One of the most essential parts of starting a new business is choosing the right name for it. Get that wrong, and it’s no exaggeration to say that your enterprise could be sunk before it ever has a chance. But why is a name so important when surely what should matter is the strength of your product, or your powers of great customer service? And how do you even come up with a great name anyway? This guide will explain all…
Why you need a good brand name
Your business is, more likely than not, going to need a website. And for that you will need a domain name, which is essentially your website’s address on the internet. If possible, you want your brand’s name and your domain name to be similar, if not identical. Trouble is, there isn’t much choice left among the .coms, or .co.uks unless you’re prepared to buy the one you want from the current owner.
When you source a web host, they will be able to help you secure the right domain for your brand and also to get the smaller, lesser-known domains that are vital to protecting your brand’s identity. So you might have the .com for smithandjonesplumbing for instance, but also want the .net, the .co, and more. You get other benefits from your host too don’t forget; for example UK2 Domain Names come with free email addresses and a one-page website.
This is something that you are going to build your entire brand around, so getting the right name is critical. Facebook was originally called thefacebook before it moved off university campuses and into the wider world. Once your business is firmly established, although you can change a domain name, it’s difficult to change your brand name without putting a big dent in your company’s reputation.
A memorable, catchy or intriguing name captures the attention of customers, and makes them want to learn more about you. It makes your company stand out. A forgettable one though can see you buried among the pack. First impressions count after all.
So that’s why you need a good brand name. Now, how do you come up with one?
Naming your brand
There are various techniques to naming a brand. You could give it your own name, Heidi’s Hairdressing or Simpson Tiling. You could come up with something that emphasises the philosophy of your company or explains what it’s about – the latest Apprentice runner-up had a very clear name for her online dating and gaming mash-up, DatePlay. You could make up a word from thin air, such as Google (that one is taken by the way) or put together some random words out of context to grab attention. Keep it simple though, and aim for positive connotations – call your laundry detergent brand Freshen or Sparkle, not Stainfreeclean.
Make sure your brand name is easy to pronounce, to remember and, crucially for when people are trying to find you online, to spell. And if you plan to expand internationally it would be a smart idea to check that it doesn’t have any unpalatable meanings in other languages, as Ford didn’t do for its Pinto in Spanish-speaking countries…
Does the name convey what you want it to convey? Do you want it to speak of your company’s modernity, its tradition, the quality of its products, its trustworthiness or that it gives great value? Tricky finding a name that encapsulates them all, so think of the one principle which really encapsulates your business and focus on that. A thesaurus will be a useful tool at this stage.
Once you have a shortlist of five or six names, get as much feedback as you can from other people. Don’t just ask whether they like a name or not. Ask them what it makes them feel, or or to try and define exactly why they do or don’t think it works.
Remember that choosing the right name for your brand is going to take time. There’s no need to have one from the start. Spend a few weeks mulling over the options while planning your business, reciting them over in your head to see what feels good, doodling the name and possible logos to imagine how they will look on websites or stationery, until you feel comfortable. This is a brand name that you will, hopefully, have for a long time, so it pays to give it serious thought.
Bill McNish is a journalism graduate with a passion for writing and a thirst for knowledge. He’s worked and written for a number of high profile magazines and websites since finishing university in 2014.