How to choose a business name

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Anyone who’s ever started up their own business will tell you it takes a lot of hard work to get any venture up and running. What they may not tell you though, is what should be the relatively simple task of naming your venture, can actually one of the toughest and most important decisions you’ll have to make.

Your business name not only has to say something about what your company has to offer, it should also reflect your brand identity, and help set your business apart from the competition – in short, you get the name wrong, and the success of your business could suffer.

What’s in a business name?

If you think your business name won’t have that big an impact on your business, it’s time to think again.

A recent survey from Vistaprint, the business card specialists, found that witty business names were more likely to resonate with UK consumers, with a quarter of respondents even reporting they get better service from a shop with a great name, even when there was no actual evidence to back this claim up.

Other highlights from the survey included:

  • 66% say a quirky business name is more appealing simply because it makes them smile, while 50% think it makes the business easier to remember.
  • 40% reported a humorous business name is more memorable and would encourage them to use that business over a competitor.
  • 35% would be more likely to recommend a business with a witty name, ahead of any with simpler, more descriptive names.

Arguably the most striking finding from the survey was just how big an impact your business name can have on the perception of your company, and the quality of the goods and services it offers.

So, to make sure you get your venture off to a flying start, here’s how to choose a brilliant business name, in seven simple steps.

7 top tips to help you choose a business name

If you’re struggling to suss out exactly what to call your business, or even if you’ve got a name you want to go with, check out our seven tips for choosing a business name before you make a final decision – it could make the all the difference to the success of your start-up.

1. Think of a future-proof name

No-one knows where your business will be in the next five years, so try not to be too specific with your name by including just one product or service that you offer - you may expand your product range or services, or even branch out into entirely different areas, in which case you may find the name no longer reflects your business, and may even sell it short.

2. Don’t try to be too smart

Unless a key part of your brand identity, try to avoid using odd spellings that could quickly date or make it difficult for customers and clients to find you in the local search and telephone listings. A business name that’s simple to spell and pronounce business will make your company easier to find.

3. Make sure the domain name is available

Your business needs an online presence, even if only so potential customers can find you in local search results, so before finalising your business name, first make sure the website domain name is available –compromising on your web address can make it difficult to remember, and if it’s different from your business name, this can confuse customers and make you difficult to find.

4. Be unique

A great business name will make you stand out from the crowd, and mean that customers are more likely to identify you as a unique brand – so try to be original in your branding. A word of warning though, try not to make your business name too personal - if your customers can’t identify with the brand name, or don’t get the pun, it will lose its impact.

5. Acronyms and abbreviations aren’t always best

Short, memorable names are often best for businesses – they’re easier to remember, if nothing else – but while acronyms can be an effective and memorable way to get your brand message across, they’re also easy to misspell and misremember. So unless you have a set of easy-to-remember and difficult-to-misremember letters, backed up by a solid marketing strategy, acronyms are probably best avoided.

6. Consider your customer base

Your customer base is the most important consideration when choosing a business name – if it doesn’t immediately resonate, it’s unlikely it ever will. So always consider who your clients and your target market when choosing your name – if you’re running a homely café, for instance, avoid anything to clinical sounding. If, on the other hand, you own a professional consultancy firm, it’s best not to use emotive words.

7. Ask for ideas

Your business may be your brainchild, but that doesn’t mean you have to make every major decision alone, and that includes settling on a name for your venture. So once you have a few ideas, see what your friends, family, colleagues and even possible employees think – more input means more ideas, and someone may hit upon a winner you’d never have even considered.

How to get your business name out there

Once you’ve settled on a name for your business, it’s time to start spreading the word – even if you’ve not started trading yet, it’s never too early to build up a bit of anticipation around your brand. So get your website up and running as soon as possible, even if it’s just a placeholder, and create content that creates a buzz.

Then get registered with all the social media channels you’ll be using to promote your business, and get listed on all the relevant directory sites to start ranking in Google’s local search results.

A catchy name alongside a solid marketing strategy mean both your business and brand identity should continue to go from strength to strength.

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