It’s also the first step in branding your business.
Getting it right can set you up for amazing success. Getting it wrong can cost you money and time to fix latter down the road.
But remember naming your business right doesn’t make up for a bad business idea or product. You’ve got to get those right first.
Think of it like icing on a cake. If the icing looks amazing but the cake tastes awful, you’re still going to spit it out, no matter how nice the icing is.
The Two Strategies For Naming Your Business
There are 2 paths you can take when naming your business.
#1: You name your business after you. This is the personal brand path
#2: You create a brand name.
The method you choose will come down to the type of business you’re starting.
If you’re starting a business that is focused on your personal brand or a business that is more service than product-based, you can just name the business after you.
So, if you’re a coach, consultant or creative you can just name your business, Sarah Jones Coaching or just Sarah Jones.
However, if you’re starting a business selling an app you’ll want to have a brand name for your app.
As mentioned earlier naming your business is the first step in branding your business.
It’ll inform your decisions around the logo, fonts, and colours.
And let’s face it, just like you can give a child a bad name, you can also give your business a bad name. Both will cost money in the long term, so let’s get it right the first time.
Company Name vs Business Name
You may be wondering about the difference between your business trading name and registered company name. Your registered company name is your LLC name in the US or Limited Company name in UK. This is the legal name you register with your local authority.
Your business name is the trading name of your company. These 2 do not need to be the same. For example my registered company name is Lucian Gem International Ltd and one of my trading names is Step Up Boss Up Training.
Taking this path means you don’t have to overthink the name for your registered company. You can then create as many businesses as you want under your registered business, naming them whatever you like. You could name your first business as your personal brand and then create other businesses with different names.
What Does My business name mean?
Start by deciding what you want your name to communicate. To be most effective, your company name should reinforce the key elements of your business.
Does your name really need to be meaningful? Yes, it does. You don’t want to spend an unlimited amount of time explaining your business name to everyone that hears it. You want your name to communicate to your consumers what your business is all about.
Be careful not to name your business a name that will limit your niche or your geographic location. Your name needs to grow with your business.
If you want to grow or expand your business beyond your current niche one day, bare that in mind when you’re naming your business. You may not want your name to be too niche orientated.
If you were to start up a gardening business and you wanted to grow into landscaping in the future, you wouldn’t want to have a business name like Lorraine’s Petunias. Without a lot of thought, you might come up with Lorraine’s Outdoor Garden centre.
A great real-world example of best creative naming your business practice is within the Digital Marketing Niche. Most agencies have very creative non-descriptive names, like Big Fish or Fat Joe.
This allows them to start their business in one niche, say SEO, then add different digital marketing services as they grow, never having to think about their business name holding them back.
Then you have other agencies who are very niche orientated. So a social media management agency naming themselves, something like SociallySavvy.
You see where one can limit your business to selling one product or service. Whereas another can leave the door open for you to expand your offerings right from the beginning.
Make sure your name doesn’t limit you to a specific niche unless you know for sure you will never go any further.
Best Practices For Naming Your Business
Here are the 6 best practices to follow when naming your business;
1. Location Specific
Make sure it does not limit you to a specific geographical location.
You wouldn’t want to add Michigan into Sarah Jones Coaching because that would limit it to those living in the Michigan area. This would be especially true if you are online. Think Global.
If you want to only sell to a specific location, then, by all means, use your town or state or even your country in your business name. Would you click on my links if it took you to London Internet Marketing service? Well, you might if you were in London. But my business reaches worldwide, and I just put a limit on who I might reach with my online business.
Make your name easy for people to pronounce.
Make it easy to spell especially for people doing searches online for your business. You don’t want them to end up on someone else’s sight.
3. Keep it Short
The longer you make a name, the easier it is to forget part of it, jumble the combination or get the spelling wrong. All of which will stop your customers from finding you online. Also, think about domain names. No one wants to type www.thewindmillhotelandspaeastvillage.com.
I once worked somewhere that had a long name like that and often made mistakes when working on the website. If your employees get lost in your names, customer most definitely will.
4. Business Objectives
Make sure your name fits your objectives. Your name should describe the company that you have in mind. So if you are starting a digital marketing agency, including digital or marketing in the name will clarify your objectives.
Make sure you like your business name. You’re going to have to live with this name every day for the next 5 to 10 years, so you better like it. If you have passion and enthusiasm for the name that will be shown when you speak about it.
Naming your business is just another process of creating a business you love and are passionate about.
Make sure that your name is your name and that it is not already in use.
Once you come up with a name you may go through the disappointment of discovering that someone else has already beat you to it. This is why it’s a good idea to come up with at least 2-3 business names you love.
This is especially true in the .com market today. There are over 50 million .com names registered and it is getting hard to get that special name you desire. But don’t let it get you down. Keep going and you will find that special name.
To find out if your name is available you can use my favourite domain search at Godaddy.
This can help you find out if there are other businesses using your chosen name already or similar names that are close to the name you have chosen that could be associated with your name.
Sites like these can also help you narrow down your choices. They will also give you alternative names to the name you have chosen if it is taken. If you can’t have your top choice as a .com domain, you might want to consider alternative spellings, choices or other top domains (i.e., “.net” or “.us”).
Once your decision is made, start building your enthusiasm for the new name immediately. Your name is your first step toward building a strong company identity, one that should last you as long as you’re in business.
How to Choose Your Methodology
As mentioned above you have two choices when naming your business, but you have 4 methodologies in terms of coming up with a name for your business.
Your personal name
This is the easiest option. But as mentioned before should only be used if you’re building a personal brand that you are going to be involved in every step of the way.
Take two works and put them together. This can be difficult to pull off as it can cause pronunciation issues. Like “CaiShan” or “Nubianjet”. But something like “Digicel” works.
You know what service or product you’ll be selling and the benefits it will offer your ideal clients. So, use that knowledge to come up with keywords that you can use to name your business.
Example: Female Entrepreneur StartUp Academy. This includes my target clients, plus the area I’m focused on [start up’s], plus the word academy lets the client know it’s education-based.
Industry or Niche-Based
This is when you take the industry or niche you’ll be working in and including this in your business name. So think “T-Mobile”, Stage Digital Marketing, Tap Ballet Agency.
When choosing a Business Name there are a few other issues you need to be aware of, besides domain name availability. You also need to be aware of Trademarks and Registered business names.
These belong to registered businesses. So, both publicly traded and private registered company names are protected by the law. In the UK those would-be companies with PLC, LTD & LLP after their names. If you try to name your business using an already registered name you will land in legal hot water.
Also, if you’re planning on registering your company there are certain rules around names for registered companies you need to be aware of.
A trademark protects brand names and logos used on goods and services.
A trademark may be designated by the following symbols: ™ (the “trademark symbol”, which is the letters “TM” in superscript, for an unregistered trademark, a mark used to promote or brand goods) ℠ (which is the letters “SM” in superscript, for an unregistered service mark, a mark used to promote or brand services).
So if you come up with a business name that you discover has been trademarked by someone else, you’ll need to find a new name. Or if you have a name you love and a logo to match, then you can trademark it for protection.
Business Name Generators
Below are some great tools and resources to help you name your business;
If you’re looking to get started with any of these steps, check out the Build Your Business Vault – where you’ll find templates, worksheets and checklists that will help you get started!