What’s in a Name?

In a recent Business Plan Development Workshop I admitted to participants that in all the instances where I’d envisioned a business concept (I’ve had three business ventures), the first thing I invariably did was choose the name. The way my brain worked, I needed the concept to take shape around a word, a phrase, a notion of my intentions; it was one of the preliminary steps that helped me shape the business image. Truth is, that’s not necessarily the best approach.

In hindsight, while I feel my business names hit the mark in terms of effectiveness and marketability, not all entrepreneurs have the same, positive experience. One of the most important aspects in birthing a business is name selection. The name you settle upon represents not only the image of your business. It needs to be clear, unique and meaningful to those you hope to attract—your customers.

Your business name should be able to stand the test of time. The closer it is to the ‘narrative’ of your business beginnings and future hopes and aspirations, the more readily you will be able to grow with the name. Does it accurately reflect who you are, what you’re doing and what you’re selling? Think in terms of consistency of brand, image, and purpose. Equally important, is to think long term.

Remember, first impressions count. Your company name often comes before you; consumers will first recognize your establishment before they’ll know you’re the owner. In addition, you should consider the branding, marketing and web implications for your business; it needs to work on the Internet for SEO marketing. The name should create a positive image and visual appeal; try to keep it brief. Ensuring clarity and meaning are critical to the effectiveness of your business name to spark interest in those with whom you wish to establish a relationship.

I recently came across 7 Tips for Naming Your Business* by Yanik Silver on Entrepreneur.com  While the full article is full of rich ideas and greater detail, this list is a great place to start if you’ve not yet settled on the moniker for your start-up:

  1. The name needs to sound good when it’s said aloud.
  2. Use a name that has meaning to it and conveys a benefit.
  3. Avoid Web 2.0-ish syndrome.
  4. Beware initials.
  5. Use specifics.
  6. Make sure you can trademark the name.
  7. Test it out on Google AdWords.

*The above-mentioned article is an excerpt from the book Maverick Startup: 11 X-Factors to Bootstrap From Zero to Six Figures and Beyond from Entrepreneur Press.

– Alanna Keefe