Choosing a Business Name

How to choose a business name

Choosing a name for your business can be quite tricky. Some people just use their own names followed by the name of the service offered. But, if you’re planning on getting more creative with your name, then it’s best to test it out first.  

You can change your business name at any time, but this carries a risk of confusing your customers. Changing the name of your business can also have cost implications. Imagine if Sainsbury’s were to completely change their name and branding. The relationship customers have with the original branding history would seem to vanish overnight. This loss could have a serious knock-on effect for sales figures.


Choosing a name which supports your long-term plan

It’s quite easy to get ultra-specific when naming your brand. Giving your audience an idea of what the business does based on name alone can be pretty handy. Playing the long game though, a very specific name could also cause your business to be locked out of other avenues in the future. Pitching freshly baked cakes to local cafes will be much more difficult for a business named ‘Merseyside Motors’.

A great example of this is Nintendo. Starting off as a card company in the late 1800s, they changed their brand into one of the largest video game companies of all time - all without needing to change their name.


Don’t take it personally

Sometimes your business name ideas might be great, other times they might not be. Nobody gets it right all the time! If you are looking to get some advice on names or ideas then don’t be afraid to take some criticism.

Of course, if the criticism is “it’s awful”, suspend your feelings for a moment, and dig down to see what’s awful about it. There’s no use in getting criticism that isn’t constructive. If these critiques make you more aware of your brand and help inspire better ideas, they’ll be invaluable.


Use an online service

Companies such as PickFu allow you to start a poll on anything you desire and it is used by developers, authors and entrepreneurs. There’s no reason why you can’t get some expert advice on your business name.

Polling does come at a cost though. These start at around $50 and allow you to conduct a poll with numerous options, images and information to around 50 respondents. These respondents can also be chosen specifically if needed, just be sure that you don’t give too many options or filter your respondents too narrowly. This may affect how useful the returned results are.


Ask your friends and family for impartial advice

Getting opinions from people you trust the most can really help bring some honest, yet well-meaning advice on your business name.

Don’t be dismayed if they don’t like it though, take note of their criticisms and ask them how they’d improve it. Sometimes other people can see things that you can’t, it’s better to get this out of the way before you have the name set in stone. For example, making sure the acronym of the company name isn’t offensive.

This is also a cheap way to get comments on the choice of name. If your budget is tight when starting out, methods such as polling or questionnaires can start to add up fast. You may be able to get around this cost a little by quizzing your social circle first.


Will the business name affect your marketing plans?

Sometimes choosing a particular business name can affect how you are able to market your business. For example a particularly long name can be difficult to fit onto merchandise. The type of wording you choose for a brand name can alienate or attract particular audiences, sometimes with unpredictable results.

Doing a spot of market research before choosing a company name can help ensure that it communicates the right connotations to the desired audience.


Do you have any ideas on how to test a business name? Would you let someone pick a name for you, or do you believe it has to be a personal choice? Let us know over on Twitter! 

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