What will you call your new business? – This is a challenge all new business owners face and whilst it can be creative and fun, it’s also a decision not to be taken lightly. After all, your business name is likely to be with you for the long haul and will have significant implications for your brand identity, your marketing, and even your online visibility.
So how do you decide what is right for you, whilst staying legal?
Here are five top tips to help you pin down the perfect name.
1. What’s in a name?
To start with you need to get clear on what you want your business name to achieve. For example:
- What impression do you want to create?
- Do you want people to automatically know what your business is offering?
- Are you keen to be creative and use a made-up name that’s more abstract?
- Do you want to imply a location (this can be useful if your business will operate locally)?
- Do you want to show whos involved in the business?
With this in mind, you can get a brainstorm. You may already have quite a good idea of what you’d like to be called. Alternatively, you may be starting completely from scratch. So grab some paper, post-its, and colored pens, and just jot down what comes to mind. Try not to discredit anything at this point because one idea may lead to another.
2. What are your naming options?
Every business is different but name choices often fall into one of four common categories. Do any of these suit you?
- Trade under your name – For example Dawn Lane, Virtual Assistant
- Use a name that clearly states what you do – For example, Gem Writing, Optimise SEO, Virtual Business In A Box
- Make up a word – For example Yahoo or Google
- Choose something abstract – E.g. Apple (it has nothing to do with fruit!)
3. What should you consider?
Perhaps you’ve chosen a name that you love, but will it work in reality? Consider the following:
Is it memorable? You want potential customers to be able to associate you with your business name
Is it easy to pronounce and spell? This could be crucial if you want people to be able to search online for your business from memory.
Is the name too long? This may make designing your business card, logo, signage, etc tricky.
Will it appeal to your target customer? For example, something modern and trendy sounding may conflict with the tradition and heritage you really wanted to convey. It’s not enough for you to like it, your customers must too
Is it unique? Ideally, you don’t want anyone else to be trading under the same name that you are (and in certain cases its actually illegal)
Does it feel right? Often your gut instinct will tell you when you’ve hit on the right name. It will somehow feel just perfecT
Does it mean something else in another language? Some businesses have been caught out when they discovered their chosen name means something entirely different when translated into a foreign language! Obviously, this is more significant if you plan to trade overseas but it’s worth thinking about to avoid embarrassment later
Is it too abstract? Whilst some abstract names can be cool, is it going to make it more difficult for you to get recognized and establish yourself?
Will it help you get found online? Many start-up businesses rely on the internet traffic to get going. Having a keyword in your business name can be an advantage and potential customers will more easily identify that you are a possible solution to their needs if your name states what you do
4. Is your name viable?
Once you’ve got a clearer idea of what you think you may call your business you need to check if you can use it.
To start with doing a Google search to see what you discover. You may find the name is already in use or that the word you’ve chosen has got some unfortunate connotations.
In addition, you need to check the availability of your business and domain names. If you are in the UK, a quick way to do this is via the National Business Register.
Simply type in the name you are thinking of using and the National Business Register will tell you:
- If anyone is currently trading using that name and where they are based
- Which domain names are available or taken (that’s the phrasing you’ll use for your internet address)
- Whether a Limited Company is registered under this name
- Whether the name is protected by any trademarks
In short, it will help you decide if you can proceed, or whether you have to go back to the drawing board.
For example, you’re not allowed to use a name that is registered as a Limited Company.
In addition, if your preferred domain name is already taken, this may also influence your naming decision & especially if having an online presence is important to you. That said, you may decide to insert hyphens into the domain name to enable you to use it.
Read More: Online Business Systems
5. Remember to Stay legal
Unfortunately, you cant name your business anything that you like! There are restrictions and it’s preferable if your name is unique to avoid confusion between you and another business.
In addition, you should avoid offensive words and be aware that certain words are restricted. The list is quite long and includes words that imply particular professions, achievements, and levels of authority. If you wish to use one, you’ll need to get permission from the DTI (Department of Trade & Industry).
If you are running a Limited Company you will need to register with Companies House. If you are a sole trader there is no similar requirement, however, you can register your name with the National Business Register for an annual fee which does offer your name some protection. You may also decide that it’s appropriate to trademark your name. If in doubt, seek independent advice from your solicitor.
In short, the message is always to do your research before finalizing your name choice as it will save you a lot of hassle in the long run.
So, what will your new business be called?
Although it’s a serious start-up task, the act of naming your business is fun and very exciting. That moment when you finally choose, you’re creating something new, unique and that represents your new future as a business owner and your own boss.
Once you’ve decided mull it over for a little while to check you’re happy, but also bear in mind that you don’t want to lose out on an available domain name. With the number of new start-ups springing up all over the world, a good name can be quickly taken.