“A rose by any other name is just as sweet,” wrote William Shakespeare. However, this isn’t true when it comes to naming your business. Your brand name is a small yet very significant part of your business. After all, it is the first thing that customers use to identify your business.
Consider this: Would Google be the success it is if it was named BackRub? That was its original name! Would you eat at a restaurant named Passmore Gas? What about looking for tech support from a company known as AnalTech?
You get it now? Names are quite powerful.
A bad choice in business name can be off-putting to target customers, which ultimately leads to loss of potential revenue. Getting the name right and you will have a smooth time with branding your business, creating brand awareness, and attracting your target customers.
With that in mind, here are some tips to help you find a great business moniker:
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1. Be Specific and Meaningful
Do you want a business name that is bound to last? Opt for something that has meaning and conveys benefit to your target customers. Ideally, your customers should know what you are selling from your business name.
For instance, a name such as Dunkin Donuts tells the audience that the brand is all about baked goods and perhaps some coffee. Another great example is Shopify, an eCommerce platform that allows anyone to set up an online store and sell their products.
Avoid general or boring names that aren’t easy to remember. For instance, a name such as Nairobi Painting Service is not only boring, but it is also hard to remember and doesn’t differentiate the business from others that provide similar service in the area.
2. Don’t Use Your Own Name
This shouldn’t have to be said, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t see the pitfalls in using their names as business monikers. Unless you have a truly unique name that means something to your target customers, or are building the business brand from your celebrity status, it is generally a good idea to avoid branding your business with your own name.
If you name your business after yourself, it will be difficult for people to differentiate your personal reputation from the business one. This might present problems if either you or the company is accused of wrong-doing. It might also make it harder to find a buyer in case you want to sell the business.
Additionally, giving your business your name makes you indispensable – which can become a problem as your business continues to grow. Think about personal trainers, photographers, make-up artists and real estate agents who have set up their businesses using their own names.
Their clients expect to get the founder to provide the service they’ve paid for. This limits the growth of the company since the founder can’t be everywhere at the same time. If your goal is to have a business that can function without you, it is best to choose a name that isn’t your own.
3. Think about Domains
In the digital age, you must also ensure that your business name is internet-friendly. Once you have narrowed down the list of potential business names, it is time to search online. The first thing is to make sure that your business name isn’t already taken by a competitor.
You also want to check the availability of related domains. A domain name can have significant impact on your online visibility and influence your marketing efforts. However, that doesn’t mean you should abandon a good name for your business just because the exact domain name isn’t available.
Consider buying the domain from its owner if they’re willing to sell. This can be expensive but getting a simple, memorable domain name is worth it in the long run. Alternatively, you can add modifiers to your domain to make it unique. For example, if your business name is Toy Story and you find that toystory.com isn’t available, you can opt for something like Toystorykenya.com.
Another option is going for a different domain extension. Although .com is the most popular domain extension, there are other great options to consider such as .net, .org, .co.ke and so one. Depending on the nature of your business, going for alternative extensions can prove to be a great choice. For example, the blogging platform Postachio chose to have postach.io as their domain name – which is a creative fit for their business.
4. Don’t Be a Copycat
You might be tempted to choose a name that is similar to your competitors. If your businesses are very similar, you might coincidentally have similar ideas when it comes to naming. While a similar name might help you get some of their customers, especially if they’re bigger and more established, this strategy is bound to backfire in the long run.
A similar name will make you look like a cheap copycat, which isn’t good for your brand image. Your customers are also likely to confuse your business with the competitor’s, making customer retention more difficult.
5. Say It Loud
With a final list of two or three names, practice saying them out loud. You will be saying your business name many times throughout the day – so make it something easy and pleasant to say. If you have a complex business name it is likely that you will be stumbling over it.
A name that is hard to pronounce will also have negative ramifications for your marketing. If you, the founder, finds the name difficult or annoying to say, others will find it even more so. This alone might put them off from doing business with you.