Naming your Business – a good place to start (and what to avoid…)!

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Starting a business with a name – is a very good place to start.  It’s not an easy task and there are some important considerations.  Here are 5 top boo-boo’s to avoid when naming your business.

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Although a great business name is no guarantee of success, a badly -chosen name can present challenges you could do without. So it’s something you’ll want to get right.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for generating the perfect business name, but these tips will help you to avoid the most common naming mistakes.

Think brand, not bland.  Bye-bye descriptive words

When you’re starting up, it’s tempting to go for a descriptive name. After all, it makes sense to have a name that describes what you do, doesn’t it?

‘The Curry Den’ just fades away against ‘Hot as Hell Indian Food’.

The trouble with this approach is that it results in names that are a combination of keywords, or generic words used by everyone else in your field. So by being descriptive you’ll be anonymous and easily forgotten… and you’ll be very hard, if not impossible hard to find online. Have you ever tried to find ‘John Smith LTD.’? (sorry John…) – but you get my point.

You’ll also miss out on the opportunity to convey some of the character and personality that makes your business different. It might be sensible and accurate, but it won’t give your business the head start that a memorable, engaging brand name can.

A very good customer of ours (he’s a very nice guy and won’t mind us telling this story), is a published author of cycling trails and routes and an absolute leader in all things bike / cycle / routes / equipment etc.  He rightfully decided to launch a cycle review site. He wanted to name it CCVelo.  Now if you are a cycle master and you are a French, you may be very familiar with the term. However, his target market includes the leisure cyclist. Quite frankly CCVelo, means very little to anyone outside of professional cycling. It’s also a difficult word to remember, (unless you are French speaking) and it doesn’t resonate with a review site. Being a great customer, he took the advice and went with something more appropriate, and now content managers his site himself. Check out Cycle Reviewer here.

Keep it future-proof. Today’s trend is so tired tomorrow…yawn

Your business will hopefully grow and change a lot during its lifetime. When it’s successful, it might move premises or add locations. You might even acquire senior business partners or buy out competitors. Your product range and services will probably change and change again.

A geographical-specific name, or your own surname, could prove inconvenient. A local builder who started his business at home, named it after the street he was living in.  When he outgrew his home office and moved to another street, it left many people scratching their heads. Your name is a crucial part of your brand, so it should be future-proof and remain consistent and relevant as your brand grows and develops.

Be yourself. Be Brave.

Following fashions and trends is great when it comes to your personal image, let’s face it, a beehive and white patent leather boots would get you all the wrong sort of attention, but when it comes to naming your business, current fashions are best avoided.

Game-changing businesses deservedly get a lot of exposure in the press and online, and their sometimes odd or quirky names soon become comfortably familiar. Google, Fat Face, Gotcha, Virgin, Bing, BigMouth…to name a few.

Unfortunately, the desire to replicate their success leads to copycat business names that start with a lowercase i, remove a few letters from a common word, or end in –ify, or -ly.

But this brand mimicry simply comes across as lazy and indicates a distinct lack of imagination. It does nothing to make your business distinctive or memorable or unique. Your name should be yours, not a version of somebody else’s. Like you.

Avoid the classics. Be a little daring, darling.

Sounding and looking credible – while steering clear of fashionable gimmicks – you might start to consider reassuring, business-like names. Keep in mind these keywords:

Credible

Familiar

Timeless

Great examples of these are Lipton, Sony, Old Mutual and Neptune, or Marriott and General Electric. Names like this never go out of fashion!

Unfortunately, familiarity is really all they offer. They don’t make for good brand names – because they’re too ubiquitous, they’ll never be “yours”.

Going for a classic may be a safe choice, but it’s not a wise one.

Don’t be too weird: that’s just too much!

In an ideal world, every start-up would have a totally unique name with a nice, short .com address. But it’s not. There are still people who combine their names when naming their children. I’munique, Kaizyle and Hellzel (who was named after mum Hazel and dad, a biker). Let’s not get distracted…

The trouble is, this objective can lead to choosing a business name just because the .com domain is available. This can result in some very weird names indeed – names that squash two random words together or combine letters in barely-pronounceable groups, like GingerWardrobe or Zwigld.

This approach could work if your business is ground-breaking and your customers are open-minded. There is a very fine line between branding genius and gibberish. Be warned.

A great .com domain can be a real advantage, but if you take a “domain-first” approach you still need to end up with a name that’s easy to spell and pronounce …and that’s appropriate for your target market.

If you need help, not only with a name, but to turn that into a strong logo and brand, email and say hello.