What you need to know about choosing business names
You will learn
- What type of name you want for your business
- How to make sure it's a unique name
- How to get your domain name
Choosing names for a business when you’re first starting out is really exciting, but can also be quite frustrating. You might already have an idea of what you want to call your business, or you might be starting from square one and be searching for inspiration. Either way, here’s all you need to know about choosing names for a business.
What type of name do you want?
There are lots of different approaches to coming up with names for a business. You might decide that you want to include your name in your business title to add an obvious connection to yourself, or maybe want to include a place name if you’re going to be exclusively based in one area. Names like those can help customers connect with your business, as it adds a personable element that they can identify with. Just make sure it doesn’t limit your future potential, as location specific shop names might not be helpful if you want to take your business national or even global in the future.
You could also consider something a bit more abstract, like Apple or Android. As they’re a bit more unusual and they grab customer interest, but you will have to put lots of effort into establishing a recognisable brand for them. Just try not to choose something so obscure or hard to pronounce that your customers won’t want to even try to engage with you.
Don’t fall into the trap of being overly descriptive with your name either, as that won’t help you to stand out in the crowded marketplace. Google for example, stands out and have invested time and money developing their brand. If they’d called themselves SearchTheInternet, that would have been much more descriptive but less memorable.
Keep it as short as you can, as long names are easily forgotten. Think about all the big brands out there at the moment, they all have short, snappy names like Virgin, Amazon, or Orange. Don’t forget the power of social media either, with limits to characters, a long business name is likely to get missed out of a customer’s ‘tweet’, ‘hashtag’ or ‘check-in’ if it takes up too much space.
Consider your spelling too, as changing an ‘s’ for a ‘z’ or ‘ph’ for ‘f’ might be tempting to make your name a little different, but it can also create problems later down the line. If you’re on the phone to potential customers, having an unusual spelling might make it difficult for them to take down the correct information. It could also harm your chances of people finding your website when they’re searching online, as they might not consider using alternative spellings for what they’re looking for.
When you’ve got a few name suggestions, you should sense check them with your friends, family and other colleagues. That way, you can get an idea of whether it will be well received by your customers and that it will help you create a reliable and trusted brand.
Make sure your name is unique
You’ll need to make sure that there’s nobody else in your market with a similar name, otherwise you’ll not only risk customer confusion, you might also be in breach of their intellectual property.
You’ll need to do thorough research into your chosen name to make sure there are no businesses in your area that are already registered with the name you’re hoping to use for your business. If there are, you’ll have to head back to the drawing board. As well as using Companies House, check your local phone books, business directories, chambers of commerce etc. as sole traders don’t need to register with Companies House. You can also run free searches through the Intellectual Property Office, the National Business Register, and The World Intellectual Property Organization database to see if anyone else has registered the name you’re hoping to use for your business.
Research your domain name
When choosing names for a business, you’ll need to consider what your website address, also known as your domain name, will be. So, for example, your business name might be Phoebe’s Flowers, so your domain name should reflect that and be something like phoebes-flowers.co.uk. Customers expect to see the business name reflected in the URL for your website. It makes it much easier for customers to find the right website for your business. Having two very separate business and domain names will cause confusion, lose customer trust, and make it hard for them to identify with your brand.
What happens after the “dot” in your website address can also tell your customers a lot about your business and influence the amount of trust they put in your business. Having a .com, .co.uk, or .org address for your website will inspire more confidence than a .club, .ninja or .london address, as it makes your business seem more official and longer lasting.
You should also spend some time researching what social media names are available that match your business name. If @Phoebe’s_Flowers or some other variant of your name isn’t available on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn, or whichever other social media site your customers use frequently, you might need to have a re-think. Social media is a very powerful tool that influences your customers’ buying decisions, so you want to make sure that your business name, web address and social media all reflect your business brand.
There are lots of different options available to you when you’ve decided on what your address is going to be and want to register your domain name. You’ll need to do lots of research to see which domain register has the right support, service and price for your business. The UK Domain might be a good place for you to start your domain research, as they provide lots of .uk website addresses. They take you through the whole process of searching for an available address, provide you with options for deciding on a registrar to get your domain name registered, and help you buy your domain name. Registering a domain name can be a headache, so it’s probably worth getting in touch with a website expert to help talk you through the process.