Success of a business or lack of it is a direct consequence of the various decisions made by its owner(s). The process of decision making begins right from the establishment of a company. Decisions made at this point could go a long way in dictating the firm’s future. One of the necessary choices to be made in the infancy of a business is choosing the right name.
A business name is at the nucleus of its operations. The performance of a good idea can be hobbled by the ineptitude of a poor name and this gives competitors an edge.
Globally, we know of stand-out businesses like Google, Apple, and Uber; names which are doing those particular brands great justice by offering wide recognition which translates into profits. However, there are several uninspiring and dull names which have cost their respective brands.
What’s in a Business Name?
A Company branding specialist Jim Fowle notes,
“When starting a company, your brand is of vital importance. Branding is not only composed of a memorable logo, but also an effective and memorable name that can really help people remember you. This can be portrayed strongly and visually as well.
Your company's brand is just as significant as your business function because;
- It is the first point of customer contact
Prospective customers first come into contact with your business through its name. This strikes an initial right tone will most likely prompt a client to buy. A customer will remember your company because of its uniqueness. The customer-business relationship is dictated by this first impression. First impressions do last.
- It gives a summary of a company
In most cases, the general public will know what a particular business deals in just from the name. For instance, coming across a business brand like British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) conveys the message that it is news broadcasting entity.
That notwithstanding, a name also communicates a firm’s specific values and beliefs. Case in point, to car lovers, Mercedez Benz is associated with luxury vehicles.
- It represents a business’ unique take on a given industry
Companies are always competing in the same market as they provide the same services or sell the same products. Each of these firms will work hard through different tactics to attract customers to their corner. This begs the question, “Why would a customer choose a particular company over the other?” A simple answer boils down to how a company brands itself and with branding comes the business name. This helps form an identity and with identity, there lie factors which influence customer choices.
- It offers direction to your business
Given that its name sums up your trade to your customers, it is consequently important in the creation of strategies for business growth as well as ensuring that you remain on course to fulfill your mission.
As you start the process of coming up with a name for your business, you will have to also appreciate .
What are the Pointers of a Good Business Name?
When choosing a name for your business, you ought to see to it that it satisfies the following criteria.
- Ease of remembrance
An apt choice shouldn’t be too long or complicated. You will lose out to your competitor when customers remember their brand with much ease than yours. Moreover, it should be something you like hearing, saying and even looking at.
Barring state requirements, your company name should be distinctive. This helps your customers distinguish your business from others. Therefore, it shields you from losing out to rival firms.
Besides, as per regulations, a Corporation’s or a Limited Liability Company’s name must be unique and must not be deviously similar to other already registered companies.
- Ability to describe your business dealings
In a nutshell, your business name should communicate directly what your entails. For instance, New York Travels clearly brings to mind a transport firm. This reduces the hustle prospective customers have to go through in search of specific products and services.
However, some names don’t portray what a business does. Often, some don’t even have dictionary meanings, but they sound right to pronounce. This boosts uniqueness as they could be branded to mean whatever the owner wants. The downside of this strategy is that there will be massive investment in branding to get clients to associate that particular name with specific goods.
- A name with a single meaning
If it has a double meaning it may be bad for business as it creates confusion among customers. Your name should make it easy for clientele to make a decision instead of further muddying the waters.
- Ease of branding
It should be sellable. Otherwise, it will be detrimental to have a handsome branding budget for a name that's hard to convince the masses.
- A name your business or market won’t outgrow
Getting such a name isn’t easy because predicting the future is no small task and also due to the dynamic nature of business. But its upside is the elimination of future rebranding costs occasioned by a change of name.
- Not already trademarked
A trademark identifies and distinguishes the source of particular goods or services. It can be a word, a phrase, a symbol or design or a combination of these four. A service mark is specific for services.
If another corporation has registered the business name you intend to use as a national trademark, then you are prohibited from using it by law.
- Capacity to be protected
A business name can be protected as a trademark if it is descriptive, distinct and has not been already trademarked by other companies. Trademarking preserves uniqueness of your name and brand at the same time covering you legally in cases of future infringements.
If you are unable to trademark your business name, though not effective as trademarks, you can consider the following options;
-Using it on your website and other advertisement medium to boost awareness
-Securing the Corporation or a Limited Liability Company
-Owning the domain
-Applying for a local instead of a national trademark
- Web ready
A business name should easily be incorporated into a web address or URL. In such a case, it should be unique and available. To establish whether it has been claimed or not, you can do a simple search. When the web address is available, you can proceed to domain name registration.
Steps Involved in Choosing a Business Name
Now that you are aware of its worth and the features that make one a front-runner, you can now embark on the process of coming up with it. It may be a tedious process, however, it can also boost the performance of your business. These steps are:
Step 1: Brainstorming
In this stage, you write down all potential name ideas. While doing this, it is important to have the following in mind; the objectives and nature of business, the target market, adjectives that best describe it, metaphors or symbols related to the plan. To increase your pool, you can welcome the input of friends and family and other people in the industry.
Step 2: Evaluation of the options
Here, you subject all the options to the criteria discussed above to make sure it depicts the essential features of a killer business name.
Furthermore, keen attention should be given to the legal availability of a business name. You, therefore, must conduct a search at the Patent and Trademarks lists and the Corporation or LLC databases. Besides, you need to be certain of its availability as a URL.
Step 3: Collection of feedback
After several names meet the specifications above, you then present the list to family and friends and most importantly, potential customers for feedback. If the business name targets teenagers, then you should pay more attention to the feedback given by them. If men are the target market, then they should be the ones to give feedback. This is because demographics do influence business practices.
From various responses, you can now settle on the most appropriate options.
Step 4: Asserting Social Media identity
Even before you register the name, you can use it on Social media platforms like Facebook. This kicks off the process of branding at the same time warding off, albeit, informally, all people who could have intended to claim this idea.
Step 5: Legalization of the business name
Now that you have a name, you then proceed with the incorporation of your company and don’t forget to apply for trademark protection.
Once this process is done, you need to apply for all the necessary licenses to relevant authorities, if your business requires so.
Now that all your company registration formalities and trademarks are dealt with, you can proceed to the creation of a successful marketing strategy and build the right awareness related to your business name.
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