What’s in a name? Shakespeare famously claimed that, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That might be true, but a good name can make a big difference when it comes to the success of your small business

As a business owner, you’ll have to look at your business name every day. It will be on your website, social media channels, printed on your merchandise, and on your products, so make sure it’s one you’re proud of. If you rush into choosing a name for your business, you’ll probably have to rebrand down the track and this can be expensive. We’ve put this article together to help you workshop a business name you’re really happy with. 

What Makes a Good Business Name? 

There is no definitive way to measure whether a business name is good or bad. But, there are some key characteristics that are usually shared by good business names. 

The first is originality. No matter what industry you are in, chances are there will be businesses out there that are providing a similar product or service. Make sure you stand out from your competition with a name your customers will remember. A good business name should also highlight the business’s mission. It should be meaningful and memorable and look appealing as a logo. Do some domain name research before choosing a name to make sure you will be able to own a website that matches your brand.

Coming Up With a Business Name

Choosing a name for your business is one of the first steps in building a business plan. In the following section, we’ll share some tips that will help you come up with the perfect name for your small business. Some of the points we’ll be covering include; profiling your target consumer, brainstorming and wordplay, researching your name options to avoid choosing something that’s already taken, finding a domain name, testing your name, and turning a name into a logo. Let’s dive in! 

Profile Your Target Consumer 

In every step of building your business, you always want to have your target consumer in mind. This includes when you are choosing a name for your business. Do some research to identify your target consumer and profile them. Brainstorm some words you would use to describe them and their activities. For example, if you’re starting a business that sells supplies to the at-home chef, you might choose to include personality descriptors like “foodie” or words to describe their actions like ‘stirring’ or ‘baking.’ These words can be used to inspire a name for your business. 

Brainstorm Wordplays 

Once you have a list of words that describe your target consumer, use these words to test out combinations with other relevant terms. This method will help you keep your name focused on the industry you’re trying to serve. Hopefully by testing out some combinations you’ll land on something catchy and unique. Here’s an example; If you are starting a single batch coffee roasting company and you’ve brainstormed words like “customized,” “coffee beans,” and “brew,” then some combinations might include “custom perk” or “small brew.” These names give the customer hints about what you do right off the bat. 

Don’t Box Yourself In

While you do want a name that’s unique, you also don’t want to box yourself in by choosing something that’s too specific. Having a name that’s too specific to your product can limit the ability of your business to grow. For example, if you are starting a wedding dress company, you don’t necessarily want to have the word ‘dress’ in your name. If your business is successful you might later want to expand into other products within the industry. Maybe you’ll want to also sell clothing for grooms, or start styling receptions. The word ‘dress’ in your name limits your ability to easily expand your business, as the customers won’t be aware that you also provide other products or services beyond just dresses. Rebranding your business takes time, energy, and money. It can be confusing for the customer and negatively impact your business if it already has positive name recognition. 

Research Your Potential Names

Once you’ve got a shortlist of names for your business, it’s time to do some research to make sure those names aren’t already in use. It’s not impossible for two businesses of the same name to operate successfully. However, it does pose some potential issues that you should be aware of. 

Reputation Concerns 

If another company has the same name as you, you can’t control how that business operates. If this other business is getting bad reviews or ends up in some kind of hot water, there could be some confusion that ends up negatively affecting your business. 

Business credit report errors

The major credit bureaus pull information from directories where your business name, address, and phone number are listed. If there is a business with the same or similar name, their credit activities may show up on your credit report by accident. 

Trademark and Secretary of State search 

Before you get too attached to a name, make sure you can actually use it for your business. You find this out by doing a trademark search and a secretary of state search. You can use resources like the TESS database to help you conduct this research. 

Secure the Domain Name

Securing a domain name is one of the most important steps in building your business. Ideally, you want to have a business name that you can also secure a clean domain name for. You want to avoid having to use .net or any other alternative to .com. This makes it easy for your customers to find you online. If you have your heart set on a name but it has already been claimed, it might be worth trying to reach out to the owner. They might be willing to sell the name. You can research domain names using resources like Godaddy or NameCheap

Just as important as securing a website domain name is making sure you can secure social handles for your business. Take a look at the platforms you’ll be wanting to use, ie. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, to see if there are any handles with the same or similar names. If there is a name that’s similar to yours, take a look at the content they are publishing. You don’t want a similarly-named account publishing content that could negatively impact your reputation. Check out Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS) to see if any results for your potential brand name comes up with results for your potential name. Again, this doesn’t mean you can’t use this name, you’ll just want to do some research to make sure your brand is not in danger of being associated with something that could impact your reputation. 

Test the Name

Loyal customers will be interacting with your name, again, and again. They’ll also hopefully be spreading the word about your business to their wider network of friends and family. That’s why testing out your chosen business name before you commit to it is important. You can test your business name on your close circle, or even better, try it out on a random sample of people outside your close circle. Ask these people to give you some honest feedback about whether the name is catchy, memorable, sounds good when said aloud, and is enticing enough to make people want to learn more about your business. 

Picture it as a Logo 

After you’ve finally settled on a name, you’ll want to create a logo for marketing and branding purposes. Picture your business name as a logo. This visual element makes your business more memorable. With the right designer at the helm, almost any name can be turned into a visually appealing logo. That being said, if your name is difficult to turn into a logo, this could make branding and marketing a bit more of a challenge so it’s certainly something worth thinking about before you permanently lock in a name. 

Hopefully, by following these tips you’ll be able to come up with a catchy and original name that perfectly reflects what your business is all about. It’s important that the name resonates with your customers but it’s equally as important that it resonates with you personally. It’s your business after all. Good luck!