Naming Your Business

Question: I have an idea for a new business. What tips do you have in naming it?

Answer: The right name for your enterprise will distinguish you from your competitors, make it easier for buyers to find you and give customers a reason to continue to buy from you since they can easily remember who you are and what you do. It is also easier to brand your name because if selected right you can position yourself in the mind of buyers, so they see no suitable substitute. There are some critical elements in creating a name for your business:

First, look at your mission statement: Who are you? What do you do? Why are you in business? What do you offer your customers that differentiates you from your competitors?

What do you want your business name to communicate? The name you choose for your business will convey its identity. It should reflect something about your business so that buyers will be able to form a mental hook that connects their needs with your brand identity and the solutions you provide. Since your business name will appear on all of your collateral materials, such as your website, letterhead, business cards and promotional materials it has to communicate independently who you are, what you do and what you offer without pages of explanation.

Examples: Cape Cod Celebrations = events. Cleangreen = residential and commercial cleaning services. Alison Caron Design = marketing design. Safe Harbor Eldercare in Falmouth= senior services. Caution, there is some danger in using ME, Inc., in the name. Can it be pronounced? Will it hinder your exit strategy? A lot to think about in selecting the name of your fledgling enterprise.

Think about promoting your business. – When customers have a need, and they look for a provider, choose a name that instantly links their need with your solution. The name has to have “stickiness.” It has to have memorability, therefore cannot be so obscure that buyers cannot relate to it. The name shouldn’t be too cutesy or confusing. The root of the naming process is the customer, not what you are selling. Good Friends Café in West Dennis is a good example of focusing on the customer, not the food, as is The Corner Store in Chatham. The name you choose needs to be inviting and approachable that invites investigation. One last word about promoting. Make your name web friendly. Your web address should be the same as your company name.

20/20 Window Cleaning in Hyannis uses –

Brainstorm ideas. – Once you have established the guidelines for your name, you might organize a creative brainstorming session that allows free thinking with colleagues, partners, and professionals who focus on marketing communications. Then, use some web tools to test the results of your session: Dot-O-Mater Web 2.0 Name Generator, Name Thingy, Rhymer, and Wordlab Business Name Generator.

Check to see if the name is already trademarked. – The next step after you have selected a name is to check its availability. Search the federal database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Run a Google search, as well as searching alternative search engines. Then, check to see if there is a domain name via GoDaddy. If a website is in your future, which it needs to be, searched to see if your name/domain name is available.

Use a DBA if a sole proprietor – If you are a sole proprietor, you might consider a DBA or “does business as” name vs. the legal name registered with the Commonwealth that includes your first or last name. Does your name attached to what you do differentiate your business adequately?

Consider acronyms – You need to consider the acronyms your name creates (the first letter of each word in your name). Buyers will use the acronym even if you don’t. Choosing a name that creates an acronym you don’t want being used hurts your promotion. Even if you don’t use it, your customers will. Think about International Business Machines (IBM). Customers use IBM almost exclusively. American Automobile Association (AAA). Same thing. And don’t rely on “AAA” to get listed first. In the days of the phone book, that worked, but today when consumers are searching for a product, they use a search engine for window washing or house painting or plumbing.

Think long term – Today your business might be landscaping, but over the longer term you might undertake landscape design or hardscaping or land management. The impression or memorability of your name that is broader than what you do today is important in naming it in the first place.

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