Game: Naming Your Business
by Terri Lonier
If you're like most small business owners, your company means
a lot to you -- in some ways, you consider it your baby. You've
planned for it since its conception, nurtured it from birth,
given it tender loving care, and have great hope for its future.
It makes sense, then, to name your business with the same
care that you would name a child. Keep the following seven
guidelines in mind as you consider naming your new company.
1. Make the name meaningful.
Since the name is often the first thing someone knows about
your business, consider it an important marketing tool. Avoid
vague names by thinking about the key focus of your business.
Pat's Carpentry Services is more descriptive than ABC Industries.
Some people, especially artists and designers, like to include
their first or last names in their business names. This can
help personalize your product or service, and it is easier
to avoid conflicts with a business name that includes your
2. Make sure the name is easy
to understand and pronounce.
Because you want your business name to be passed along easily
by word-of-mouth, make sure it is easy to understand and repeat.
Those with unusual names know this can present a challenge
but can also provide for a memorable business name, once people
have it in their minds. Also, shorter names are usually more
memorable and less likely to be sources of confusion.
3. Choose a name that you can
live and grow with.
Be forward-thinking in your choice of a business name, so
it can expand as you do. The name Anytown VCR Repair can limit
a business that wants to expand to include laser disc players,
camcorders, or other electronics equipment. Choose a name
that is broad enough to give your business growing room and
narrow enough to retain the power to communicate its focus.
Also, make sure the name will outlast current fads or trends.
What will happen to Jan's Radical Clothing Design in 5-10
years? It's likely that radical will either have changed meanings
or will sound hopelessly dated.
4. Make it unique.
As a sole proprietor, you'll be required to file legal forms
indicating your business intent and the fictitious name you've
chosen. Your name must also be unique, since two businesses
in the same geographic area cannot legally operate under the
same name. It's a good idea to prepare a list of three or
four alternate business names when you go to file, in case
your first choice is taken.
5. Try it on for size.
In choosing a business name, jot down a list of possibilities
and try them out on friends and family. Don't rush the process.
Live with each possibility for a while. Remember, you'll probably
be using this name for quite some time.
6. Does it work in print?
Remember that your business name
must also look good in print, because that's the way most
prospects and customers will encounter it first. Write your
name out several ways, and also experiment with how it looks
in different sizes and type fonts. Is it easy to spell? Also,
a name that comes earlier in the alphabet is always a plus
since many listings are alphabetical (take it from someone
who has battled being a "W" of Working Solo for
more than a decade!).
7. Turn to designers for a professional-looking
When it comes time to put your business
name in print, turn to professionals to create your logo and
letterhead. These days, you can achieve very polished results
even if you have a modest budget. This is an area where it
really pays to hire a professional. Unless you're a graphic
designer, don't take the chance of having a "home-made"
look. It will pay off in the professionalism you will be able
to achieve right out of the starting gate. In fact, this is
such an important topic, that I've created an
entire article on logo design. You can check
it out here.
Naming a business is not always easy, but it can be fun. Choose
a name that will provide a good image and will communicate
your business purpose clearly. Also, make sure you like it.
After all, you'll be spending a lot of time with this baby.
By selecting wisely, you'll make your business name a valuable
company asset, and a phrase you'll say with pride for many
years to come.
Copyright 1997-2006 Terri Lonier. All
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