Coming up with a catchy name for a business is easier said than done, and can often be one of the biggest early puzzles a would-be entrepreneur needs to solve before they can get their online business live.
While there are plenty of good articles offering advice about names for businesses in specific niches, such as this one from virtualphotographystudio.com for photographic businesses, there are some things that businesses in every niche need to think about when working through their shortlist of name ideas to come up with the perfect one:
If your business is locally focused, then you may think it is OK to use a business name another similar company is using somewhere else. Some of the more punny name types would fall into this category, or using a name that is pretty generic to the industry, like using words related to beauty for a salon or related to bread for a bakery. In general, nobody is going to sue you for calling your small local business in Texas the same thing they called their small local business in Australia.
Online, however, things are a bit different, and having the same name or a very similar name to another company will cause a lot of problems, even if you are far apart or offer different things.
Once you are sure nobody else has the same business name as you, it is important to check you can get a good domain name. While someone else may not be using your name as a commercial enterprise, there may be blogs or other sites using the simplest domain that would best represent your business – which is usually businessname.com.
While you can get around a domain name not being free by adding hyphens between words, putting a location (e.g. businessnamepasadena.com) or using your slogan instead of your name, and you also have the option to use extensions like ‘.biz’ or ‘.net’ rather than ‘.com’, these invariably confuse customers far more than having the web address they expect. In most cases, it is best to buy all of the close variations of your business name as domains if you can and have them all direct to your main site.
Your name is going to be a big part of your brand. In some cases, you can have a very unusual name that doesn’t have anything much to do with what you do (or even a made-up word), and it will still be extremely memorable if it fits your brand. Good examples of this include Google, Uber, Bumble and WhatsApp. It can sometimes be easier to create an online brand around a unique name than to try and fashion ‘Peter’s Cool T-Shirt Designs’ into a memorable brand in its field.
As you can see, there is more to deciding on the perfect name than just getting something that sounds good, so the best approach is to make a shortlist and test them all against these points.