How to choose a business name

By Lizzie Davey


How many times a day do you say the word Google without even thinking about it?


As well as being the name of the world’s biggest search engine, the phrase has become a verb in the English language.


This
is how powerful the right business name can be.


Choosing a business name might seem like a distraction from getting started on the real work, but it can have a major impact on your success.


Why?


If you choose the wrong name, you run the risk of not connecting with your customers and, in the worst case scenario, coming head to head with devastating legal issues.


On the flipside, the right name can have a powerful impact on your marketing and branding, which can make it a whole lot easier to build awareness for your business and generate leads and sales.


There are plenty of scientific studies that show the importance of a business name. Every word comes with personal connotations which can affect the way people see your business before they even know who you are and what you’re selling.


So how do you make sure you’re choosing the right name?


It seems like such a lofty decision that many new business owners become paralysed in the process.

Before you choose your business name, ask yourself:


  • What message do you want to send out with your business name?
  • What are your biggest priorities for your business name? Do you want it to be easy to pronounce, different and unique, directly related to your products and services, etc.?
  • What do you want people to think and feel when they see your business name?
  • What are your biggest competitors called? What do you like and dislike about those business names?
  • Does the length of the name matter? If so, do you want a short name or a longer name?


Top tips for choosing the right business name



1. Brainstorm ideas

It’s tempting to go with the first good name you come up with, but what if something better comes up later down the line?


It’s a nightmare changing your business name once you’re set up, so really take the time to brainstorm all possibilities and, most importantly, don’t rush into a decision.


2. Consider spelling 

We’ve all met someone who has to literally spell out the name of their company every time someone asks.


Do you want to be that person?
While it might seem clever to use a play on words or something pun-tastic, think about how that will affect your business in the long term.


Misspellings can lead to lost sales, so make sure you choose a name that’s simple to spell.


3. Don’t limit yourself 

Your business name should have the future in mind.


If you’re opening up a clock shop, you might be compelled to call it The Clock Shop, but what if you want to sell more than clocks in the future? You might find yourself stymied by your choice of name.


4. Research and research some more 

The last thing you want is to have your business name connected with some dodgy company that’s made headlines for all the wrong reasons.


This is why it’s so important to research your chosen name before you commit to using it. By doing this, you’ll quickly be able to see if it’s already being used or if it’s associated with something distasteful.


5. Make it meaningful

Sure, brand names like Yahoo and Google don’t make much sense or give away what they’re all about, but these are two of the biggest companies in the world.


Unless you’re dead set on becoming a household name, choose something that’s easy to understand and meaningful in your industry. This makes it far easier to market yourself and to create quick connections with prospects. 

Fun fact: Yahoo started life as Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web to acknowledge its founders. They soon realised the name was a mouthful and changed it to something simpler and much, much shorter.


6. Say it out loud

Some names look great written down and then when it comes to saying them out loud it all goes downhill. Practice saying your chosen business name out loud to see how it sounds. 


7. Test and get feedback

The people your name is going to matter to the most is your audience, which is why it’s a good idea to actively ask those people for feedback. Ask them what comes to mind when they see or hear your business name and what connotations come with it.


Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos was dead set on calling his fledgling business Relentless, but several of his friends remarked that it had sinister connotations so he quickly changed it.


Would Amazon be the multi-million dollar business it is today if it still had its original name?


8. Keep it simple

It can be tempting to be clever with your business name, but is that really helping anyone?


The best names are simple but descriptive, so that new customers can instantly get an idea about what you’re offering.


9. Use a name generator

Struggling to come up with any ideas? Kick start the inspiration with a name generator tool. 

Sites like Wordoid.com, NameMesh.com, and the Shopify Business Name Generator are all great starting points. You don’t have to use their suggestions, but they might work as a jumping board for your own ideas.


10. Check availability

If you’re setting up a Limited company, you’ll need to register your business name with Companies House. Before you do this, you can quickly run a name search to see if your chosen business name is available on the Companies House website.


However, if it’s already taken, you can choose a trading name that’s different to your Limited company name.


11. Run a trademark search

Head over to the Intellectual Office website and run a trademark search. This checks companies across the UK to make sure you’re not using the same registered name as another company in the same industry.


For global trademarks, run a search on WIPO’s website. When you’ve decided on your name, consider applying for a trademark to protect your business in the sectors and countries you intend to operate in.

Fun fact:
World Wrestling Entertainment was forced to change its name from the World Wrestling Federation in 2000 when the World Wildlife Fund sued them for using their trademarked name.


12. Check the domain name

When you’ve run all your checks and have settled on a name, it’s time to see if the domain name is available for it.

Ideally, you want a .com or a .co.uk ending if you’re operating in the UK. Use a domain registrar site like GoDaddy to check that your domain name is available and, if it is, go ahead and register it.


Your name can make or break your business


In an age where industries are more saturated than ever, it’s becoming more and more difficult to stand out. By choosing the right business name, you’re giving your company the best chance it has to rise above the rest and become a well-known brand amongst your audience.


You can’t go wrong if you keep things simple, do your research, and consider your plans for the future.