For small businesses, the answer to what’s in a name is everything.
Experts say naming your business should require consideration comparable to naming your baby.
“Your name really requires almost as much attention as your business model,” says John Gerzema, author of Spend Shift, out in October. “Many entrepreneurs and start-up founders will spend a lot of time planning the business model and the name becomes a bit of an afterthought.”
The name of your business can give people a perception of the quality of services or products you are offering.
“It’s the first and most lasting impression that a person will ever have of your business; your name really is a representation of what your company finds important,” says marketing and branding expert, Patrick Goodness of the Goodness Company. “If you haven’t taken the time or the energy to create a name or brand that helps people better understand the experience that they’re going to have with your business, they’re not going to give it much thought.”
Here’s how to choose a name that best suits your business.
Take the World Wide Web Into Consideration
A name that is easily accessible online is crucial to your company’s success, according to the experts.
“Choosing a name that you can find easily on Google is the most important factor,” says Lauren Teton, principal at Name One! New York. “People are going to look on the Internet to find your business.”
Do some research to see what domain names are available to avoid trademark infringement, warn the experts. Pick a name that is easy to spell so people will find you easier.
It is also important to pick a unique name that distinguishes you from similar Web addresses.
“The last thing you want to do is create a domain name that directly leads to a competitor’s web site,” says Goodness.
Keep Creativity in Check
While it can be fun to come up with super creative names, be careful not to get carried away and make it hard on customers.
“If it has mechanical flaws in it where people can’t spell it or pronounce it, that would be going too far,” says Teton.
Incorporate Brand Recognition
It’s important your business’ name reflects its values and products.
“It makes more sense to name your business in relation to the service it provides and to try to be clever and creative without losing sight,” says Goodness. “Our goal of naming is to create a positive first impression that is indicative of a service that you’re going to offer.”
A name that consumers identify with can create a buzz about your business. You may want to explore the possibilities that advertising and marketing have to offer in augmenting brand recognition.
Test it Out
It’s easy for small business owners to get wrapped up in the naming process and lose track on how the outside world will perceive the name.
“Get people whose opinion you trust, some key personnel that are representative of your target demographic,” says Goodness. “Ask them some specific questions about the experience that they want to have, about the type and quality that they are looking for.”
Teton recommends forgoing the market research route and suggests asking your friends and family members for their opinions.
“There might be negative connotations to a name that you haven’t thought of,” says Teton. “You want to make sure there aren’t 'street definitions' [of your name].”
Customers Come First
Goodness encourages business owners to be willing to put their own preferences to the side; you might have a name that you don’t personally love but if it is well-received by your target audience, it may be better for your business in the long run.
“If you have a poor company name or brand, over the lifetime of the business, you will spend nearly three times as much to successfully market the company as a competitor will with a good name and brand,” he explains. “For a business owner, it becomes a real priority to ensure that their business name and logo and brand are on par for successful growth of their business.”