The Name Game

Feb 15th, 2013 by Acton

You’ve invested time and money in your entrepreneurial education, and you’re getting ready to start a business. Slowly your creating a list of to-dos and you realize, what will I call my business anyway? There are different schools of thought on the art of naming an entrepreneurial endeavor. If we had a dollar for every tech company with a brief abstract name that cleverly blends two seemingly unrelated nouns. Then there are those who feel that a business name should help describe the services offered, giving potential clients and customers valuable information up front. Should your business name reflect the spirit of your company? Absolutely. Is there one right way to do this? No. But here’s some food for thought:

Make It Clear

No matter what name you choose, it pays to have one goal in mind: make sure your business name communicates a clear message. As reinforced in the Entrepreneur.com article “How to Name Your Business,” a business name should not be too long or too confusing. In addition, it’s not particularly helpful if the name references a cute pun that only you “get.” In other words, make sure your business name is customer-friendly. If customers can’t recall it or understand it, they may just forget it.

It’s OK Not to Be Too Literal

As Mayra Jimenez’ November 2012 Inc. article reminds us, straightforward names such as charity:water can make a very big impact. But so can names that are catchy. Does it matter that Gizmodo isn’t a word that’s in the dictionary? Or that Piperlime has no literal meaning? Absolutely not. These names make a big impact, and that’s what counts.

The Web is Your Friend

Should you choose a business name based on its web-friendliness? It’s at least worth considering. While these days it’s difficult to match your company name with a dot-com URL, this strategic move can come in handy if your business is web-based (and even if it’s not). In her September 2012 Inc. article, Janine Popick claims, “If your business model revolves around the Web, or if you’re planning to spend a lot of money on online marketing, then an exact-match domain name should be a top priority. Think Netflix, Yelp, Spotify or, yes, even Google.”

Popick also reminds us that people are going to assume your company name is your URL, and if that name redirects them to another site, your business may suffer. However, if you do much of your business offline, an exact company name/URL match may not be as essential. In other words, consider the specifics of your business, and if it’s beneficial, don’t pass up an opportunity to use the web to your advantage.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask for Help

Choosing a name isn’t easy. As stated in the above-mentioned Enterpreneur.com article, finding an effective business name can take months, which you may or may not have. Don’t hesitate to consult an expert in the process, such as an expert in a naming firm. Not only do these individuals have a good understanding of trademark laws, they typically have a wide base of knowledge on naming strategies and can help steer you in the right direction. While the cost of these services can be substantial, there are branding experts who can help the thriftiest of entrepreneurs. Just keep in mind that you may get what you pay for.

Even if you aren’t able to pay for branding advice, there are resources that can help you keep track of the important steps in the naming process, including the value of actions such as registering a business name and applying for trademark protection. Check out SBA.gov for more info.

Whether you initially thought of a business name while engrossed in entrepreneur courses or you’re starting completely from scratch, with a little thought and research you’ll find a name that reflects the face of your endeavor. As in matters of love, when you find it, you’ll know.


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