5 Questions To Consider When Naming Your Business

Questions To Ask When Naming Your Business

What is in a name? Quite a lot actually.

The name of your business is your first impression to the rest of the world and your potential customers.

Building a solid business relationship begins when the individual first comes into contact with your business name. This guide will introduce you to several considerations you should make before settling on a name for your business. By the end of it, you should have a better idea of what considerations to make when naming your business and what should be avoided.

So let’s start with one of the most important considerations…

1. Have you considered internet-friendliness when naming your business?

In todays day and age your business name needs to be internet-friendly.

Most people are going to be turning to web searches or your website to locate products and contact information.

Remember potential customers typically try YOURBUSINESSNAME.com first if they are looking for your business website before jumping to a search engine.

Remember To Be Google Friendly When Naming Your Business

In The Digital Age Google Will Impact Your Business Name Choice

So you’ll want your business name to by easy to remember and easy to spell…

Here’s an example…

Let’s use an American brand of canned food called “Chef Boyardee”

The original chef was Italian immigrant Ettore Boiardi who opened the restaurant Il Giardino d’Italia in 1924. The idea for releasing canned foods came from repeated requests for recipes from his restaurant customers. Boiardi decided to can some of his Italian dishes and sell them for home dinners and called them “Chef Boiardi”. Then in 1928, he decided to change the name of his product line to “Boyardee” so that the public would actually pronounce his name correctly.

What if Boiardi decided to launch his product today? How many of his potential customers would be butchering the name Boiardi when trying to look up his business or product online? How much business would he lose to the competition?

While we’re talking about Family Names as business names… You’ve also got to consider the use of common family names in your business name giving you problems. Why you ask? Because there will be many other businesses with similar names. Smith Plumbing and Smith Technology may not necessarily be easy to confuse, but neither name will stand out in a customer’s mind. They are just too generic.

Quick pointers to keep in mind when naming your business for the web…

  • The business name should be easy to remember and easy to spell.
  • Australia-specific businesses should pick a name with an available YOURBUSINESSNAME.com.au domain.
  • If the business is going to serve a worldwide customer base, try to choose a name with an available .com domain.
  • Common family names aren’t necessarily the best names when it comes to web friendly

2. Will the business name hold up in the long term?

Choose a name that will be relevant years down the road.

Let me explain, acronyms and generic names can cause future problems for your business. You never know what your future competition will be for an acronym. People are regularly looking for ways to shorten things up. Can you imagine the potential fallout for a business with an acronym like “CSI” after the popular television show aired? The business site would get drowned out by the millions of searches for content relevant to the television show.

Will Your Business Name Last?

Will Your Business Name Last Long Term?

Generic names suffer the same problem. Choose a generic name and you may be competing with everyone else in the world with similar keywords in their business name.

And while puns as business names are often a popular choice for some; will it still be funny after 20 years? Will your regular customers find it funny or annoying? Do you want to take the chance on your potential customers having the same sense of humour that you do?

Including a location in a business name is another poor choice. What if your business takes off and you decide to open additional businesses? Will it make sense to have “Sydney Plumbing and Repair” open up in Adelaide? Will customers easily figure out that “Sydney Plumbing and Repair” even serves Adelaide if they are on your website? They’re going to look at the word “Sydney” and assume they’re on the wrong page. Most are not going to look for the address.

There is a fine balance you need between easy to remember and unique.

Here’s some quick tips to ensure your business name holds up long term…

  • Avoid picking a business name that latches onto a current trend or fad.
  • Avoid puns and humour (unless your business related to humour)
  • Avoid acronyms or generic or location based names when possible.

3. Is your choice in business name already in use elsewhere?

Perform thorough research before settling on a business name. You do not want to get hit with legal troubles because you picked a name that someone has already been using. If push comes to shove, it will be the business who was using the name first that will prevail in court. Save yourself the pain by thoroughly researching the name. If you’re in Australia do a search on ASIC to to see if a business name is taken. And utilise search engines to try and locate other uses of the name.

You can check trademark use in Australia through IP Australia. Or do a worldwide check through the World Intellectual Property Organization’s database of trademarks from around the world.

Find a new name and rebranding an already established business is very costly. The established business needs to change all of their signage, documentation, and pay necessary fees at minimum. Being taken to court opens up a whole new world of expense that can be a major dent into the profits of a business. We’re talking expenses in tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Avoid all of those problems by ensuring your choice of business name is not already in use.

Quick tips to make sure the business name isn’t already in use elsewhere…

  • Check the business name against Business name Registrars (in Australia is ASIC)
  • Check the business name against existing trademarks both local and worldwide

4. Is your business name actually relevant to your business?

Is your business name hard to understand or uses industry-specific words? The name isn’t likely to reach potential customers. The name need not be an exact representation of your business; but it should not hint at a different business or industry. That just confuses the customer and causes them to think that your business does not offer the type of service or product they may be looking for. Industry-specific terminology can work if it is simple enough that a layman can put everything together.

What would the business name “Suit Up!” mean to you without any other context? Is it a clothing store? A place to rent tuxedos or bridesmaid dresses? A men’s store? How about the name of a diving school; in reference to putting on a wet-suit? It could potentially be any of them. What if you’re the owner of the diving school? Are customers going to equate “Suit Up!” to a diving school based on industry-specific terms or are they more likely to conclude it is a clothing store?

Are the potential customers going to bother to try and find out? No. They will not. They will draw their conclusion and move on to find the business that can offer what they are looking for. The customer will follow the path of least resistance. The job of marketers and business owners alike is to make it easy for the customers to give them their business.

The “Suit Up!” name could be made appropriate with a little adjustment. “Suit Up! Diving School” is still using industry-specific terms, but the addition of “Diving School” communicates exactly what the business does. Potential customers will be able to connect the dots with those context clues and conclude that, “oh, they mean wet-suits.”

Some quick tips on ensuring your name is relevant…

  • If possible, have what you do in the name of your business
  • Ask yourself if someone only heard/read the name would they know what you do

5. How much should you worry about these potential points?

While the points here are in line with commonly held marketing techniques and psychology, you can still find exceptions to every suggestion listed.

That’s why I’ve given you examples of the logic behind each point so that you can make an informed choice about your current or future business name.

Will a bad business name stop you from succeeding in business? No absolutely not, but it may make things much harder.

And if you have to go through a name change later in your business life, it will definitely set you back significantly. So be certain the name you finally settle on is not already in use.

Final point…

Write Out A List Of Business Name Ideas

Don’t get too bogged down in naming your business.

Sit down, develop a list of 10-15 potential names, and share it with the people who are closest to your target market and listen intently to all the feedback you receive before settling on a name for your business.

PRO TIP: Friends, family, and potential business partners can be well meaning but often harmful with their business feedback, so do your best to find those who match the target audience of your business instead.

Carl is the Author of Red Means Go! and founder of Business Builders Academy. He invests in and runs a number of businesses, and regularly teaches business skills through online training and live speaking events.

About The Author

Carl Taylor

Carl is the Author of Red Means Go! and founder of Business Builders Academy. He invests in and runs a number of businesses, and regularly teaches business skills through online training and live speaking events.