So, you’ve taken the plunge and decided to go into business? You’ve got great ideas, started to put the plans together and possibly even spotted a premises you’d like to trade from. But have you thought about the business name, really thought about it?
Registering your business, be it as a sole trader, partnership or limited company is a standard process once you’ve chosen the right name but often people don’t give sufficient thought to what they’re going to trade as. Even if your intention is to operate only as local business, if you pay due consideration to the many factors that can impact on a business name at this stage, you are leaving yourself available to opportunities at a later date.
Here’s a guide to 20 factors you should take into account when choosing your business name;
- List your choice of names and possible alternatives – talk to family/friends/associates and ask for feedback.
- Does the business name describe what you do or is there room for ambiguity?
- If you wanted to expand at a later date, does the name lend itself to this?
- Is it snappy or memorable – short is best, but if you really need a long business name ensure it’s one that your potential customers can’t easily forget.
- If your choice is for a personal name research thoroughly – unusual names can cause confusion whereas popular names can be overused so you may find yourself competing for visibility even amongst businesses who are not in the same industry. The exception to using personal names is where you’ve developed a reputation in your field – if you’ve already begun the process of developing your brand, work with it.
- Be wary of double consonants or double vowels, particularly when one word ends with the same letter as the next commences – people regularly miss one of these letters when online.
- Be wary of geography – including your region in the business name will be restrictive and can create difficulties when growing your business. This would particularly apply if you opt for a town or region within a country as you are potentially excluding anybody outside of your immediate catchment area by name alone.
- Translate the business name into any languages that are likely to apply in regions you will be trading in – many international brands have been caught out when the name either cannot be pronounced, or worse has a meaning in another tongue that is totally different or even offensive!
- Check if the business name is available – also check similar names and alternate spellings of any of the words used.
- Take advice on intellectual property – finding a readily available name that sounds similar to a major brand might well seem clever but could cost you dearly if there’s a copyright or trademark you hadn’t considered. And it’s your responsibility to check!
- Google it – even if the name is available locally in your region, it may be used in your area by a company trading from overseas so you’ll be fighting for visibility from the start.
- Use the google keyword tool to see what people are actually looking at in your niche – this may also pinpoint any weaknesses in your choice of name such as common spelling errors.
- Is the domain available – check further that the local options, especially if your business lends itself to expansion into overseas markets and consider purchasing them even if they don’t feature in the initial plans.
- As you’re securing the domain, consider the likely social media platforms you may use – is your name available there? If it is, secure those names also.
- If you can include a popular keyword in the business name and domain, this will impact positively on your visibility in search engines.
- If your choice of name includes a word such as “and”, opt for the word as opposed to the “&” symbol when purchasing a domain.
- Count the characters – Google Adwords permits 25 characters so a business name longer than this means having to abbreviate the name if you advertise there. Even if you don’t plan to advertise here initially, allow for it as it tends to be one of the most cost effective ways of advertising.
- Start looking at logos – avail of the many free software options on the web and see how your business name and logo might look in both a horizontal and square setting as many online platforms accept only a square version of a business logo. Your logo should be unique so imitating an established brands logo should be avoided at all costs. Remember, you don’t have to opt for a symbol either, monograms are very popular and look good too.
- Practice saying the name out loud and on the phone – you’re going to use this name a lot, ensure it’s not long-winded and that you don’t start to abbreviate it from the get-go.
- Consider your personal brand – you will be the face of the brand, particularly at the start-up stage so it must fit whether you’ve opted for a quirky, creative or professional business name.
Once you’re trading your business will evolve and areas such as your branding will evolve over time, but updating a logo is a lot less tricky than updating a name so regardless of your industry and whether you’re trading offline, online or in multiple markets, if you take the time to come up with the right business name to start with you’ll reap the dividends over the years.
Image: “Rainbow colors. Choice of casual clothes on wooden hangers/Shutterstock“