When you’re starting a business, one of the steps to starting a small business is naming your business. While a rose by any other name may indeed smell just as sweet, the name you choose for your business is one of the most critical decisions you will make.
Your business name is the foundation of EVERYTHING in your business. It will affect every aspect of your business from customer perception to the domain name you use for your web presence. Make a mistake in naming your business and, trust me – it will haunt you for years to come.
This post is obviously a “do as I say, not as I do” kind of post. I am the QUEEN of choosing horrible names for my adventures. Case in point – Virtual Impax. I can admit it – it’s a TERRIBLE NAME for a business! The “fun-n-funky” hooked on phonics spelling just makes it worse.
How do I know it’s a terrible business name? The first clue I had that the name Virtual Impax was a horrible business name was when first question most people ask is, “What is that?” or “What do you do?”
Another horrible choice – Acumen Web Services. Do you know what the word “acumen” means? If you don’t, you’re in good company. Naming my alter ego business Acumen Web Services is clearly a case of “Who talks like that?”
The answer – me and only me.
With this said, there is a school of thought out there on naming your business that would tell you that I’ve been BRILLIANT in naming my business ventures. See, these unique and unusual names means that my web presence is a GUARANTEED NUMBER 1 listing with the search engines.
People who SUBSCRIBE to this school of thought are idiots.
I say this with all the love and affection possible, but these people truly do NOT understand search.
WHO CARES IF YOU HAVE A NUMBER 1 SEARCH PLACEMENT ON A TERM NO ONE IS USING TO SEARCH?
You put yourself at a huge advantage if your business name is also your domain name.
“But wait,” you may be thinking, “Xerox is a made up name and they’re a house hold word now!”
Ah, yes my Padawan learner (veiled Star Wars reference) Xerox, Kodak, Kleenex – even Google are all “not real word” names that have come mean something in our daily lives but the path those “brands” have taken have literally been paved in gold. In each case (except for Google), the path to creating a brand name that becomes a household term is achieved through extensive and relentless advertising.
One of my early web development clients was a local Tru Value store. This was way back in the 1990’s and my client had recently purchased the store. While the storefront was barely breaking even, the previous owners had started selling lighted Christmas lawn displays out of the back room. Now THAT was a business worth buying. My client had decided to take the business “to the web”, which was VERY cutting edge thinking way back in 1998. Unfortunately, the name he chose was Holiday Silhouettes. The only reason I can spell silhouettes is because of the time I worked with him. He took a pass on the easy to spell, easy to remember domain name “Christmas Lights.com” Is it a coincidence that the company who chose the easy to spell domain name is still in business and he’s not?
So if choosing an obscure hard to spell word, a nonsense jumble of letters or purposefully misspelling common words are all LOSER business naming strategies, what are some WINNING business naming strategies?
The following advice is for those who don’t have a lot of money to spend on either a branding consultant or a naming service.
- A great small business name tells what you do.
- A great small business name communicates your business’ unique place in the universe.
- A great small business name uses words that people can easily spell.
- A great small business name uses words that people are using to search for solutions to the GDP (not Gross Domestic Product but rather Goals, Desires and Problems).
A rose by any other name may indeed smell as sweet – but you can make the climb to the top easier by choosing the right name for your business.