What’s in a (Business) Name?

Choosing a name is one of the most exciting parts of starting a business, and you may already have a few ideas in mind. Though it might seem like a tiny and inconsequential step, with about 32 million businesses in the USA, it’s your first and permanent form of advertising to help you stand out.

You’ll also be tied to the name for a long time. So it’s definitely worth considerable deliberation and planning.

What really is in a business name? Here are a few things that go into it you might want to consider.

First Impressions and Perception

Have you ever heard of a name so ridiculous that it puts you off from trying a business’ product or service? Imagine naming your restaurant Sam and Ella’s, or your business any of these.

The name of your business is part of people’s first impression of your company, and it’s one way for you to establish trust even in the very beginning. Choose a business name that isn’t repulsive or offensive, one that exudes the kind of energy you want your customers to be feeling when they first encounter you. First impressions last. So make the name count.

History and Meaning

Nike brand

According to Psychology Today, humans are always on a search for meaning, even in business names. Consider choosing a business name whose meaning makes sense with your brand’s story.

For example, Nike was named after the Greek goddess of victory. Today, the Nike brand has become an icon synonymous with power and speed — closely associated with the idea of victory.

Attracting customers and investors alike means conveying a compelling narrative like Nike’s. It has to be consistent with either your history or your brand vision, and that starts with how you name your business.

Catchiness and Brand Recall

An infographic titled The Shortening Human Attention Span reports that the average attention span of humans is just 8.25 seconds. As brands compete for customers’ attention, every aspect becomes a battleground, including business names.

Debbi Fields mentioned in a previous post that, in business, you have to choose how you’ll fight to not be number two. So make sure to name your business something short and catchy so that it’s easy to remember, spell, and search. This way, you’ll remain top of mind over your competitors.

Your name is the first access point for your customers. How will they choose you among others if they can’t even remember your name.

Broadness or Specificity

Some owners attach the type of service they offer to their name or choose ones that describe the industry they’re in. While it’s a good thing to choose a name that’s relevant to the type of work that you do, you need to make sure your name describes your scope of work well.

Choosing a name that’s too specific can limit you from someday diversifying, while naming it too broad can mislead people to think you offer more than you do. People can gauge what you’re capable of from your name. So make sure to look at the big picture while managing people’s expectations when you choose.

Legal Considerations

There are legal aspects to consider when naming your business such as state regulations when you register. ZenBusiness highlights how these can vary depending on your home state, but the general principles remain the same.

For instance, most states restrict entrepreneurs from using words like “bank” or ‘insurance” in their business names without certain licenses. It’s also important to choose a name that is completely different from any other business. So, run searches on Google and your Secretary of State’s website and even consider hiring a lawyer with startup expertise.

Once you’ve chosen your name, it also pays to apply for a trademark so that you get exclusive rights to its usage. That way, your business alone holds the power to preserve its integrity.

Final Thoughts on Choosing a Name

Your name is the very foundation your brand identity is built upon. A rose called by any other name may still smell as sweet. But businesses aren’t roses. Your name is the first message you send out to the world. It can attract, repel, encourage or offend.

As the name grows, every milestone and achievement will add to its goodwill. Make it work to your advantage by taking the time to choose not only what sounds good, but what rings most true to you and your business.

2 thoughts on “What’s in a (Business) Name?

  1. I am deciding on a name right now and looking for all sorts of advice and inspiration. This is one of the best articles I have read on the topic and it is really helping me narrow down on which option would be best. I have some logo ideas and branding ideas but I need to settle on a name first and be sure it is right for my future company.

  2. The name is essential. It speaks to your audience showing them what and who you are. What are you trying to sell? Where are you coming from? Why should people buy from you? It’s all in the name.

    And the name is also speaking to you. A great name will motivate you and make you proud of what you have. A poorly chosen name will not inspire you when the going gets tough and it will.

    Spending sufficient time on finding the right name is important. That name should evoke the feelings you have for your business and let people know they are getting something special when they buy from you.

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