woman working on laptop at white desk

How to Choose a Name for Your Business

How important can a name be?

Very, actually. Especially when it concerns the success of a small business.

Having the right name for your company can make your business a well-known brand. Selecting the wrong name can hang like a dark cloud over your business, becoming the direct cause of your company’s demise. The general rule of thumb when figuring out how to name a business is to select the name that is representative of the unique, valuable and elite level products or services that your company offers.

Liberal industry leaders believe that abstract names are superior to all. That’s because they tend to act as a blank canvas in which the business owner can construct the illusion customers want to see. Experts who are more conservative-minded believe the purpose of a business name is to inform customers of the exact nature of the business. Some are convinced that names that come from made-up words are easier to remember, while others strongly believe they are forgettable.

When all has been said and done, any name you choose – as long as it’s paired with a highly effective marketing strategy – can work efficiently. Even so, there are a few considerations to make when learning how to name a business that will accomplish your particular business goals.

What Will Your Name Convey?

When brainstorming names, listen to the sound of the name. Take note of the feelings that come from hearing it out loud. Describe what comes to mind when you hear it spoken. Going through this process while evaluating each potential name against this criteria will help you pinpoint the exact type of emphasis needed to effectively convey your intended message.

Make sure your business name resonates in a way meaningful way. You want it to be so strong that when it’s heard, it immediately communicates a specific message. The more prominent a message you are able to convey, the closer you are to choosing the right name. Naming experts favour real words over fabricated ones because they believe people have a preference for words that are believable and understandable. For that reason, a string of initials or numbers on your company registration is a universally condemned route to take. Ideally, you simply want a name that explains your business in a way that it immediately tells people what service or product you offer.

But be careful that your name is not overly meaningful. Using a name that is based on generic or geographical attributes is a major pitfall. For instance, naming your business “Chicago Hot Dogs and Burgers” would mean you can only serve hot dogs and hamburgers – and only in Chicago.

What if customers demand that the menu include other food items such as breakfast food or even tacos? Does that take away from the integrity and reputation of the brand created by the name?

Even more, what if you decide to franchise your business in other states? A restaurant with “Chicago” in its name might not have the same impression on potential customers in Detroit. This name limits the entrepreneur to a specific product at a specific location, making diversification a challenging task.

You want your business name to be balanced between being broad and meaningful at the same time. Choosing a descriptive name means that you want to convey a concrete message about the business.

Whether concerns the location, services or products offered, or specialization, descriptive names serve a meaningful purpose. On the other hand, having a suggestive name allows you to incorporate abstract words that focus how the business aims to serve its customers. By telling consumers what the business is about, suggestive names empower your name to be broad.

A name like “MexiGrill” tells customers right away that the restaurant serves grilled food that is prepared in a Mexican style. While the name is completely made of real words – and not even a combination of two legitimate words – consumers can easily make an instinctive inference about the type of business it is and what it offers from just reading the name. Even more, the name “MexiGrill” excites customers who are either hungry or looking for something different from the norm.

Regardless of whether your business will be online or at a physical location, incorporate these considerations into your criteria:

  • The name you choose has to be appealing to both you and a wide audience, especially the demographic of people who you want to target.
  • Look for a name that is easily associated with the pleasant experience thoughts in order to add a sense of personality and relatable emotion.
  • Stay away from names that are too long or required to much thought to understand.
  • If you intend on using words to play on a pond, it must be one that everyone will pick up on without being lost or having to ask others to decipher the hidden meaning for them.
  • Unless you incorporate your business when you complete the company registration, do not put “Inc.” anywhere in your name.
Incorporate Creativity

Some of the most popular names for businesses are those that incorporate a sense of creativity and originality. You do not want to include anything in your business name that draws a noticeable similarity to another business – unless you are Office Depot and OfficeMax, of course.

Nonetheless, Burger King and McDonald’s sound nothing alike, although they serve similar food. Yet, Burger King is distinctively known for the Whopper, while the Big Mac could never be successfully sold at any other restaurant other than McDonald’s.

Coining a name is another popular way of creatively coming up with a title – seeing how almost every word in the dictionary has a trademark associated with it. Some of these newly created names can take on meanings that far exceed that of words that already exists.

For instance, there is no such thing as a “Google” – well, that used to be the case. When the company launched, they coined an entirely new and unique phrase. Whether it was intentional or not, we now use that name as a way of conveying that you will use search engines to perform a keyword search. If you tell someone that you will Google something or someone, it is very likely that they will know precisely what you mean.

Even though Google is neither an activity nor a word you can locate in the dictionary, the company was able to create a word that not only eventually took on a meaning of its own, it became a word used to describe an action that only can be executed using Google’s services. Of course, coining the name and providing it with an innovative meaning had a lot to do with Google’s initial marketing strategies.

Collect Varying Opinions

Once you have narrowed down your selections to a few names that all seem to work for you the most, the best way to make your final selection is solicit feedback from others. The saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” In this instance, you have an emotional and invested connection with the name. It is hard for you to truly step back, separate your biases and constructively choose the absolutely best name.

The point is by analysing the perceptions of others, you will expose the strengths and weaknesses of the name that you may be blind to. A name may possess profound feelings and conveyance when you hear it. But others may find the actual message conflicting. You might even find that some people develop a completely different mental picture than the one you hoped to convey.

The point is you are unable to view your own ideas from varying perspectives the way that other people can. By conducting your own naming comparison studies – whether you use surveys, polls, focus groups or contests – you can benefit from having varying personalities examine your ideas with a fresh pair of eyes. They can pick up on things that you will easily overlook to warn you of anything that may be misinterpreted negatively.

So solicit other people’s assistance, ask for their feedback and use their opinions to enhance the conciseness of your message. After all, their feedback will be a direct reflection of what your audience will think.

If you want to expedite the process or employ someone else to handle all of the details involved, hire a naming company that can conduct consumer research, analyse the data and develop a name that is free from any trademark conflicts. They know how to name a business in a way that is effective, productive and resonating.

When starting your company registration process, you should run your new name through a name search on a reputable site like A company formation service like this can offer an invaluably specialised service as experts in the naming industry. They are equipped with the ability to accomplish the business owner’s list of goals adequately, as well as propel the business forward with a brand that is fully expandable as the business grows.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *