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Naming Your Business

Naming your business is one of the most important decisions for you to make. Choosing the right business name can sometimes mean the difference between success and failure, both offline and on the internet.

A winning business name can produce instant results; give you instant credibility, respect, and bring in the target market customers you seek. Find a business name that gives potential customers a firm idea of what they're buying and what they can expect. Focus on what your customers want and how you can guarantee to deliver it.

Ideally, if you can find the right keywords for a business name, the same domain name, and you use those keywords on your website, you gain an immediate advantage on search engine directories and listings

Your business name can be with you for a long time - for that reason it pays to take the time to come up with the right name for your business. Here are some tips to help you:

1. Choose a Memorable Business Name
2. Are you Local or Global?
3. Keep it Short and Simple
4. Avoid Creating unknown Words
5. Keep it Acceptable and Respectable to Build Confidence
6. The Sound of a Business Name is Important
7. Choose a Name that is Easy to Spell
8. Try it out in Print
9. Check your Name is available and not Trademarked
10. Match your Business Name with the same Domain Name
11. Use your Business Name to establish a Legal Identity
12. Think about your Business Tag Line or Slogan
13. Use your Best Keywords to Brainstorm a Name
14. Try out your Name on Others Before you Commit

1. Choose a Memorable Business Name

Ideally, you want a business name that is distinctive and concise, that also communicates your message. Potential customers need to be able to find it when looking in a phone book, directory, or online. Find a memorable name that reflects the nature of your business and is generic enough to allow product or service growth in the future.

If possible, find a name that evokes an image, such as Shell Oil Company (imagine a sea shell). A business name with a visual element can be a powerful memory aid as well as a powerful advertising tool. Such a name might also become your brand, if you consider this aspect whilst you go through the process of choosing your business name. Brand building at the same time as choosing your business name is a great strategy.

Read an Overview on Brand Building

2. Are you Local or Global?

If your business is intended to serve only local customers, then your name could include a place name, along with keyword/s describing what your business is about. However, if you ever want to expand or develop to global trading, using a local name can create future problems, and you may have to re-think or change your business name.

If you want to trade globally, and fully utilise the internet, it is better to find a generic name that will allow you to adapt and change your business without having to change your business name or matching domain name.

3. Keep it Short and Simple

Too many words or letters can be difficult to remember, so consider limiting your business name to around three words. Most trademarked names tend to be less than three words (so may not be available) and more than three words becomes less memorable - so the name loses simplicity. The most memorable form of communication is the simple written or spoken word.

4. Avoid Creating unknown Words

Don't try to be too smart. Unless you are already well established and have developed your own brand, avoid creating words that only mean something to you. Keep the creativity for your company logo design if you want something 'trendy' or 'snazzy'. Even then, try to keep this design aspect within the bounds of your business if you want this to be memorable also. A good example of a memorable business name and logo is the Shell Oil Company, with a shell graphic for their logo - simple and memorable.

5. Keep it Acceptable and Respectable to Build Confidence

Your business name will serve you best if you stay away from words that can add a stigma and harm the perception of what your business is about, or harm potential relationships with important business services, such as bankers and merchant account providers.

For example, a name like the "Get Rich Quick" company would not inspire confidence in your customers that the business is legitimate. Such words and phrases would imply a 'spam and scam' set up.

Using spam words in your company name will also guarantee non-delivery of any email communications you might send out. Most ISP's and email programs have spam filters, and if your business name or communications include spam words, all your hard work will be in vain.

Look for words that do no harm; will be respected in the business world; and that give people the confidence to announce their association with your company.

You can Check Your Content Here

6. The Sound of a Business Name is Important

When you choose a name, make sure it can be pronounced, and easily trip off the tongue. Test this on friends when they phone you, to see how it sounds to you and to them, and ask them for an opinion. This will tell you how your customers will cope, and is important if the name is spread by word of mouth or via audio clips or radio advertising.

Repeated sounds (such as Laser Razor) generally add to the appeal of a name, but you also want to make sure your new name is not easily confused with similar sounding words that have nasty connotations.

Have some fun and try this Online Rhyming Dictionary

7. Choose a Name that is Easy to Spell

Your business name should not only have an easy sound, it should also be easy to spell, particularly if you want to be found through search terms used by potential customers.

8. Try it out in Print

Take a look at how your business name looks on paper. Type it up as a letterhead, hand-write it, and fit it into an article to see if it looks good. Show it to others and ask them what impact it has on them.

9. Check your Name is available and not Trademarked

Check out that you have chosen a business name that no-one else is already using. Apart from creating confusion, you may find yourself in legal trouble if you use a name already registered as a company, or which includes trademarked prefixes, words or phrases.

A trademark is a unique graphic logo or a unique name identifying a business, product or service. If it looks like your business has commercial potential, and you choose a business name that is available and not already trademarked, it's a wise move to protect your right to use a particular business name by registering the trademark right from the start. Do this in your own country and any other countries where you expect to do business.

This will cost money, but could save you in the long term by preventing another company from filing for registration ahead of you. It will take quite some time to complete the process, but when you apply, add the "TM" superscript next to your name to show your intention to use it as a trademark.

If you are successful in the registration you can then use the "R" symbol to show that you own the trademark and that gives you legal recourse if anyone tries to use it or abuse it.

Check for trademarks using your favourite search engine - just type in 'free trademark search' or 'trademark registration' and so on, adding your own country for a more specific search. You will find the information you need on relevant government websites.

Here are some online database links for US : Canada : UK and Australia

10. Match your Business Name with the same Domain Name

It's a good idea to register your business name as a domain name, even if you don't plan to use the business name for your website. You can use the business domain name for your ecommerce transactions, such as (orders @ business, communications (support @ and so on. You can put up a simple web page, so that when customers see your business name on their credit card statements, they can link up to remind themselves about your business and link up to your website/s.

Read more about Domain Name Registration and how to check name availability

11. Use your Business Name to establish a Legal Identity

Once you have found a good name for your business, make it legal by using the name to either incorporate your company or establishing another form of legal identity. You could pay an attorney to take care of the paper work and name search for you, and also check trademarks.

If you want to check names yourself, type the words 'company registration' or company names' or 'incorporation' into your search engine to find the relevant organisation for where you are.

12. Think about your Business Tag Line or Slogan

Developing a tag line or slogan can have equal impact on people's perception of your business and enhance your identity. This can be used alongside your business name on cards, stationery, ads, invoices, and as an email signature. A good example is the slogan "You can be sure of shell" from the Shell Oil Company (with a shell logo). The slogan, the company name and their logo create a memorable brand.

Test this interactive tool for evaluating Tag Lines or Slogans

13. Use your Best Keywords to Brainstorm a Name

To give you the best advantage on the internet, a memorable keyword-rich business name and matching domain name is the best combination to strive for. You can also use the same words as your anchor text (this is visible text of a hyperlink) which helps search engine optimization.

From your initial market research to find what your target market wants, you will have undertaken lots of keyword research and selected high value words and phrases to decide on the niche that's right for you. You can take the highest value and most popular keywords your target audience will search for and craft those words into a business name and domain name.

Use this list as a starting point, and do more research if necessary, to find alternatives you might not have thought of earlier. Google Suggest is very useful for finding variations of the search terms people type in, plus the number of times the term has been used for searching.

14. Try out your Name on Others Before you Commit

After all that work, don't commit to your top choice until you have tried it out on at least half a dozen people who have never seen or heard it before. You may find that they don't understand it, or that you're not so keen yourself, after all. Give it a little time, but don't dwell on it too long, or it will start to seem more memorable than when you first came up with it!

If you're not 100% happy with your new business identity, you may find it difficult to be passionate about spreading the word about your business. If you can't get enthusiastic about it, start the process again.

When you are finally ready, use your new business name and domain name everywhere; on letterheads; on business cards; on brochures; on your website/s; as an email signature file; in articles; in advertisements and when you speak about your business on the phone or any verbal communication.

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