You just had the perfect business idea and now you’re scrambling around to put together a business plan that’s going to take it to fruition. You’ve pulled together the capital you need to kick-start it; assembled a really good team or you’ve opted to go the journey alone. You have a great location in mind, if a brick and mortar business is your thing or maybe you’ll be working from home. Fantastic!
There’s just ONE tiny little detail that’s holding you back. You can’t quite come up with the perfect business name! Or maybe you have, but you’re not sure what to do next. And how well the new name will be received by your target market or audience?
Here are seven tips to help you name your new startup.
1. The name should be easily pronounced, especially if it’s a made-up word.
Brands like Häagen-Dazs come to mind. Naming your company is a lot like finding the perfect name for a baby. While it’s great that you want to be extremely creative and original, sometimes reining that enthusiasm in is not such a bad approach. Every day people mispronounce global brands like Nike, Volkswagen, Louis Vuitton, Hublot, and IKEA. Keep it simple and ensure the winning name is one everyone else (not just you) will be able to sound out properly. Be sure it can be pronounced properly in foreign countries (with foreign languages) as well.
2. Don’t get a generic name that lacks meaning to your startup.
Try to focus on being authentic, original, and personalise your startup. Your goal should be to stand out from the crowd. If you’re thinking of starting a flower shop, the words “flower shop” don’t need to always be included. Examine your company’s products and services to draw some inspiration for good name options. The activewear brand, Under Armour makes for a good example in those instances. You can also stop and think about what is it you want your customers to do like action camera manufacturer GoPro (Go professional). Get it?
3. Avoid using acronyms or shortened names.
While dropping vowels from words to create the perfect name for a tech startup seems to be all the rage these days, using acronyms or initials for your catering business might not work. You first priority will be to build your brand and identity. Trying to be “cool” or “trendy” is not where you need to be putting your efforts, especially as it relates to marketing (and advertising). Let your target market get used to hearing your company name in full (as is). A company like 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) rebranded because its customers came up with the name. In those instances it works to go with a shortened version of your company name.
4. Make sure it’s a name you can have trademarked.
Here’s one of the most common mistakes those new to entrepreneurship typically make. They create the perfect business, find the best location and space (if it’s a brick and mortar model), and the ideal name for their startup. Everything looks great on paper too. Do you only want to sell within your own country or do you eventually want to become an international merchant? Please ensure you declare your business ambitions. When they go in to register their business name and logo that’s when they find out the name or something like it already exists, whether locally or internationally. That takes me to my next tip.
5. Check your local registrar of companies and do your own search for the name availability.
Do your research from the very start. There’s nothing more disappointing than failing to look into name availability for a startup. In most countries, all it takes is phone call or an online search on your local registrar of companies’ website. In Ontario, Canada for example, you can contact Service Canada to search for, register and renew a business name online. It’s usually offered as a government service and search is usually free. Registration on the other hand is done at a nominal fee. If you haven’t decided on a name, bring your list with you and take the time to find out if any or all are already taken. Invest the time in research so you don’t wind up wasting a lot of that precious resource.
6. Google is also perfect to do business name search.
Most people might not be aware, but there’s no platform better for a name search than Google. It’s one of the easiest ways and points to start from. It’s also FREE! Simply type in the name (or names) you have in mind and see what the results return. For the record that was NOT a lesson on “How to Google For Dummies”. However, try to combine this with checking with your local registrar of companies. Some businesses may or may not have a digital or online footprint depending on where in the world they are.
7. Test it out on your family and friends to gain their feedback.
This one is perhaps one of the most important tips I can leave with you. Always, always, always test out your potential startup names on your family members and close friends. Their feedback will be invaluable. Before you try out your names on them, be sure to give them context about your business, services, products, target market, and ambitions. Sometimes what we think is a winner, is actually not. What sounds good to us might not sound good to the masses. So get out your list, put it on a wall for all to see, get a marker (Sharpie works fine), and start eliminating the names they dislike and checking the ones they do like.
Remember, your business name is the foundation on which your brand and identity will be built. Get it right.