Action plan: naming your business

…Picking A Name For Your Start-up

So you’ve decided to set up your own business. You’ve done your business plan, SWOT and marketing analysis, decided on what your core products or services are going to be and how you are going to promote and sell them. The final piece of the jigsaw is a company name. Whether you business is online or more traditional, its name is more important than you might think. It has to be unique and not infringe any copyright. It has to be memorable and perhaps most importantly, it has to be the very essence of your business as it is from your name (and possibly tag-line) that your brand will develop.

First Impressions

It is important to remember that the name of your business has a strong effect on promoting the overall image of your business. Consider that when you look up a business in the business directory or yellow pages, quite often all that will be displayed is the name of the company and its telephone number, so some potential customers will be making a decision on whether to contact you based on how they interpret your name. Even on a Google search, your company name will feature prominently with a snapshot of other information. That’s why it is so important to get your name right, as this can make a real difference in the early days, especially when the business itself hasn’t had much time to build a real reputation and customers do not yet recognise your brand.

Company Image

It is worth taking the time to really consider what your company image or personality is going to be. Is it going to be a fun, cutting edge personality or perhaps a formal more professional image?
A comedic name may seem like a great idea at first, but if you are providing more serious services, such as, accountancy or legal advice, you might want to think again. For example the name “Curl Up and Dye” (although done to death) is a pretty funny name for a hairdressers. It is memorable and noticeable on the high street and the hair industry is often built on passing trade and reputation, so you may feel you can afford to be humorous.
However it is worth remembering that you will have to live with whatever name you choose. Make sure you are comfortable introducing yourself and your company with your chosen name and indeed answering the phone. The 100th time you greet a customer with “hello, Curl Up and Dye, how can I help you?” you might find the humour wearing thin.
You also need to put yourself in the position of your customers. Having a quirky name for your hairdresser is quite fun, having a quirky name for your accountant or pharmacist may not be. For example and accountancy called “Crunch, Crunch, Crunch” may not fill you with masses of confidence in there services, while if they were called “Abacus Accounting” or “ J Williams and Associates” you might feel more secure.

The Meaning Of Names

Another thing to consider is how much information you want your name to convey. Family names, such as the example above, tend to give an impression of longevity, traditional values and dependability, however they do not really tell your customer anything about what it is your business actually does. This isn’t necessarily a problem if you are then able to build up a strong brand presence around the company. Other companies, however, want a fresher more modern stance or a more memorable name that will help build their brand from the go and pick a name that is related to their trade. This can be done by simply having what you do in the title e.g. “ Armadillo Accountants” or “Dingles Spa” or by choosing a name that relates to your product or service such as “Abacus” for accountants, “Converge” for outsourced office solutions or telecoms etc. That way anyone seeing your name in the phone book, online or in the high street instantly knows what it is you do or offer.

Thinking Of Names

With the above in mind, it is now worth coming up with some name ideas for your business. You may already have some ideas, however if you find you are struggling a good brainstorming session always helps. Remember in brainstorming you should write down every idea you have, regardless of how good it is, to get it out of your system and get the creative juices flowing. Once you have finished, go through the list and pick out maybe 3 or 4 that are your favourites and do a mini SWOT analysis on them to see which names actually achieve what you want for your brand.
If you are struggling to think of anything, do some competitor research and see what they are calling themselves and think how their names make you feel. Clearly copying any of your competitors names should be avoided due to copyright and other legal issues, but seeing what sort of names work best in the business, can really help you narrow down your choices or come up with new ideas.

Online Presence

To some this will be their whole shop door, while to others this will be a valuable form of marketing to drive customers their way.
The name of your company has an effect on the search engine ratings and it might be worth considering maximising your name’s potential to appear on the first page. Google can help with this; Google Analytics (which is free and fairly easy to use) has a tool where you can see trends in searched words and phrases. For example, it will show you that someone looking for bookkeeping services in Wrexham may have searched for “bookkeepers Wrexham”, “Bookkeeping services” “Bookkeeping consultants” etc. Google Analytics gives you a wealth of useful information, such as, most searched for words by location/globally and what terms have seen the most increase in number of searches recently. It is worth considering whether you want to use one of these most searched terms in your company name to boost its visibility on the search engines.
Your website will also play an important role in your marketing and you will want to get a website address that is as close to your company name as possible and ideally covering as many of the URL locations you can (such as and .com). The easiest way to check the availability of a website name is to go on one of the many online hosting companies and use their availability checker to see if your website is available. This may have an effect on your final choice of name, as if you cannot get the page associated with it without making it complex, or if there is someone else using a similarly named page that is offering similar services (or worse something unpleasant), then you might want to think again. Bear in mind that your email address will often come from your website, for example will probably own the email addresses *** .

Ensuring Your Company Name Is Available

When you are registering your company with Companies House they will only allow you to register names that are not already in use by another company on the register.
A search on their online register WebCHeck  reveals companies with similar names in the UK and if your name is available. If you are not UK based there should be an equivalent service in your country. It is worth checking out any company with a similar name to see what they do and whether their existence will have any effect on you being called a similar thing. It is also worth checking out by googleing the name, or by using other country’s registers, whether anyone has copyright over any part of your name, or of a similar brand offering a similar service. This due diligence could save you a fortune in copyright infringement court cases when someone thinks your name is too close to theirs.
So all in all naming your startup is a big decision and as you can see not one to be rushed.