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The Smart Guide To Naming Your Business

Setting up a start-up business? One of the trickiest things people fail to mention is figuring out what to name it. It seems to get completely glossed over when you read up on business planning and getting started, so we’ve put together a smart guide to registering a company name having gone through this ourselves.

First up, let’s focus on the key things to consider when naming your business.

Be memorable
You want your business name to stick in people’s minds. This could be because of it being unusual, or a play on words, or related to something they find easy to associate with (e.g a location).

Be pronounceable
If people struggle to pronounce your business name (or frequently say it wrong) you’re setting yourself up for issues. I’ve seen many a ‘clever’ business name fall flat because it’s hard to pronounce and therefore hard to remember. Make sure your name is easy to write and say.

Avoid words that have various pronunciations or meanings
Whilst we’re on the note of pronunciations- if you use any words or names that have multiple meanings or pronunciations, you’re at risk of confusing people. Clarity trumps cleverness here, so keep it simple.

Be location or trade-specific (only if it makes sense)
If you service a particular area (e.g. A region like Surrey or a town like Guildford) then it may be sensible to use the location in your business name so people know whether you service their area. Or, if you have a particular trade, including that in your business name. (E.g my business name is Jen Smith Social Media – people are very clear about what I do from the name). One small caveat with this consideration – only do it if it makes sense and won’t restrict you by area or offering down the line.

Choose either abstract or obvious
The final consideration is whether your business name is going to be abstract like Apple (the business has nothing to do with fruit) or obvious (like South London Builders). A blend of the two rarely works well, so whichever you decide to go with, make sure you commit.

On the naming of Apple, Steve Jobs said he was “on one of my fruitarian diets.” He said he had just come back from an apple farm, and thought the name sounded “fun, spirited and not intimidating.”

Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs biographer

Key Steps to Naming Your Business:

1. Brainstorm as many ideas as you can possibly think of on a large piece of paper. Set a timer for 30-60 minutes and just write anything down no matter how daft or good you think it is. The idea here is to get a lot down, not censor your ideas.

2. Cross out any ideas that don’t meet the considerations above; you don’t think are any good or you don’t like. Try and whittle it down to 3-5 ideas at most.

3. Check if the domain name (website address) and social media names are available for your final 3-5 chosen names. In this day and age, it’s good to have a consistent presence online and a strong website address and social media URLs are important.

4. Test the shortlist with focus groups and people who you think might buy your products or services. You can test with friends but do be aware that they may be biased, unlikely to be brutally honest and may not be your ideal customers.

5. If you’re still stuck with more than one idea, then mock up the logo and any associated graphics for each name. This can often help you lean more to one or the other.

6. Finally, go with your gut. Which one do you like best? Which one do you like saying best? (You’ll be saying it a lot when you introduce your business and answer the phone) Which one do you think you’ll like for the longest period of time?

Whichever business name you choose, be sure to check finally that it’s not being used by someone else. You can check Company House here in the UK for registered businesses, or do a search globally. You may also need to check that the name is not patented, or registered as a trademark before you register it yourself.

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