When it comes to small business success, a name means everything. And coming up
with the right name for your business is one of the most important decisions you’ll
With your future on the line, plan on putting in just as much time and effort
into creating a winning business name as you did when developing your business
plan or choosing your target market. The right name will help to pique curiosity,
attract your ideal customers and form an immediate emotional connection, while
the wrong one can leave you and your business faltering.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic recipe for picking a winning business
name. But following the six hints below will definitely point you in the right
- Keep it short Although there are always exceptions, the majority of great business
names tend to be short, to the point and catchy. Think: Nike, Apple, Coke,
PayPal and Google, for example. Longer names are usually difficult to say
and harder to handle in radio ads, on logos and signage.If you do decide to go with a longer length (like I did for Richer. Smarter.
Happier.), make sure its shortened version, which might be required for its
web domain, is acceptable. (In my case, I use the shorter @richerhappier.com
for email addresses.)
Also, keep in mind that people would much rather say, “I’m going
to call USAA to update my insurance policy,” than “I need to call
the United Services Automobile Association.” But be careful because
even if you don’t intend for your name to be shortened, the public will
often do it for you. And not all abbreviations will work. (”I’m
going to the FBI,” has a whole different meaning than grabbing a bite
to eat at Frank’s Breakfast Inn. )
- Make it easy to spell, pronounce and remember Put simply, if they can’t easily pronounce your biz name, your
customers will avoid saying it! And as a small business owner, you can’t
afford to miss out on free word-of-mouth advertising.This is a lesson I’ve learned from experience.
When I started my marketing and communications firm, I named it Bon Mot Communications
LLC (and also the parent company of Richer. Smarter. Happier.) I thought I
was being clever. In French, “bon” means “good” and
“mot” means “word.” And a “bon mot” is
a witty expression. Since I’m part French, I thought it would be fun
to use a French name that also has a communications / marketing angle to it.
The problem? For starters, virtually no one knows how to pronounce it or spell
it. And trying to spell out my URL and email address over the phone…
(B, as in boy. O, as in Oscar. N, as in Nancy. M, as in Mary. No. No. “Mmmmm”
as in MARY…) is a complete nightmare!
So, please. Make sure the name sits well on your tongue and sounds good to
your ear. And then test it out with others. They should be able to easily
spell and correctly pronounce the name the first time they hear or see it.
- Remember the meaning Before you start thinking of a business name, define the qualities
you want your business to be identified with, such as, strong, dependable
or affordable. Also think about WHAT you do. The more meaning you put into
your business name up front, the less time you’ll spend explaining what
you do or the value you provide.For instance, names like Joe’s Plumbing, Carol’s Interior Design
and Smith & Weston Architecture immediately communicate the type of service
each of these businesses provide – even to a casual passerby. And when
you stop to think about it, many of us end up calling companies are walking
into stores simply because the name of the business clearly indicated that
they have what we’re looking for.
- Create a positive visual and emotional connection Generally speaking, when we hear or read something, our brains transmit
this into an image. For example, what picture pops into your mind when you
read “Bridal Boutique” versus “Dress Barn”? Based
on your newly formed mental picture, where would you rather shop? Besides
the visual, we also form an emotional connection, either good or bad. So when
we see an ad about a day spa with words like “Retreat ” or “Relaxation,”
we not only form a visual but also a connection of peace and tranquility.
- Make it unique Keeping in mind hints one through four above, it’s also important
to make your business name unique. Ensure other companies aren’t already
using something similar. It might be the difference of a word like having
“apparel” instead of “clothing” at the end of a business
name or simply having an “s” at the end of the title like, “Sparkle
LLC” versus “Sparkles LLC” that makes the difference between
two companies. Do your research. There are plenty free online services that
allow you to check whether or not a business name is taken. Also test out your top choices of names on your friends and family.
They might surprise you and come up with a connotation that is completely
different than what you intended.
- Make sure you can get the website address Before you decide on your award-winning business name and concern
yourself with the details, make sure you can transfer your name into a website
address as early as possible. Your domain name needs to match your business
name as closely as possible, giving your potential and current customers one
less thing they have to remember. But what if you can get the domain name you want, only without the
.com extension? Is it better to get the name and choose another extension
such as, “.net” or “.biz”? Different experts say different
things. My advice is to have a .com address as your primary URL, but to buy
as many of the closely matched other domains as possible – and have
them all point to your website.
If you do choose an alternative, make sure that you advertise your business
with the full domain name, otherwise people will assume a “.com”
extension and travel to the wrong place or worse yet, to your competitor’s
At the end of the day, one of the most important factors is whether or not
your ideal, targeted customers or clients will like and resonate with your business
name. It’s even more important than if you like it. So be sure to do your
research, test out your choices and choose something that will help you grow
Note: If you’re in the early stages of your business, it’s so
important to build a strong foundation the right way. You can learn exactly
how to create that foundation in my 7-week online course, “Brilliant
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In addition to helping you get clear on your business focus, I’ll
also share my formula for knowing EXACTLY what your customers want and what
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If you liked today’s article, you’re welcome to use it in your own ezine or blog as long as you include the following blurb:
Known as The Corporate Agent, Angelique Rewers, ABC, APR, teaches micro business owners and solopreneurs around the world how to grow their small business by working with Big Business. Get her FREE CD and articles at www.TheCorporateAgent.com.