apple, whose brand is now so widely renowned no descriptor is required, started out as Apple Computer, Inc.
You’ll also need to consider your future business plans before you select a name, ensuring it’s not too restrictive. And if it could be restrictive later down the line, consider how you’d change it to make it less so. For instance, Apple was renamed in 2007 after 30 years to drop the words ‘Computer. Inc’, as the company had moved into the wider field of consumer electronics. You can do this easily even once you’ve registered your name with Companies House.
While making your business name descriptive could work, if your name is memorable enough, and you can back that up with a service to match, you can be a little more risqué.
Colin, an entrepreneur and creative director in East Anglia, says “Don’t feel you need to be restricted by the dictionary. Some of the top brands around have used completely new words – Google was made up as a play on the word ‘googol’ – defined as the number 1 followed by 100 zeros. Yet now that made up word is so well known and widely recognised that it has a dictionary definition!”
Even if you feel you’d prefer your name to be descriptive, you can still achieve this with ‘new’ words. For instance, Vodafone is created from the words Voice, Data and Phone.
Using a brand new word can be a good way of ensuring your business name is unique, but remember to keep it simple yet memorable at the same time.
Building On Reputation
If you already have a reputation in your field, for instance if you’ve been working for someone else, and you are well known for the work that you do, you may want to capitalise on the good will you’ve already built for your own name.
This, once more, should make your business memorable and searchable. Here, once again, you need to take care to try to be different.
And in this instance, you’ll be entering the arena well ahead of the game as brand awareness and brand equity have already gained momentum.
Ensuring your business name is unique isn’t just important because of copyright issues.
You also need to do a good check online to ensure you can get the domain name you’d like, and to ensure you’re not competing in search with other businesses of the same name.
Colin elaborates: “When you’re buying your domain name, you may feel you’d prefer to focus on .com or .co.uk but it’s a good idea to reserve other iterations too. This means that if you refocus your business, or if you grow, you have your angles covered and can quickly get your additional domain names up and running.
“You’ll also be able to check that someone else hasn’t got a version of your URL, using it for less respectable online activity!”
Naming Your Business – Advice From The Formations Company
Perhaps the greatest advice you can take away when looking to name your company is not to be too hurried. Building on our business name advice you should also:
- Make your business name stick – creating a name that’s memorable can help to create a successful business.
- Be excited and exciting – your name needs to convey how you feel about your business, your products or services, and your customers.
- Stay short and fresh – shorter business names with only one or two syllables tend to be more memorable than long names and once remembered, a stylish name is more likely to be shared too.
- Get feedback – once you have a shortlist of names, do some testing a see whether others like it and what they take away from your name. Listen to the feedback and you may be surprised to come away with a completely new name.
- Future proof – refer to your business plan to ensure you’re not restricting your future business plans by the name you’re choosing.
What Next For Your New Business Name?
Once you’ve narrowed your business name down to one or two choices, you may want to look into how it will look once it’s a part of a bigger brand picture. Your design team will create a logo, a palate of colours, the typeface to use, as well as copy and imagery style, all helping you to convey and protect the brand you’re creating.
Testing these again with family and friends will help you to make your ultimate choice.
Finally, once you’ve settled on a name, even if you’re not quite ready to strike out in business, it’s a good idea to protect it by registering your business with Companies House. With The Formations Company this can be done in as little as three hours, and you don’t necessarily need to start trading straight away.