Business names

How to choose a good business name

Sometimes the name comes first.  Most of the time it’s the great business idea – followed by hours and hours of head scratching to come up with a killer name that does justice to it.  Here are some tips on how to choose a good business name:

1. Keep it conceptual

Conceptual names don’t describe what your business does.  They create a feeling or emotion for what your business is about.  Think: Apple, Google or Nike.  If you didn’t know what they did you wouldn’t be able to guess from the business name.  But a lot of work then needs to go into defining the brand.

2. Name it after yourself

Many businesses are named after the founder or a variation on the founder’s name.  For example, Amstrad is a contraction of Alan Michael Sugar Trading.  The Tesco name first appeared in 1924, after Jack Cohen purchased a shipment of tea from T E Stockwell.  They combined their names to make TESCO.

3. Think about the strapline

The name doesn’t need to describe the business. In fact, it’s best if it doesn’t. But a short strapline can tell your clients what the business is all about.  For example, Nike: “Just Do It” or BT: “It’s Good to Talk”.

4. Do a Google search

Someone may have come up with your clever business name already.  There’s no search like Google.  Check if someone is trading under your name already – particularly if they are already trading in your area of business or geographic location.

5. Carry out a domain name search

Is your business name still available as a domain name?  Increasingly, your most important shop front will be online.  You can search online for free at Nominet.

6. Can you spell that?

You will be repeating your business name on a daily basis.  If it is very long or difficult to spell you may find that you are spending your time repeating it and spelling it over the phone.  Choose something that won’t become the bane of your working life.

7. Avoid a descriptive name

Your business name might pass the “does what it says on the tin” test, but if it is too descriptive you will not be allowed to register it as a trademark. What is more, descriptive names are less memorable.  The feeling and emotive potential of ‘Colchester Accountancy Services’ or ‘Watford Financial Advisors’ is so much less than ‘Apple’, ‘Google’ or ‘Nike’.

Bonus tip: Ask your friends

If you are really stuck coming up with a cracking business name ask your friends to suggest names that sum up you and your business. You might be surprised with the angles that they suggest.  An independent approach is a good way to solve the problem.

Here are some tips on how to choose a good business name