It’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll make when building your business: the company name. The name of a small business is the first piece of information a prospective customer will have about the business. Naming your company should not be left up to the flip of a coin or an idea that comes after a beer brainstorm session.
Too often names are selected because they sound cool or because the owner has an affinity to it. Unfortunately your affinity or something you think sounds cool might not resonate with your target audience. And, if you can’t resonate with your target audience through your name, it will take a lot of storytelling to explain who you are and why someone should do business with your company.
To help you keep those cocktail-induced brilliant name ideas at bay, here are 5 considerations for naming your company to create the best and most reflective stamp for your business.
Determine your target audience ahead of naming your company
This seems like a complicated step ahead of deciding your company name, I know. However, the more you can build an understanding of who you want to target with your brilliant company idea, the easier it will be to create a fitting company name.
As mentioned above, your audience should be a critical factor (almost the deciding factor) in your naming decision. It’s important to think about how they speak. Is it casual, conversational, relatable? Or is there an opportunity to get creative or techie with it? It’s great to be unique with your name, but if it alienates who you’re trying to speak to, your future success will be hindered.
Is the company name trademarked already?
You might think you’ve thought of an amazing name until you do a trademark search and discover just how many others have already thought of it and, oh yes, they’ve trademarked it. Now, if the name you choose is trademarked, it is not the end of the world.
Through a trademark search and a little bit of googling, you should be able to see what industry the company with the same name is in. If the industry is different enough, you can move forward with naming your company that. If the industry is similar, you’re going to want to go back to the drawing board.
Is your company name easy to pronounce?
From experience, there’s nothing more frustrating than loving your company name and constantly hearing it pronounced incorrectly. Combining words together or going with a unique spelling can be a disaster when trying to grow your brand beyond your living room. Whether it’s short or long, the easier you can make it on your target audience the better.
A good way to test a more creative idea for a company name is to send the word (or words) to your family and friends and ask them to say it out loud. If they nail it in the first try, you’ve got a winner. If there is some fumbling and guessing involved with quite a few, reassess the spelling. Sometimes simpler truly is better.
What’s the story behind naming your company?
A great company name should be able to morph into a tagline, and eventually your value proposition. If your name is incorporated in the company name, you should be able to talk about family values and why that is important to your business. If it’s a single charismatic word, what is the action you hope to incite in your prospective customer? Your company name should convey the values of your business in a positive way.
@runviably Before you fall in love with a #companyname you need to consider the #trademarks and the #domain to build your website. #smallbusinessmarketingadvice ♬ original sound – Viably
You’ll also want to consider how naming your company will scale and grow with your business. Will you have multiple products that need to connect through a name? Can the company name grow with you from one location to multiple locations? You want to position your company in a way that scales with a name because rebranding is a hard mountain to climb.
Check for a website domain and social channels
If you ignore all of my other advice, please do this one thing! Our world is built on a digital infrastructure. If you aren’t operating with a website, my guess is you have a business facebook page. It’s rare to find a business non-existent across digital platforms these days. A website might be one of your first steps in creating your business, but there’s no heartbreak quite like not being able to get the dot com you wanted (or finding the domain at an astronomical price).
Why is this important? Search engines. From Google to Facebook to TikTok, your audience is searching for your business name. If you have to add words, characters, or random spaces that are not in your standard name, you run the risk of customers missing you on the channel they prefer to use. It’s also important that if you do have to make some additions to your company name in your domain or social profiles, make it consistent. If your handle is the same across all channels, it’s super easy to grow your business following as people jump from channel to channel.
Naming your company name is a big decision. Keep in mind that a name you don’t love initially could have some sticking power with your audience. Or, vice versa, something you love has zero impact on the customer you hope to dazzle. Keep an open mind in your company name search, there are no bad ideas (okay, there may be a few). All it takes is one name, word, phrase to get you off and running.