It’s exciting to name a business, especially if it’s your first startup. You want one or a couple words to encompass all that you do, all that you are and all that you hope to be. You want the name of your business to reflect all the energy that has gone into developing your brand. You desire your target audience to be drawn to it, become curious, and engage with you.
Choosing a good business name is very important in differentiating you from your competitors, as well as in being easy-to-remember. Consumers often associate a business name with a business’s differentiating factor, such as: quality, value, service, speed, etc. A good business name can inspire people to make a purchase, but a bad name can cost you in lost sales. Some businesses have even completely failed due to their name.
Remember when General Motors named a new vehicle “Nova,” not realizing it meant “no va”, meaning “doesn’t go”, in Spanish? Big oops!
Here are a few examples of associations we make from business names as to their differentiating factors:
– SPEEDO gives the impression that their products will make you a faster swimmer.
– INSTASHOP implies a fast, easy and convenient shopping experience.
– VOLKSWAGEN, meaning “people’s car” in German, sends a whole marketing message just in its name alone.
But the process of choosing the perfect business name is by no means easy. Below are our top tips to help you on your business naming journey.
1. Avoid hard to spell names and words. Make it easy and simple for people to search for and find your business.
It’s trendy right now to spell a common word in an uncommon or special way. But be careful with this. For example, my payment gateway recently renamed and rebranded their business, spelling the new word in a unique way. I have the hardest time remembering how to spell it when I’m typing their domain name into my browser and I was also unsure what it meant due. As the owner and I are quite friendly, I asked him why they spelled it the way the way they did, and the reply was that “the normal spelling wasn’t available.” In my mind, that’s not a good enough reason. Now, I don’t think their new name and logo will cause them to fail, they’ve got a lot of other great positives going for them, but it’s definitely a bit of a hiccup.
2. Don’t choose a name that could limit future expansion. For example, “Sara’s Cakes” would be very limiting if you were to ever expand your offerings from cakes to other types of treats and food. Also avoid geographic specific words unless there is a reason for it.
3. Check if other businesses are using a potential name. Avoid using a name that another business in your area is using, even if it’s a different industry. Avoid using a name a competitor in your industry is using, even if they’re in a different location. Avoid using names from any well known businesses. The key with naming your business is to differentiate yourself.
4. Check how your words or potential business name translates into other languages. Make sure it’s nothing offensive. This is an especially important step in the UAE, which is home to many nationalities and languages, as well for any global business.
Last year a client of mine hired us to name their Middle East based woodcraft toy and decor business. They shared their list of ideas with me, with their first choice being NIK NAK (a unique spelling for “Knick-knacks”, a nickname in English for collectible home decor items). It seemed like a cute idea, but in going through our due diligence process, we found it had such a bad meaning in Arabic, that I can’t even write it here. Let’s just say, that if my parents had heard me say it as a child, my mouth would have been washed out with soap!
5. Search for an available website domain and social media handles. If possible, make them as similar as can be and make all social media handles the same. While not essential, it will help with brand memorability and recognition. The preference for most businesses would be to have a .com domain name, but there are many instances where this might not be the best decision, especially if your business is very location specific.
For example, Veda Branding only targets clients in the UAE and MENA region, so we had a very specific branding reason for going with a .ae domain. It tells our audience we are based here and we specialize in working with people here. All of our social media handles are @vedabranding.ae as well.
6. Choose a name that has meaning to it. Use your business name to aid you in telling your brand story.
We recently helped a client name their fashion business. The owner wanted to name it or include “by Q” or “Q” in the name as her last name starts with Q. After explaining why this would be much harder to brand, we put her through our in-depth naming process. We came up with “Queue” for the business name. Queue being another name for a line, a line being another name for a fashion collection, and “Queue” sounds like “Q.”
7. Conduct a trademark search, as well as search government records to make sure another business hasn’t already registered your potential business name.
8. Test out your potential name. Ask several people from different nationalities to read or say the name out loud and see if they can spell it. Ask them several days later to see if they can still remember it.
9. Get feedback, but be cautious in this. Avoid having a large group or committee decide the name, as you’ll never get everyone to agree. Also, keep in mind close family and friends are typically uneducated in branding, unaware of your branding objectives, and, naturally, moms tend to love everything their children do, so their feedback could be very subjective. You’ll get the best feedback from an entrepreneurial networking group or find people in your target audience to get their opinion.
If you would like help in naming your business, we’re happy to help! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about our naming service.