Choosing a company name News & Opinion

Branding Your Business: Choosing A Company Name


Your Company Name Can Raise or Lower the Value of Your Brand

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” This oft-quoted line from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” highlights Juliet’s belief that someone’s quality matters more than what they’re called. And, while there’s undoubtedly some truth to that, a romance which ended with a double suicide that was the direct result of some family names might indicate that, at the very least, what you are known by has some importance.

This seems particularly true as it relates to a company’s name. The truth is that most people will form an opinion about you and your business based on how you’ve decided to brand yourself. You might need to deal with manure to grow the sweetest smelling roses, but if you want to make a living doing that, it would be wise to avoid naming your business “Uncle Dookie’s Nose Pleasures.” You could grow the best flowers in the world, but that particular brand name just sends the wrong message.

So, what’s the best way to go about branding your business? Here are some of the do’s and don’ts of choosing a company name.

10-Second Summary

  • Choose a name that makes a good first impression
  • Choose a name that holds onto your audience’s attention
  • Choose something memorable
  • After settling on a brand name, secure it
  • Things to avoid

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Your Business Name Should Make A Good First Impression

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, or so they say. Your company name is, for better or worse, the first thing that someone is likely to learn about your business.

Choosing a company name

Because of this, you’ll want the name of your company to point to the sort of services you offer as well as highlight the sort of character you want your business to be known for having. This also extends also to any logo and mission statements you come up with.

Choose Something Catchy

It’s likely that your company isn’t the only one in your area that does what you do, and one of the things that could set you apart from the masses is your company name. Make sure that your name stands out and that it’s easy to remember.

Generic, dull names aren’t your friends here, as anyone who might be looking you up could likely skip over your business without realizing it. Consider the name “AAA Lawn Service.” Is it exciting? Does it tell you anything? From this name, I can tell that it’s a lawn care service provider and that the owner wanted his name listed first in the phone book (which was probably not a bad strategy 20 years ago, but I wonder how advantageous it is in the internet age). But, perhaps this company name could be more descriptive. For instance, “Complete Lawn and Landscaping” tells me the services provided, it’s easy to remember, and as a customer, it paints a positive picture of the job I can expect to be done.

Make It Memorable

Spend some time coming up with your company’s name. Research your general location to see if there’s anything similar to your idea. Workshop the name with people you trust. Since a large part of your business could come from referrals, you’ll want your business name to be easy to remember and share. Forgettable names make for a forgettable business, but something that’s easy to remember and easy to say will pay dividends when your existing accounts refer new business to you.

Choosing a company name

After Choosing Your Company Name: Lock It Down

When you’ve finally settled on a catchy name that captures the essence of your business, there are a few things you can do to make sure it stays unique to you.

The first thing is to conduct a thorough internet search for your company name. It is entirely probable that, if the name is good and direct, someone else might have thought of it first. It might not be a dealbreaker for your name, but you also might find that it would benefit your business more to find another name.

If you’ve settled on your name, it wouldn’t hurt to run a search at USPTO.gov to find out if you can get a trademark or service mark for your company name.

You’ll likely structure your new business as a corporation or LLC, which means that you should also run a search of the Secretary of State’s records to find out if your business name sounds like a pre-existing business that’s already registered. If your name sounds too similar to another business’s name, the Secretary of State could deny your registration.

A website can be a very helpful tool in growing your business. You might choose to build one, but you’ll need to secure the domain name. While you have a few options for domain extensions (.net, .org, .site), it has been argued that customers tend to associate .com names with businesses that have been established for a while. To check the availability of your preferred domain name, visit sites like GoDaddy.com.

Choosing a company name

You might also choose to grow your business through social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

General Things To Avoid

You’ll want to avoid strange spellings. A fair amount of your business could likely come from internet searches or from someone thumbing through a phone book. You don’t want to miss out on potential income because you decided that an alternate spelling of a target word would set you apart. Basically, you want to make sure that your company is easy to locate in a directory.

Avoid a name that could limit you if your business expands. If you offer a lawn service, but could likely move into tree service or landscaping at some point, you probably shouldn’t name your business “TruCuts Mowing Service.” In this case, your name would eliminate the possibility of you offering anything else but mowing in a potential customer’s mind.

Stay away from a company name that could potentially make people run from your business. Sure, you want your company name to stand out memorably, but rude or offensive company names will alienate large portions of a potential customer base.

You should probably avoid names that don’t convey any sort of meaning, or names that convey the wrong meaning. Avoid boring or generic names. Arbitrary, boring, and generic names are forgettable, and being forgettable is bad for business.

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Final Thoughts

Choosing your company name can take a good amount of time and work to come up with, and maybe it should. After all, names and titles are important. If you choose the right one, you can telegraph confidence and competence before ever actually meeting a potential client. If people form opinions about things based on names, choosing a strong, descriptive company name can psychologically point them in the right direction from the outset and, ultimately, raise the value of your business.

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