Tips for Naming Your Business

Name Your Business With as Much Thought as You Would Name a Child

1949 Chrysler Windsor at Blue Swallow Motel on Route 66 in Tucumcari, New Mexico
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1. Think About What You Want Your Business Name to Convey: Your company name is a critical part of your overall identity and should reflect something important about who you are or what you do. It will be on your letterhead, your promotional materials, and website - anywhere your name appears in print.

Some businesses may do better to project a small, "hometown" or "mom and pop" feel, but others will do better with a larger, more corporate image.

Service-oriented businesses often benefit by choosing a name that includes or describes what the business does.

Example: "Bright Electricians," "Friendly Pet Sitters," and "Caribbean Caterers," are names that tell the consumer something about the business. "Bright Ideas," Pet Lovers," and Caribbean Feasts" are vague names that offer little information about what the business does.

2. Think About Advertising Potential: When consumers are looking for a product or service (particularly online) your name may be what draws them into your website instead of another's. When choosing a business name think about who you are marketing to not just what you are selling.

Example: If you were looking for someone to restore a family heirloom would you be more likely to choose "Freida's Heirloom Restorations" or "Value Heirloom Repairs?" And, if you wanted to donate clothing locally would you choose "The Children's Clothing Charity of Northern Virginia" or "Kids Who Need Clothes?"

3. Choose a Name that Consumers Can Remember: The more obscure your business name is the harder it will be to remember. Since word-of-mouth advertising is still how many businesses get new customers using a name that is difficult to remember, pronounce, or spell isn't good for marketing purposes. This is particularly true for Internet-based businesses and companies that rely on a website for sales.

4. Being Too Creative Can Hurt Your Business: While it may seem creative to misspell words it does not always work to your advantage. "Taste-tea Beverage Company" looks clever on paper but it still sounds like "tasty" when said aloud. Unless you have a business with a storefront where people can see your name creative spellings like this may confuse potential customers.

5. Think About Acronyms: It is advisable to look at the acronym of your business' name (an acronym is made up of the first letter of each word in a phrase). Even if you do not use an acronym you may find consumers will still refer to your business by the initials.

A poorly chosen business name (i.e., "Awesome Sewing Services") can result in unfavorable acronym recognition but a clever name can lead to an acronym consumers remember easily (i.e., most people refer to American Telephone and Telegraph, Inc. simply as AT&T).

6. Do Not Trade On Existing Business Names: Using parts of other well-known business names and trying to appear that you are somehow connected to another company will not help you gain the trust of consumers. In fact, it may even get you into legal trouble.

7. Forget "AAA" Anything: Before the Internet consumers turned to paper telephone directories to find information. Many business owners began their company's name with "AAA" to be one of the first listings in a telephone directory category.

Today's consumers are more likely to use the Internet to find a product or service and using three A's at the beginning of your name will not help. Search queries are not returned alphabetically but by relevance and how well your website, blog, or listing has been indexed.

Tip: To get your business to show up in a search engine query you need to use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques when building your website or blog.

8. Think Long-Term Growth: If you plan to expand your business in the future choose a name that will not limit your growth. For example, someday you plan to open a full-scale landscaping business but you start small by offering basic lawn care services to make contacts. The name "Linda's Lawn Mowing Service" only reflects start-up services and won't make sense when the business expands.

Your business' name is usually the first thing consumers will know about you. Any name you choose will make a first impression so choose wisely and make it a good one.