Have you ever noticed that some business names just sound ‘right’ – names that just flow right off the tip of your tongue in an easy and positive way.
It’s no accident. Companies spend literally hundreds of thousands, and sometimes into millions of pounds, for the right business name. A name that sparks a positive energy and an urging sense to buy, each time it’s mentioned. Well I’m sure that’s the manager’s and marketing guru’s intentions.
Fortunately, you don’t need to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds, as we’ll go through the secrets of how to choose a successful business name for you, your brand and all on a modest shoestring budget.
You may just decide to call your company John Smith Ltd (if your name was John Smith of course, otherwise it’s just a bit odd) but it lacks something doesn’t it. It’s a bit boring and doesn’t anything about the business, brand or it’s values.
For a small business you don’t need to invest in think-tanks and countless hours of research, but there are essential things you need to consider when choosing your business name to avoid it being a branding disaster.
Is your business name easy to remember and spell
If your business is going to succeed it will rely on a combination of marketing, advertising, repeat customers – and of course, word of mouth.
Having customers supporting you and promoting you is the true success of a business. Your customers are everything. The problem is some business owners make this job so much harder for their fans.
Some use business names that are easy to forget (or not easy to remember, whichever way you want to look at it). Have you ever tried to tell a friend about a business you’ve tried but struggle to remember the name, as it never really stood out – happens more often than you think.
For example; take these two proposed names for a florist, or online flower delivery service:
- Alice Dubois Flowers and Gifts Ltd
- Blooming Marvellous
Your name may be Alice Dubois, and you like the idea of having your name as part of your business name (it is your business after all!) but it’s memorable to you of course, but not so much for others. Plus, Dubois may be a misspelt.
On the other hand, Blooming Marvellous is a little more creative and will stand out. It’s easy to remember and share with friends and family who may be looking to buy flowers.
People also share so much on text messages or social media apps like WhatsApp, Facebook and other platforms. If they share your business name, but you’ve made it really tricky to spell, again this could mean potential customers can’t find you, and may then look towards your customers.
From the very outset you should consider whether your proposed business name is easy to remember, that it is indeed memorable and quite easy to spell
Does your business name pass the all-important ‘Radio Test’
If you’re unsure what the ‘radio test’ is, it’s a phrase used to ask if your business name was read out on the radio, would people remember the name and be able to find you.
Using the florist name for example, by the time the radio presenter reached ‘…..and gifts’ the audience would already be lost and have already switched off.
Blooming Marvellous is short, snappy, quirky – easy to remember and easy to share!
As well as looking at your preferred business name on paper, say it to yourself out loud. Also get others to say it to you, in person and over the phone.
Does it meet all the criteria, and be brutally honest – even if you really like the name.
Is your preferred business name available as a website address and as a co.uk
You may have reached a decision about your business name, but it’s really important before you launch or have marketing or distribution material printed, as to whether your business name is available as a domain name (also know as a website address – for example www.google.co.uk ).
You may not be opting to have a website just yet, but if you may do in the future then buying your domain name now is a very important purchase, plus it’s relatively inexpensive,
To check to see whether your domain name is available you can try and search for your business name on a domain name registrar such as tsoHost.
Follow the ‘Domain Names’ option and type in your business name (do not add any spaces, it needs to be all one word).
Here is an example of our search for Blooming Marvellous (typed as bloomingmarvellous – remember, no spaces!):
As you can see, it’s not available as a .co.uk domain name.
Although there are many extensions available (such as .com, .uk, .co.uk, .org.uk, .co, .live etc…) the .co.uk extension is really the only extension you should be looking to purchase.
Domain name registrars will be keen to recommend other extensions, but these extensions are not well known or easy to remember. The .com is the only other extension that could be used, but as .com is mainly used internationally it should only be used as a second option IF the .co.uk is unavailable and you simply must use this business name.
If the domain name you are looking for isn’t available, try visiting the website to see if the domain name is in use. If it isn’t it may be for sale, and within your budget.
If the price is a little too high for you, and you have the option of putting in a ‘make offer’ bid try entering a low one. You never know, if the owner has held for some time without an offers, they could be tempted to sell for a very low price.
You can keep searching until you find a domain name that’s appropriate. Try though not to add hyphens and end up with something like ‘blooming-marvellous-uk.co.uk’ just to get the name. Not only does it look awful, but so difficult for your customers to share or find you.
Keep it simple and keep it snappy!
Does your business name suggest something positive or negative
Although this is a little speculative by nature, take a look at your business name from a third parties perspective. When you read it (in your mind and out loud) does it sound ‘positive’ or does it sound ‘negative’.
It’s sometimes to put a business name on either category, and some will sit slap bang in the middle. If it sounds neither positive or negative, this is fine.
If though is has a negative sound or ring to it, it may be good to look again. For example an American taco fast food restaurant has the name ‘Dumass Taco’.
Perhaps very innocent in creation, and I think here Dumass is the surname of the owner but read this fast and I’m sure you’ll read what I did!
It’s reported that 72% of first-time purchasers base their final decision whether to buy from a company with the business name as a consideration.
Therefore it’s key to make sure your name sounds positive, or at the very least, isn’t negative!
Does your preferred business name infringe on copyright or trademarks
If you feel you have the perfect name for your business, chances are someone may have already come up with the same idea – great minds think alike ?
You need to do your research now before you launch your business. It could be very costly at a later stage to change your business name if a claim or lawsuit was filed against you.
You need to search company house records, limited company name records and also online searches can help you discover whether the business name you wish to use is being used.
If not then you’re free to use and register.
Recommended online tools to find business name inspiration and ideas
If you’re at this stage and still struggling for inspiration there are a few websites and tools below to give you some much needed inspiration.
Just to note – the options these websites provide are random name generators, they have not undergone background checks to see whether the business name is free to use, has no copyright infringement and is available .co.uk domain – if you see something you like, you need to carry out your research just like you would if you thought of the name yourself.
It’s easy to think a business name is just something conjured up one afternoon during lunch, and instantly used. Your business name is at the foundation of your business. It represents who you are.
Spend an afternoon, a day or longer to research the perfect name for your business. Follow through the checklists in this post and make sure your new name meets everyone.
Hopefully you come up with three or four suggestions or narrow down to three or four from a longer list, and once you have it’s useful to find friends and family who can provide opinions. If you have any access to potential customers, asking them is as much or even more useful.