9 Tips on How to Choose a Perfect Business Name

Brand Voice
·6 min read

Choosing the right name for your business isn’t always easy – you need the name to be catchy and memorable, while still conveying what you do. Many new entrepreneurs don’t put any thought into their business name, thinking that it’s their content that matters most. This is true, but if a company’s brand name doesn’t align with what they offer, it could cause customers to go elsewhere.

These days, there are thousands of similar companies vying for business. For every product, there are a hundred alternatives. It’s more important now than ever to stand out from the crowd. In a fast-moving world where our attention spans are shorter and we no longer have the time to research each company’s history, ethics, product quality and value compared to similar products.

Here are nine tips for choosing the perfect name for your business:

  • Don’t be afraid to crowd source, but make sure you have a decision maker

If you’re the only founder in your business, the decision maker will be obvious: it’s you. But don’t be afraid to play with a few names and ask other people for their opinions. Just ask them what they truly think of your potential names. Do they have any negative associations? Do they think it reminds them too much of another large company? The closer the names are to your target customer, the better. Take some notes and think on it for a few days, but you should be the person who makes the final decision because it’s your business after all.

  • Practice saying the company name aloud

If your business name is a mouthful, it’s not going to stick. You want a business name that’s easy to pronounce and memorable. Think about how large companies are named like Amazon, Apple, Walmart, Netflix, Google, and Hulu. Names with more than four syllables, or with silent letters, can make your business less likely to catch on with your target audience.

  • See if the corresponding domain name is available

Customers are more tech savvy than ever before which means they’ll expect your business to have a website. However, the challenge is that most domain names are already taken so before you commit to a company name make sure to check if the corresponding domain name is available. You can also use a business naming company like Alter that offers a curated list of company names that are ready to go complete with a professional logo.

  • Keep it just the right length

Your business name should roll off the tongue easily and be easily mentioned in content online. For example, someone on Reddit looking for sportswear recommendations may get a reply that says, “I love getting my stuff from GymShark,” but they’re much less likely to say “I love getting my stuff from Fit Freak’s Fab Fitness Wear.” It has alliteration and says what they do, even with a feel for their branding, but it’s just too long. If they offer something incredible and their brand succeeds, people will call their brand Fit Freaks, but if not they’ll just disappear because it’s simply too long.

  • Remember that not every company name has to describe its purpose

You want your company’s name to reflect what you do, but you don’t necessarily have to present it to customers literally. Think of the most famous companies right now: do all of them describe what product or service they provide? Amazon isn’t based in the Amazon rainforest, Apple doesn’t sell actual apples, and IKEA is simply an acronym based on the founders’ names! If you have an idea that meets all the other criteria and you get good feedback on it, then feel free to pick a brand name that feels right for what you do. However, you may find it harder to gain traction for your brand.

  • Avoid using your hometown in your business name

Naming your business after the area you currently operate in may seem helpful in the early days, but what happens when your catchment area grows? You’ll either have to assume other trading names, or rebrand.

You may find yourself in a bottleneck in which you’ve stifled your growth and limiting yourself to remaining a regional company. You want your business to thrive, grow and expand, and if you end up opening new sites elsewhere or recruiting out-of-town team members, this may hinder your company’s development.

  • Consider your target market

This rule will vary from company to company and audience to audience. If you’re a specialist company whose customers will be knowledgeable about your product, this may afford you a little more leeway. But remember that the average customer doesn’t get contrived metaphors and isn’t fluent in Latin. Business names also differ within each industry; for example, a name that might work well for a creative company or branding firm might not work well for a joinery company or plumbing business. Ultimately, you want to choose a name that your customers can relate to and know its meaning.

  • Research your company’s market overseas

Research is an inevitable part of choosing your company’s name, but it can also be valuable when making sure not to offend anyone. We all remember the toothpaste brand Colgate’s controversy as some Spanish speakers claimed the company name loosely translated as something offensive. It’s always good to avoid offending people, especially as a startup!

  • Spell words in your company name correctly

It can be tempting to spell words starting with a “Q” with a “K” or replace an “F” with a “Ph”, but unless you have a large marketing budget, this may make things difficult. If you’re determined to choose an unusual letter to start your company name, be sure to pick one that has no linguistic value. Otherwise, customers may have a difficult time researching you. Using an x or missing out a vowel is popular nowadays, but make sure you only do this once toward the end of your name.

For example, “Publix” instead of “Publics” makes sense. “Scribd”, is pronounced that way, and so the spelling is fairly obvious. But something like “KureHlth” instead of “CureHealth” is confusing, and there’s really no reason to do so.

When choosing a business name, there are many things to consider. You want to pick something memorable and catchy that also depicts what sort of company you are. It’s not always easy to combine creativity with realistic pragmatism. Remember who you’re aiming your business at, have a solid idea of your branding and company aesthetic and keep it nice and clear.

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