How To Choose a New Business Name
Here are a number of ways (in no particular order) to help you decide on a new business name:
1. Create a Business Plan: If you can develop a clear business plan including the long-term goals of your business idea, narrowing down your choices for a business name will be easier. More on creating a business plan here.
2. Choose a Business Structure: Depending on where you live, Sole-proprietorships and Partnerships often are not considered legal entities, and may have less restrictions on name registration. Structures such as LLC’s and Corporations will have more requirements.
3. Choose a Specialty: Choosing a specialty or “niche” can help narrow down name ideas, and also may provide a unique and original name others may not have. For example, if you are starting a jewelry business, and enjoy mainly working with beads, you may want to include the word “beads” in your jewelry business name.
4. Reach a Broader Audience: If you have a variety of skills, or are not sure which direction your business may go, you may not want to limit your business name to a specialty. Using the jewelry example, you may want to specialize in beads, but not limit your business to just beads. In this case, choose a more general name that indicates a jewelry business. Use your marketing materials to indicate beads as your specialty, but also show that you create many types of jewelry.
5. Consider Your Target Audience: What type of customer is your primary target? If you are in an affluent area, a name including words such as “Premier” or “Elite”, would help attract the wealthier clientele. In this case you could stick with a strong general business name, such as using your own name, or using a name that indicates quality and prestige. If you are in a lower income area, you may wish to choose a business name that indicates value or affordability such as “Affordable” or “Budget”.
6. Use Your Own Name: Do you want your own name in the business name? Using your own name adds a personal touch that may appeal to customers. You will most likely have less restrictions in registering your business name if your full name is used (“Kerri Johnson Cleaning Service”). If just part of your name is used (“Walsh Cleaning”) you may still have to file a fictitious name and/or a DBA (doing business as).
7. Use a Simple Name With A Catchy Slogan: You may also choose a simpler business name and focus on a catchy slogan that will define your business. While “Phil Smith Auto Detailing” may not sound too fancy, a tagline associated with your business name can give you a big boost. You can see how having “Phil Smith Auto Detailing- Elite Vehicle Detailing Services” on your business card, advertisement, or plastered on the side of your vehicle may have a greater effect than just “Phil Smith Detailing”.
8. Choose a name near the front of the alphabet: An old-school technique for deciding on a business name would be to choose a name that would show up alphabetically near the front of the traditional phonebook. Examples for this would be “Apple Auto” or “Apex Roofing”. This technique may not be as beneficial, as it used to be with the innovations of modern marketing strategies utilizing social media and search engines such as Google.
9. Choose a name that easy to remember: Using a short simple name may be more beneficial than a long, difficult-to-spell name.
10. Don’t just settle on any business name, thinking you can just change it later on: Obviously, you could change your name at some point down the road, but doing so could hurt your business. Previous customers may have a hard time finding you. You may miss out on referrals as your old business name is no longer used. You will have to spend time and money changing all marketing materials, your website, and branding to reflect your new name. It is better to take your time and decide on a name you will be happy with years down the road, rather than one you will be regretting a few years into your business. Not all businesses fail or struggle because they decided to change their name, but that possibility should definitely be something you should consider now, rather than later.
11. Make sure your business name is legal: After choosing your name, you will need to register with the proper institutions. You should make sure the name you are choosing isn’t trademarked, or used by someone else in the area. Registering your business name may not only be necessary on a local level such as with your city, but also with other government agencies for tax purposes.
12. Choose a good website address to complement your business name: While it would be ideal to have your business name as the actual web address, it isn’t always possible. Instead of using your actual business name, you could use some other variation that doesn’t even include your name such as “DenverAreaLandscaping.com”. You could even choose a web address that reflects your specialty such as “PhillyCupcakes.com”. The key with choosing a website name is to keep it easy to remember and easy to spell. If your website is set up properly, customers will have no problem finding you, no matter what the web address is.