Giving a name to your business may seem like a simple step, but you need to give it some serious thought. Your business's name should motivate or steer your target consumer to your business by branding your product or service. What do you want the name to communicate? Who are your customers and what problems will you solve for them. If your business is incorporated, your business name may continue well on into the future. The business name can make or break your advertising and promotion. A good business name should:
- Be addressed to the intended class of consumers.
- Motivate the consumer to choose your company’s products or services.
- Represent the branding you are trying to achieve for your company.
- Be distinctive. You want the name to distinguish you in the marketplace.
The easiest way to name your business is to name it after yourself: For example John Smith's Bakery. But, there are disadvantages to this as well:
- It may reduce the value of your business if you decide to sell.
- You may be bothered at home if people know your name.
- Should the business have problems, your personal reputation may suffer.
Although naming the business after yourself may be self-fulfilling, it doesn't meet the criteria outlined above. For example, John Smith’s Bakery doesn't address a certain class of consumers or motivate them to choose this bakery over a competitor.
Avoid these mistakes when choosing a name:
Avoid a name which is too specific if you intend to evolve and grow over time. If you plan on remaining in a focused niche, granted you can be very specific. But, what if you later decide to add new products for services? For example: ABC Cheese Company works just fine - until you later discover it would be profitable to sell wine and fruit too. Keep the name simple to say and spell, otherwise people can't remember it.
Consider the following procedure for naming your business:
Step 1. Define what market you are going to be in, and what product or service you are going to offer. Start by answering the following questions:
- What geographical area will you be operating in?
- Who is the buyer? A consumer or commercial buyer? What is their age? Lifestyle? Other distinctions?
- What features does your product or service have? Is it fast, clean, environmentally friendly?
- What makes your product or service superior over your competitor? Or what niche do you satisfy?
- What advantage does your product or service offer that your competitors’ does not?
Now, consider the answers to these questions and determine what the message is that you want to convey with your name branding. Make this answer as long as you wish, condensing this will come later.
Step 2. Break down the complex answers from Step 1 to a manageable level. Determine what is the ONE simple theme or image that you wish to convey (this may become your "tagline"). Reduce the simple theme or image to only a few words or phases. As you do this, review your definition of the market you are trying to reach.Finally, make a list of potential names based on your words or phases and choose the best one.
Consider registering the name as a trademark or servicemark. It's costly, but may be worth the trouble. So, consult an attorney who has experience in this area.