What’s in a Business Name? Everything!

If you think back to the businesses that have stood the test of time, one thing probably stands out in your mind: their name! From Coca-Cola to Volkswagen, great names tell a story, connect with an audience, and represent the key values of a brand. According to Inc.’s Adam Fridman, a name can actually “make or break a company.” Your name is the first thing customers see about you so it needs to make an impact but it will also need to stand the test of time. To ace the naming game, keep these considerations in mind.

Legal Considerations Come First

You may have brainstormed the perfect name, but before designing your logo and other key branding aspects around it, ensure it is not already registered. As stated by NameStormers, you should never fall in love with just one name, “as it inevitably will be the one that has the big legal issue or that tests poorly with one of your key constituencies.” To see if someone else has beat you to the chase, enlist in the services of specialists in trademark and copyright law. This decision may save you considerable anguish in the long run. For instance, your chosen name may not be identical to one that is already registered, but if you use a copyrighted expression in your business name, you may find that you soon have to go right back to square one.

Choosing a Name with Wide Appeal

Your name doesn’t just have to appeal to your intended market. It also has to represent you well in everything from trade shows to networking functions and talks. Even if your audience is young (in the teen or tween sector), it should neither be too trendy nor so limited that it cannot stand on its own before audiences who are as yet unaware of what your business has to offer. Businesses expand and change; your name should therefore represent your core values and intentions, yet ideally be malleable enough in spirit to withstand key changes to your business. 

Invest in Research

Once you have narrowed down your choice of names, do the required research to determine if it is as catchy to your intended audience as it is to you. It is also worth enlisting the help of linguists, who can tell you if your name has any negative connotations in another language. Forbes gives an excellent example of a name that can go very wrong in another market: GM once named a new car model Nova, without knowing that the name means ‘doesn’t go” in Spanish. Run your list of names by trusted colleagues and mentors as well as your future customers; intellectuals will often spot a symbolic association or meaning that you may want to think twice about in the long run. 

Naming a business is one of the hardest tasks an entrepreneur has to undertake, since a name is a business’ entry point into professional circles and the first point of contact with your customers. A name should inspire you and your target audience, but also hold its own at conferences and other industry-related contexts. Don’t go at it alone and don’t settle on just one name from the outset. Use resources available to you to ensure your name is legally sound, visually appealing, and pleasant to say and hear. It should be dynamic but also solid enough to stand up to the passage of time and the changes that all businesses experience throughout their history.