Coming up with a great name for your business should never be taken lightly. You want something that grabs people’s attention, is easy to remember, has long-lasting appeal, and reinforces your burgeoning brand. This is trickier even than it sounds. What’s more, when you’re trying to think of a name, you’re just starting out and have plenty on your plate already. But think through this decision carefully. You want to get it right the first time. It can be confusing to customers and colleagues if you attempt a name change down the road.
Do: Make it Catchy
Obviously, you’ll want a brand name that people will recognize in the crowd. Remember, the shorter the better. Anything more than a few syllables will usually be difficult to remember. Gimmicks like alliterations or rhymes can be helpful as long as they appropriately express the idea you’re trying to convey. The name should both look good on paper and sound good to the ear.
Don’t: Get Too Creative or Descriptive
Creativity and imagination are fantastic and essential for any entrepreneur. But don’t go over board when naming your business. Feel free to make up words (Google or Yelp anyone?) but consider the auditory implications if you’re trying to burst on the scene with a made-up phrase or word. Both Google and Yelp are simple, aesthetic and auditory pleasing words that can also act as verbs. Something like FizzleMondo might just be confusing. Additionally, don’t try and stuff a description of your service or product into your business name, unless you can do so tersely and without sacrificing other considerations.
Do: Consider a Trademark
If your business is successful and begins to grow, you’ll probably want to trademark the name. Do your research beforehand or you risk discovering that your name has already been trademarked.
Don’t: Fall Victim to Text Message Syndrome
A lot of businesses do this successfully, so take this with a grain of salt. But if you use alternative spellings in your name, or insert punctuation marks or numbers to try to add a bit of flair, you run the risk of not being remembered. The last thing you want is for a potential customer to try to look for your business based on the name they’ve heard, and then give up when they can’t figure out how to spell it.
Do: Test the Waters
Utilize everyone at your disposal to gather opinions on your business name. Friends, colleagues, family members, even existing customers, can all contribute to a great name. You want something that resonates with a large number of people. Additionally, do some testing with Google Adwords to see if there are other businesses with names that are too similar. Finally, make sure your business name does not mean something offensive in a foreign language. This happens more than you may think.
Don’t: Resist Change if it’s Necessary
It’s a tough decision to have to change your business name, but if things simply aren’t working, you may have no choice. If you realize early on that your name is not accurate or doesn’t reflect the concepts and ideals you’re trying to convey, go for the change. It’s better to change early than try to grow your business with a name that’s not working.
Adam Toren is an Award Winning Author, Serial Entrepreneur, and Investor. He Co-Founded YoungEntrepreneur.com along with his brother Matthew. Adam is co-author of the newly released book: Small Business, Big Vision: “Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right” and also co-author of Kidpreneurs.
Follow Adam on Twitter: @thebizguy