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Factors to Consider When Choosing a Business Name

What’s in a name? Quite a lot actually, especially if it’s for your business.

Choosing a business name can be a difficult decision. Both for symbolic reasons (does this represent who we are and build trust or authenticity?) and for pragmatic reasons (can our audience find us and do they know what we do?) and more often than not, success will hinge on your ability to choose the right name for your company. To this end, there are a plethora of free business/company name generators available to budding entrepreneurs and seasoned business professionals to help them come up with a number of cool and wacky brand name suggestions

But before we get to that stage, there are a few things that should be taken into account.

In this article, we consider a number of important factors when choosing a name for your business, helping you to make the right naming decision that will last your business for years to come.

1. Finding a domain name

The most important decision is finding a business name that ties in your online and offline presence. You can pick the greatest name in the world but if you can’t find a matching domain for it, you aren’t going to see as much traction as an exact match domain. Despite the growth of non-traditional domains ending in ‘.cloud’, ‘.UK’ and even ‘.doctor’, the traditional ‘.com’ is still the most recognised domain extension in the world. As soon as you start to generate business names ideas, use our tool to help you check if there are domains available that match your wording. The great thing is, as you enter the words, it’ll show you a mix of domain names available. So even if the traditional, original version of the name you first thought of is taken, you could still potentially find a variation that works. Google, as we know it today, was meant to be Googol once upon a time, defined as a large number equal to ten raised to the power of a hundred, and indicative of the brand’s efforts to organise the vast amount of information found on the internet. Google encountered the same problem that many will face when choosing a domain name in that their desired domain name was not available. Instead, ‘Google.com’, a slight misspelling on Googol.com, was, so they embraced it.  Google now appears in the dictionary in it’s own right.

When EchoBay.com wasn’t available as a domain name, the Echo Bay Technology Group settled for Ebay.com, now one of the biggest ecommerce site and most recognisable brand in the world.

Once you have a business name that works offline and for your online presence, you’re 90% of the way there.

It’s also worth checking the availability of social media vanity URLs across the various social platforms especially if you’ll be using social media as part of your marketing strategy.

2. Improving brand awareness

If you’re just starting out, getting your brand recognised may be your number one challenge. This will be even more difficult if there are already companies out there with a similar name. If you’ve already found your business name with a domain name to match, this can be a good sign. However, it’s always worth doing a quick Google search on those terms and to check sources such as Companies House for businesses that are too closely matched. Names that are too similar can cause confusion especially when it comes to searchability, not to mention the potential legal implications, particularly in related industries. A business that has a similar name to your brand name or the business name you desire and operating in the same industry, will probably be ranking in Google so it would likely require a huge amount of effort and resources for you to compete.  

3. Ensuring longevity

How many of your teenage email addresses do you still use today? As we grow, we evolve and change how we present ourselves. The same is true for your business. If your business has long-term aims to grow and expand make sure you pick a name that can do the same. This means removing any dates, numbers or popular culture references, which might be trendy at the time but probably won’t be in five, ten or fifty years time, nor would it be relevant.  Also, think about what future skills and areas of expertise your name could cover – you never know where you might end up! Amazon, one of the largest and most recognisable commercial online brands, had a tagline which was originally ‘Earth’s biggest bookstore’ but that certainly wouldn’t fit with where the company is today. Choosing a name and a tagline that will stand the test of time will go a long way.

4. Creating variations

Did you know you can have both a trading and a corporate name? This means that the corporate name you register your company under (e.g. one that ends in ‘limited’) doesn’t have to be the same name that you use to head up your marketing. Most companies use a trading name so that they don’t have to use a longer, more formal corporate name to trade under but it can also help you generate a more creative name and one that you can find a domain for too.

5. Visually effective

Studies show that we have the capacity to remember what we see much more than what we read or hear. One mistake many make is to not think about what their business name and logo might actually look like. For example, a long business name might be difficult to turn into a logo, and not to mention, forgettable. In some cases, people will end up abbreviating the name and you might not have a say in what it is abbreviated to. Generally, a shorter business name has more chance of success as it tends to be more memorable (think Apple, Amazon, Google, Intel, Yahoo and Twitter). However, a name that’s too short, or an acronym (of course there are always exceptions e.g. IBM which stands for International Business Machines, but more often than not, is only understood by those close to the company and not very pragmatic) might not create a memorable visual representation. If you can think of a business name and picture it as an incredible logo (or ‘up in lights’ as they say) on your website, business card, letterhead or even your advertising campaign, you could be onto a winner.

The brand name Coca-Cola was derived from two key ingredients found in the iconic soft drink: Coca Leaves and Kola Nuts. Founder, John S. Pemberton cleverly put the two names together (also note the alliteration here) and decided to change the ‘K’ in Kola to a ‘C’ as it was more aesthetically pleasing. The Coca-Cola logo is one of the most recognisable in the world and might have looked a rather different if Pemberton had stuck with the ‘K’.

6.Brand growth and diversification

If you see a future for your brand then try to think beyond the here and now. Many companies make the mistake of naming their company after their current product offering or their geographic location, which might make sense at the time, but should they wish to extend their product offering or branch into different locations in the future, they may find it a difficult task. Changing a name might be a drastic step but a necessary one to avoid stunting a company’s growth. Minnesota Manufacturing and Mining became 3M, a company now known for innovation (think Post-It notes and Scotch tape) instead of just manufacturing and mining when they found that they were beginning to outgrow both their industry and their state, whilst Kentucky Fried Chicken is now known simply as the famous acronym, KFC.

7.Be informative

Connecting your company name to the purpose of your business or a choosing a brand name that infers the type of goods/services that you offer will make it much easier on potential customers to understand immediately what your proposition is and is, therefore, likely to be memorable too. It can also help a company to convey a benefit within it’s name and makes it easier for people to find (through association) your business when searching both online and offline. A generic name that gives little away will find it hard to rank for keywords/ terms in search engines and will just get lost amongst the noise.

7 Eleven, one of the biggest international chain of convenience stores, was formerly named  Tote’m Stores. The re-brand in 1946 was to reflect the chain’s newly extended opening hours, 7 am to 11 pm, naturally. Not only does the new company name contain alliteration making it highly memorable, it provides people with information about the store i.e. open 7-11, hence making it a name that is hard to forget.

Deciding on the right business name is a key factor in the startup of your business, and could potentially make or break it, but it shouldn’t hold you back. Use our free business name generator tool to help see what business names you can generate with an appropriate domain to match and you’ll quickly be on your way to the important part – turning your business into a success.

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