The Secrets Of Choosing A Good Business Name

Witty is Good, but Will People Know What You Do?

You finally have decided to take the plunge! You’ve been contemplating this for a long time, and now the time is perfect to start your own business. You just know the prospects and possibilities are endless.  

But what will you call it?

Choosing an effective name for your business can be as crucial as the service or product you supply. So important in fact that it can either make or break a business, sending you into forever
obscurity or featured on the front page of your local paper.

Here are a few suggestions when you are first brain-storming your new business name.

Go get you a fresh cup of coffee, and sit down with a pencil and paper. Make yourself a list of a dozen or two names. You probably already have mulled over a few in your head.  Start with those. 

And remember, witty is good, but if people can’t figure out what you do, it is pointless.

Try to think of names that will describe your business and make it easy for people to know what you do, like …
  • Legacy Tractor Repair
  • Peterson Publishing
  • 2 Day Blinds
  • Gerkeson Farms
  • I-64 Feed & Seed
Notice how these though may leave one scratching their head …
  • MidWest Inc.
  • Changing Seasons
  • MurLon
  • MJT Products
  • Pebblestone
Are they a product based business?  Or do they provide a service?  How would one know? An effective name should communicate right off the bat what expertise is offered and reassure the customer this is precisely what they have been looking for.

The name ‘Changing Seasons’ is actually a gift shop, and I love that name. It conjures up beautiful fall-like images in my head of orange and red leaves falling from trees and cascading across the grass.  

But my first impression was that maybe it was a winterizing or an HVAC service. Maybe a guest ranch?  Or a garden center?

Using Personal Names in your Business Title

A lot of folks want to use their name in their business. Which I think is great, as long as you also add some description afterwards, like Gerkeson Farms. 

Experts have recommended not to use just initials. True it’s not very imaginative, but if you feel that’s best for your company, at least add some description in there.  For instance, ‘MJT Products’ would be more effective as ‘MJT Woodworking’. Or ‘MidWest Inc’ might be ‘MidWest Signs’.
Also be cautious about tagging your business to a specific location, like Blue Hills Cantina & Grill.  If later on down the line, you think you might move the business, or open a second or third location, the name might sound out of place.

Now Start Eliminating

Once you have your list made, set it aside for a couple of days and then drag it back out.

You will probably snicker at some that you wrote down. That’s okay. Your creative processes were cranking. 

Now start eliminating – the worst or silliest out first. Continue until you get down to half a dozen, maybe even 2 or 3 of your very favorites.

Share those with your most trusted friends and family. Ask them to read them out loud and to be honest.

So…what does that mean anyhow?
Monitor their reactions by watching their faces as they read. First impressions are very important!
Without their even knowing it, their facial expressions will be wonderfully revealing. It will be obvious when they come across something they think sounds screwy. 
But you will also be able to tell when they read something they really like. Watch the brow … it’s a dead giveaway! Notice Grandma’s in the picture.  
Then ask them:

  • Do they think the name will reveal to new customers the true nature of the business?
  • Does it roll off the tongue, or is it difficult to say? 
  • Not too many of one letter – like Business Assist (that was mine, and it was hard even for me to say – arghh).
  • Is it too long or confusing?

What’s In a Name

Okay, so now that you have narrowed it down to just one, and you are sure that it is the one, do a trademark search.
You may have to enlist the help of a trademark attorney or trademark search firm to ensure you are not taking someone else’s name. The other company may tend not be too happy about your using it too, and it can get expensive un-doing the damage.
Also, most likely you will need to register the name with your State.

If you don’t know how to do that, call your Office of the Secretary of State. Google searching is a good way to find their name and email address, and be sure to follow up with that requirement.

Hanging out your shingle or new company sign for the first time can be exciting. If you did your research and followed all the legal rules, it just could be the honey that will draw in your bees.

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Susie is a Midwestern (USA) girl, born and raised in Kansas, who now lives in Missouri. Her company, Rural Woman Enterprises, comprises both this website/blog along with three Etsy shops: CountryChicshoppe, SaveTheWildHorseCrea, and KnobSnobbery.
She has been married and raised 11 children (6 of them step children).
Her passion is writing, both fiction and nonfiction. And one of her most important passions is the protection of America's wild horses who now face great threat to their safety and numbers, perhaps even extinction.