One of the most iconic lines from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet goes, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” This line basically puts forth the idea that what something is named is less important than what that thing actually is. In other words, you could call a rose anything and it would still smell nice.
In the business world, though, name matters. As much as we’d like to think the business itself is more important than its title, potential customers do factor this in when deciding whether or not to patronize a certain company. The name of a business is inextricably linked with its brand — and a fitting name will bolster that brand, making it both memorable and self-explanatory in the mind of the customer.
Here are a few tips for entrepreneurs aiming to choose an effective business name.
Make Sure Your Business Name Is Original
They say great minds think alike. This means even the most seemingly original business name idea may have been done already. Thankfully, some internet sleuthing can save you from the trouble of accidentally treading on another company’s toes when choosing your name.
Not only is it important to avoid infringing upon another organization’s intellectual property, but you will avoid obscuring your internet search results — something that can confuse customers and drive traffic away from your website.
As one expert writes for Forbes, one strong sign of an original business name is being able to nab the “.com” domain name for said company rather than having to default to “.net” or another alternate ending because there are already other companies dominating the domain name.
This is not to say two companies somewhere in the world can’t have similar, or identical business names. It’s especially important to avoid nearby repetition, though, to differentiate your business enough to avoid a lawsuit by an existing one and to avoid getting a subpar website domain due to the popularity of the moniker.
Keep It Short, Simple and Descriptive
Generating business name ideas is definitely one of those activities in which keeping it short and sweet is your best bet. Above all, think about it from a potential customer’s point of view. Will they be able to read it, repeat it to others and spell it when conducting an internet search?
Start by conducting a free brainstorm — an open-minded session of saying and writing down potential names in which anything goes. Don’t worry much about editing here; the point is to merely get down all those ideas bouncing around your mind. Then it’s time to refine, weeding out any ideas that turn out to be confusing, difficult to pronounce or difficult to spell. Get some trusted friends or colleagues involved here so they can give you honest feedback about your potential names from an unbiased perspective.
As difficult as it is, avoid getting attached to any names that are too “cute” or rely on too much industry insider knowledge to understand what they mean. A complicated pun or jargon word may fly right over the head of the average customer. Remember, this business name isn’t for you — it’s for the rest of the world.
Try to Capture Your Company’s Brand in Its Name
Every company has, or at least should have, a unique selling proposition that answers the question, “What sets this company apart from its competition?” This is why so many similar businesses can exist and thrive.
For instance, say a mid-size city has four bakeries. How can this level of competition be sustainable? Well, one bakery may specialize in wedding cakes made to order. Another may have a combination café/bakery, meaning they serve pastries meant to accompany coffee and tea for sit-in dining. Another may dominate when it comes to donuts, while another establishment offers specialized products from around the world — like French macarons, Greek baklavas or Swedish semlor.
Though these businesses are all technically operating in the same sector, their offerings are diverse enough to leave room for all to exist. Their names likely then reflect their specialties, calling out not just the bakery aspect but their specific niche. Customers can deduce the difference at a glance between a place called “Sit & Stay Café/Bakery” versus “Donna’s Donuts.” Hence, the brand name is evident right in the title.
Choosing an effective business name is both an art and a science — one worth getting right from the get-go.