Forest Software

Web, SEO and IT & Business Advice for the Smaller Business

Choosing a name for your business is one of the most important things to consider when starting up. It’s probably one of the first decisions that you will have to make but you shouldn’t be rushed into a decision, it’s always best to do your research and plan thoroughly before choosing one.

Make it a name that means something

You might expect that a company with a strong product, service, or niche idea would make a healthy profit. However, as many small business owners will tell you, it takes more than a good business idea to get across to customers that they should use your business instead of your competitors and the correct business name might make all the difference.

Your business name is therefore essential because it’s:

  • The point of contact. The first thing that any potential buyer is going to notice is your business name, whether you operate a brick-n-motor shop, a website based business or a combination of both.  Some people will tell you that it’s more important than your sales pitch or even your end product.
  • The first point of entry. The name is the entry point to your business for many people and may be the only thing that separates you and your competitors at the start.  Often customers will make instant judgements on where they want to part with their cash.

Therefore, it’s important that you strike the right tone with your business’ name as is something that you can use as a brand. If you look around you will see that successful companies do not just have good names, they develop a strong brand identity. And, in time, brands can literally sell themselves – think of Dyson, Porsche or even Amazon (that interestingly was originally called Cadabra) for example.

 

Choosing a name: What to do and what to avoid

Avoid the personal touch

While it’s tempting to incorporate your own name into your business names like Pete’s Bookkeeping Services or Fred’s Gardening Services  hardly screams originality. As a result, try to avoid personalising your business as it’s unlikely that the name will sway any customers without an established brand attached to it, although there is the argument that some small “one-man” businesses can be helped by having that personal feel to it. If you’re hoping to grow your business, or sell it as a going concern in the future though, it’s important that it can stand on its own two feet and be independent of you.

Bring a bit of local flavour

A safe and trustworthy method is to link your business’ name to the area in which you operate – customers associate such firms with strong local roots and a friendly approach to the public. Therefore, Conwy Valley Private Hire or North Wales Inks are likely to be though of as  a well-established, local businesses, but remember that this may restrict future growth to other areas.

Inject a bit of humour

Humour or a nice play on words is an effective way to stand out from the crowd. While a coffee shop called Impresso Espresso,  a hairdressers named Scissors  or a bakery called Sugar and Spice would elicit predictable groans from passers-by, puns can be used for good effect, as long as they are not overly groanworthy or detract from the image you are trying to convey for your firm.  You could even base the humour around the type of business, for example there is a local craft shop here in North Wales called The Crafty Kitten.

Be careful though, there are lots of examples of wordplay where it’s gone wrong, so ask friends if they can see anything wrong with the pun before settling on it.

Avoid “creative” spellings

The problem with having a name like Pyckup, Xero, Cloudz, Flickr or Staplar is that you will forever have to spell it when you say it, because it isn’t spelled how people hear it. (Think about how often you have to spell your own first and last name. Why would you want to have to do this with your brand name, too?)

Reflect the business

A local business that produces hand made bath and skin care products from natural products call themselves Skin Kiss, the idea being that their products are as gentle as a kiss on the skin, while the names of two businesses mentioned in the local flavour section immediately tell you what they do.

Keep it snappy and simple

There are two ways you can go with snappy names :

  • Make them instantly informative as to what your business does; or
  • Make them easily pronounceable but “generic” – for example would you have called an online market place “Amazon” or a firm making IT equipment “Apple” or “Dell”, or less well known, a business directory “Hasus” ?  Of course, the drawback with generic names is that you have to put more work into marketing them, but on the plus side they are easy to pronounce and hopefully memorable.

Remember that you may have to say the name many times a day to different people so keeping it simple reduces the risk of someone mishearing it or mispronouncing it.

Domain Names

Remember when you are deciding on your business name that you may want to have a website – this will need a domain name so the wording is something to be considered.  There have been several examples of businesses who have had “interesting” domain names.  Experts Exchange, an old webmasters forum on the net, for example decided on a domain of expertsexchange.com, every time I saw it I read it as expert sex change (of course that may say more about me than their business).  If your name can be misinterpreted when written down as a single stream of letters there is the option of  using a hyphen between the words of course which may make it more readable (experts-exchange is immediately readable).

Legal Considerations

If you are based in the UK it’s worth having a look at https://www.gov.uk/limited-company-formation/choose-company-name which gives some of the rules surrounding business names in here in the UK.  For example a limited company name can’t be like another limited company name and there are rules as to some words that you can’t use.  If you are not a limited company you can’t use Ltd, Limited, PLC in the name (https://www.gov.uk/set-up-sole-trader)

 

About this blog

Over the years we have published many articles based around the questions that we get asked from small businesses relating to marketing, SEO, general business advice and other subjects.  You can find a list of related articles grouped by subject below or can even search for a word or phrase or browse our recent articles.

We hope that you find our articles useful.

Other sites of interest

The Crafty Kitten, a local craft and gift shop.

Welsh Dragons made from polymer clay.

UK Business Services directory.

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