The Name Game: What You Call Your Business Can Make or Break It

This article was written by Marsha Kelly.

Picking the right name when you start a business is a crucial step in your entrepreneurial journey. Your business name doesn’t just affect one part of your business, it affects all of it. From every email to brochure, to sales page, to the product itself, the name says it all. Therefore, choosing the best name for your company can help you soar to new heights of success or trigger your downfall to business failure.

So don’t take the unnecessary risk of taking a shortcut and rushing this process. It can cost you much more time, money, and social capital in the form of reputation damage well into the future. This could cause you to completely change your name later on down the road. Even worse, you might just have to shut down shop and start anew. Instead, carefully consider the following suggestions, tips, and tricks so you can come up with the best name for your business while avoiding common mistakes that entrepreneurs make.

The Big 6

There are 6 key factors to consider when choosing your business name to ensure you have a marketable and memorable brand:

1. Emotional

A business has to evoke the right emotional feeling from the start in order to be effective. And the good news is, this inspiration can come from a variety of sources. For example, the legendary Steve Jobs decided on “Apple” due to his fruit-based diets he was fond of. But the main reason is that it was a name that wasn’t intimidating, it was fun and playful.

The Best names bring out positive emotions, not negative ones. And of course, the name has to be representative of the kind of product or service you’re offering. If the emotion is positive but not aligned, it could confuse or irritate your market. For example, a name like “Silly String” is perfect for a kid’s toy that does what the name suggests. However, just because the emotions implied are positive and fun, doesn’t mean it’s a good name for any business. If you run a cyber-security firm, a silly name like that could damage your brand irreparably.

So in order to evoke the right emotion, ask yourself what your business wants to achieve or make people feel: Efficiency? Affordability? Fun? Trusthworthy? Safety? Speed? Creativity? Then explore what your true market segment is: Upper class? Lower Class? Middle Class? Men only? Women only? This will guide you in getting the emotions spot on with your name.

2. Longevity

When determining the proper name for any enterprise, the greats always look to the future. They ask themselves if the name will tolerate future expansion into a broader segment. For example, Google and Amazon are names that can adapt to whatever service or product they offer. In contrast, a name like “ABC Fax Technologies” would have to be changed or you would have to get a new LLC formation as newer technologies were introduced to the market. The same goes for names that indicate a niche that is narrow like “ACME Website Builders.” If that company wanted to expand into other digital services such as social media, direct response marketing, or more, then they would have to completely rebrand or spend time and money educating customers about their additional services.

3. Avoid being Offensive

While some business owners might think being edgy or funny is going to win them brownie points with their market, it’s simply not a risk worth taking. Your name shouldn’t have the possibility of offending people who would otherwise buy your product: that’s turning away free money! But also be aware that names that seem innocent in one market can cause offense in another. In fact, entire countries like UAE ban certain kinds of profanity, references to God, and other words in business names. So do your research about rules and sensitivities on any locations where you plan to do business.

4. Domain, Social Handles Available

The last thing you want to do is choose a great name only to find out it isn’t available as a domain name or social media handle. The farther away your website name and social handles are away from your business name, the greater chance people will make a mistake or give up when looking for you. Don’t take that risk: check out your name’s availability before drafting up the LLC Formation with your Legalzoom discount.

5. Memorable

Your name should be relevant and non-offensive, but that doesn’t mean it should be boring. You want to bring about a certain image in the prospect’s mind when they hear or see your business. Take time brainstorming ideas that will stick in your customer’s mind long after they first become aware of you.

6. Test It

Like anything in business, sales, or marketing, testing will be your friend. The reality is you can assume that your target audience will take to your name, but they might not resonate with it at all. Instead of putting everything on the line and investing heavily in a name for a corporation too quickly, conduct a number of tests on variations of your name to see which gets more responses.

Dos and Don’ts

Do:

  • Choose a name for your LLC and DBA right away. It can be something generic, allowing you to get started while you dream up your brand name.
  • Consult partners and colleagues for additional ideas.
  • Save money where you can with things like a Legalzoom discount.

Don’t:

  • Use your own name for a corporation. If you ever get bought out, you might be prevented from using your own name on future products
  • Rush into anything before you’ve applied the principles you’ve learned here

How to Select a Domain Name

You can use the following websites to help with securing the right domain name:

Examples of Names

Good:

  • Spex in the City (Opticians)
  • Whole Foods
  • PlayStation

Bad:

  • OK Service<
  • Turd Pizza
  • NOVA (A Chevy car model that tanked in Spanish speaking countries because it translates to “Doesn’t Go”)

Funny:

  • Wok This Way!
  • Pulp Friction (Recycling)

 

Your business name alone will not lift you to success after you start a business. But a great name that speaks to your customers in an engaging and relevant way is crucial to allow the other parts to fall into place. Don’t make the mistake of choosing a name that confuses customers or causes them to laugh at you. Instead, pick one that encapsulates the pinnacle of your company and communicates to your market in a clear, engaging way. That way, you will enjoy a distinct advantage over your competition and gain their loyalty for years to come.


Marsha Kelly sold her first business for more than a million dollars. She has shared hard-won experiences as a successful serial entrepreneur on her blog Best 4 Businesses. Marsha also regularly shares business tips, ideas, and suggestions as well as product reviews for business readers. As a serial entrepreneur who has done “time” in corporate America, Marsha has learned what products and services really work well in business today. You can learn from her experiences from shopping the internet for tools, supplies, and information to build your businesses and improve lives financially.