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5 Tips For Choosing the Right Business Name

  • November 12, 2014
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What's in a Name? Everything!

Naming your business is likely one of the most important decisions you will ever make. The right name can enhance your appeal and credibility to clients and customers, while the wrong one can serve to repel your ideal prospects, limit your opportunities for growth or even get you into legal hot water.

To ensure that you are on the right track to success and to avoid costly consequences down the road, consider the following five tips as you begin to explore the possibilities.

Begin with the end in mind

Envision your ideal business situation in 5-10 years time and work backwards from there. For example, do you hope to expand geographically? If so, avoid limiting your growth objectives by including a city or town in your name. Perhaps you intend to grow your team – either modestly or exponentially. If that's the case, consider the addition of "group," "and associates," or "and company" to your choice.

It is important that you build flexibility into your name from the outset. If you're planning to widen your product line in the future, you want to avoid boxing yourself in this way as well.

A useful exercise is to compose your company's mission, vision and value statements in advance of selecting a name. This is not only helpful in conjuring up the future, it can serve as a check as to how well your name represents and reflects the core essence of your business.

Concise wins over clever every time

As the old marketing adage goes, "a confused mind doesn't buy." Ideally, your business name should very clearly communicate the expertise, value and uniqueness of the product or service you are offering. The more effectively your name conveys to consumers the nature of your business, the less effort you will need to exert to explain it. That is not to say you can't be imaginative, just be conscious and cautious with your creativity.

Obscure, difficult and made-up words should generally be avoided as well. Unless of course you have a brilliant marketing strategist on the pay role from the outset, in which case you can be as innovative as your heart desires. To illustrate, imagine a scenario where "Google" was instead

Your ultimate aim is to make your name unforgettable, not unpronounceable; strive for relevance, readability and relatability.

Customer appeal is key

While it's important that you are happy with your business name, it is critical that your name choice is attractive to your ideal client or customers.

Avoid tendencies towards being cute, unless to do so is in complete alignment with your business. "Puppy Love Dog Groomers" is a reasonably suitable name, but "Puppy Love Engineering Services" is not likely a wise idea.

Do your due diligence

Once you've narrowed down your business names to a few top contenders, it's imperative that do a solid investigation on a few fronts. The first is to search the name to ensure you are free and clear from infringing on any trademarks of another business (Check with Information Services Corporation). The second key consideration is whether the associated domain name is available (Check with Varial). As well, it's important that your name does not closely resemble that of competitors or other related service providers in your industry. Failure to heed this last point will result in endless headaches for you and your customers. When in doubt, be sure to consult legal advice.

Take it for a test drive

Once you've gotten all of the legal and pragmatic logistics covered with respect to your top choices, it's time to do some consumer research and/or engage a focus group to analyze your name. This does not have to be an overly complicated process, but it is a very important step that can't be disregarded.

As humans, we naturally get attached to ideas that we've come up with. As a result, this tends to hinder our objectivity and sometimes cloud good judgment. Take the opportunity to get some educated feedback on your selections prior to making your final decision.

Lastly, take the time to try your choices on for size before officially committing yourself. Say the names aloud repeatedly, imagine the names in commercial radio spots or even have a designer mock up a few logo options for you. All of these efforts will definitely worth your time, both now and later.

Once you decide on a business name there are a few more steps you need to consider. Check out our Saskatchewan Business Startup Checklist for the complete guide.