How to name a business

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Coming up with a business name can be scary. Assuming your business succeeds, it’s a word or phrase you’ll be saying often for years to come. If you’re trying to name a business, you want to choose something that makes a positive and lasting impression. Something you’ll be proud of.

To make it a little easier, let’s start with the basics.

It all starts with a blank page

The first step in naming a business is to do a brain dump with paper and pen. Every idea that pops up when you think about your business needs to be written down.

Set a time limit of three to five minutes.

 

If you spend hours on this step, you’ll never make a decision. So limit the time for your brainstorming and if you’re not happy with your ideas, leave it for a few days then try again.

Pencil with pencil shavings on blank notebook
Write down every name idea you have, no matter how ridiculous.
Photo: Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

The do’s and don’ts of naming a business

You have a lot of freedom in how you name your business — just ask Brisbane fish and chip store A Salt and Battery. Talk about catchy business names!

Here are some helpful suggestions to guide you:

Do:

  • Make it simple. Complicated names are easily misspelt or forgotten.
  • Play with acronyms. Try out some acronyms to see if they sound right for your brand.
  • Test it. In 10 seconds or less, does your name tell your audience what your business is about?
  • Make it catchy and super easy to remember. You want your name to stick in their minds for a long time.
  • Make it relevant. Every name has meaning, choose one that relates to how you help your customers.
  • Go local. If you’re a local business, add a reference to your service area. It helps with search engine optimisation and word of mouth marketing.

Don’t:

  • Choose a long name. Keep it to three words or less for maximum impact.
  • Limit your business. You might only mow lawns now but what if you decide to branch into landscaping? Choose a name you’ll be able work under even if your services or products change.
  • Make it trendy. Trends come and go so don’t let your business become outdated in a year or two by naming it after a fad.
  • Choose obscure words or add hyphens. Words that are hard to pronounce or spell will stop people from finding you.

Related: Creative business names and how to find yours

Blank Nametags Sitting on a Table with Markers
Choose a business name you’ll be proud to share with the world.
Photo: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Decide what you want your name to convey

When naming a business, the goal is to instantly tell the audience something about what your venture stands for.

If you haven’t already come up with three to five core values for your business, now is the time to do it.

Values are single words that represent a belief. This belief guides the actions and decisions you’ll make in your business. You want the name you choose to reflect those core values.

Do you want to be known for fast service? Then words like speedy, nimble, rapid and swift will help convey that core value.

Maybe your business is about encouraging people to invite more fun into their lives. Using words like mischief, play and antic give a feeling for what your brand is about.

Some core values:

  • Connection
  • Loyalty
  • Reliability
  • Boldness
  • Honesty
  • Trust
  • Fun
  • Leadership
  • Diversity
  • Innovation
  • Quality
  • Inspiration

Can I use my own name to name a business?

If you’re a sole trader and you’re going to be building a personal brand, it’s a good idea to go with your own name as a business name.

If your name is long or tricky to spell, try using the first initial with your last name or just your first name combined with what you do.

Let’s say Stacey Kabuhkldy is a potter. Instead of having people struggling to remember her business name, she decides to go with Stacey K Pottery.

Person Throwing a Pot on a Potter’s Wheel
Photo: SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash

You’re almost there: check for availability

Once you have a name you like, hop on over to ASICS name availability checker to see if the name you’ve chosen is already taken.

You don’t want to build a website and print flyers, only to realise the name you want is already in use.

Then stop by IP Australia to find out if the name you’ve chosen has been trademarked.

If you choose a name and launch your business but someone else has already trademarked it, they’ll send you a legal letter advising you to cease using it.

Not only will it set you back to the start with finding a new name but you’re likely to lose customers during the changeover.

Consistency is key

Imagine you decide to call your business Lightning Fitness. But the domain name you will need for your web address (e.g. LightningFitness.au) isn’t available, so you buy one called LightningBoltFitness.au and then you make your Instagram account @boltfitness.

Your clients are going to wonder if they’re dealing with the same business on each platform. Confusion leads to doubt and doubt stops them from buying from you. Or they won’t be able to find you through Google because they’ll be searching for the wrong name.

Consistency is vital, so check to be sure the business name you want isn’t registered on ASICS to someone else and that it is available as a domain name and as a handle on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

See if the domain name you want is available now

Lastly, check if your competitors are using a similar name. If you’ve chosen Chad’s Shoes and a competitor has named their business Brad’s Shoes, your customers will be confused about which business they’re dealing with.

Think big

Did Steve Jobs know Apple would one day become a multinational technology company when he named his business? We’ll never know. But we challenge you to choose a name that would suit a wildly successful business. Make it a name you want to live up to.