Since I have worked with a lot of small businesses, I have seen a lot of good names. And I’ve seen a lot of bad ones. While the bad ones are entertaining for some of us, they’re not good for the businesses that wear them.
Once you have decided to start a business and you have your mission, doesn’t it make sense that the name is the next most important thing? Every dime you spend promoting your business and building your brand will go straight into your name. Everything that is unique and useful and wonderful about your business has to be communicated in your business name.
Your name becomes synonymous with your brand, your reputation, your business identity. The one thing people think of when they think of your business, is your name.
Is anything more important to your business than its name?
Yet, every day people start businesses and give them names without even thinking about the power and importance your business name carries. So, we see cute and silly and weird and confusing names of businesses that leave us wondering.
When I name a business, here are some rules I observe, at least as guidelines.
Your small business name should:
1.Be easy to say.
2.Be easy to spell or write.
3.Be easy to remember.
5.Say something about what the business does.
6.Be unique in its market.
7.Not be offensive to anyone.
It’s important to remember, these guidelines are all in the context of your market. Understand the norms of your community and your industry before you pick a name for your business. What’s appropriate and professional in one marketing might be ridiculous in another.
We have a restaurant in our town. Their name is simply: Jensen’s Cafe. Not too exciting or memorable, But they serve a local crowd and they occupy a central location in the city. And, the Jensen family has owned another restaurant in a neighboring community for many years. They have a good name in town. Plus, their goal was to create a family-owned, local cafe, like we used to see in small towns years ago.
So, it made sense for them to use their name in the business name. And it works.
Many professionals use their own names for or as part of their business names. This is standard and accepted in the professions. So, it makes sense. If you need an accountant, are you going to call "Lewis Winthorp, CPA, MBA" or "Billy Buds Bean Counting Service"?
Some people think they should have a name that is completely made up so it will be unique or memorable. They point to "Yahoo" or "Google" as examples of why this might work.
And, if you have millions of dollars to promote your new name, then maybe it will work. But, generally speaking, "made-up" names do not work for small businesses because nobody knows what they mean. And most small businesses do not have enough resources to make the name meaningful.
Also, try to avoid being too cute, clever or cliché. Your business name should get people to your business. It should not overshadow everything about your business. And, too often cute, clever or cliché wind up being cryptic.
Beauty & The Beach (A beauty salon)
Paws for Thought (A pet store)
Pizza the Action (A pizza place)
Wok this Way (An Asian restaurant)
I know some people love names like these. My personal opinion is that they’re too clever. Maybe if In wrote a novel, I’d use one of them but not in real life.
Darrell Zahorsky has a good article called The 10 Commandments of a Great Business Name with some good advice on naming your small business.
The main thing to remember when naming your business is, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What name will help them identify and remember your business?
Do this and you’ll find all your marketing is more effective.