When you’re setting up a new business, probably the most important step you’ll take is choosing a name for it. Changing a company name once you have developed a logo, had stationery and marketing material printed and registered domain names and social handles is far more trouble than it’s worth, so it pays to get it right from the start.
If you are in the throes of setting up a business and not quite sure where to start in deciding on a name, the following tips may be useful.
1. Make it Memorable
Something that sticks in people’s minds will help your business do the same. Don’t forget that a lot of people will see a sign, shop front, advertisement or product and later search for it online. So the name really does have to be memorable. Think of something that creates interest or intrigue, sparks the imagination or induces some form of emotion. You could also try something that brings a visual scene to mind. ‘Bootea Shake’ is a brilliant example of a name that does just that and the clever combination of what the product actually is (a shake) and what it does (helps you lose weight) is a real winner.
2. Make it Relevant
Abstract concept names may sound cool and have some sort of meaning to you and any other co-founders of your business, but are they really going to mean anything to customers? A business name should ideally describe what you do and if possible, the benefits of what you offer. But keep in mind what we discussed in point 1: try and spark some sort of visual effect or emotion with it. ‘SimplyHired’ is a great name for a recruitment agency: it instantly brings to mind the feeling of landing a job, with the whole process being nice and easy.
3. See how it Looks
Some company names sound great verbally, but when they’re written down or made into a logo, they just don’t work. Names that are particularly long or made up of several words can often be tricky to incorporate into logos or onto letterheads, and some can look disastrous as domain names. Try sketching out potential names with some sort of logo and write them down as a ‘www.’ to see how they look. Do this before getting design agencies involved, as time is money and you wouldn’t want to waste it on having a logo or company stationery designed around a name that just doesn’t work in practice.
4. See how it Sounds
Whilst much of today’s communication is done in writing, it’s still important that your company name actually sounds good when spoken. At some point you will find yourself networking or having discussions with business contacts and you will be telling them the name of your company verbally, so make sure you choose something that is easy to say – and remember. You certainly don’t want one of those names that when you say it, people reply, ‘sorry – what?’! Or one that people are unsure of how to pronounce or spell, like ‘Qustodian’, ‘Unboxd’ or ‘nwplying’. All of these are real business names – they may look ‘cool’, but try saying them!
5. Make Sure it’s Available
As soon as a potential name comes to mind, check its availability as a domain name and social handle. Do this immediately, before the name starts to grow on you. There’s absolutely no point settling on a business name that you can’t use for your website or social platforms. And if you think using one of the growing number of ambiguous domain extensions, such as .company, .expert or .agency for example, is going to allow you to work around it, think again. If you want your business to look professional and be taken seriously by as wide an audience as possible, there’s no substitute for .co.uk or .com.
You’ll also need to check that the name isn’t already taken, which you can do with an internet search or a look on Companies House.
If you are finding it a challenge to come up with a company name, why not enlist the help of your bookkeepers to assist with inspiration and an outside opinion? In the meantime, we hope you’ve found these tips useful – and good luck with your new business!