Before you name your business: Joe Banker has some tips
How many of you are small-business owners and parents? I’ll bet more than a few hands just went up. So, you know how hard it can be to name a baby. “Jack” was your favorite uncle, but your spouse’s arch nemesis in third grade. Ethel was trendy yesterday, but is “so yesterday” today. (Disclaimer: Not based on Ethel research—just my example.)
Naming your other baby—your business—can be just as formidable a challenge. You want to choose something you can live with over time. That rolls off the tongue but also looks good in type. That’s available as a URL, and possibly for trademark. It’s a tall order!
Where does one start? With tips from Joe Banker, of course:
1. Can you relate? Your name should.
An awesome alias will reflect your brand’s positioning—what your business stands for, what it provides to customers, how it one-ups your competitors. Without this guidance, the name you choose will lack pertinence and punch.
2. Equity is built not born.
A name’s meaning isn’t defined by the name itself. Just as little “Jack” will eventually bring a whole new personality and history to his moniker, value in a business name is built over time as customers interact with your products or services, your sales and support teams, your marketing, etc.
Refer to this spectrum when planning how much you’ll invest to build equity in the name over time, and if you’re interested in trademarking it.
- Descriptive (National Public Radio, Miracle Grow): These names are easy for customers to understand, but are often lengthy and difficult to own and trademark.
- Suggestive (Dove, Visa): Based on an attribute, these names can help your customers understand your brand’s position. They’re easier to trademark than descriptive names, but require some investment to build meaning.
- Conjoined (Medtronic, Teavana): Built by combining two recognizable words, these names also fall in the middle of the spectrum.
- Fanciful names (Google, Kodak): These names are very ownable and easy to trademark, but because they don’t relate to your brand positioning—or to anything really—they require significant investment to build value.
3. Buy the URL.
Whether your business is currently online or not, DO plan on purchasing the name’s corresponding URL and possibly others that are similar to it. Shorter URLs are easier to remember, so if you choose a lengthy name, you may want to shorten it somehow for the web address. But I suggest keeping the name short from the get-go. That way the two can work together to reinforce awareness.
Joe Tip: Be sure to check how a multi-word name looks without spaces. Double letters and certain combinations can be hard to read—or create new words altogether!
4. Check the social rosters.
Double check that the name isn’t being used on the social networks you want to be in. An available URL doesn’t guarantee that the name you’ve fallen in love with isn’t being used socially.
5. Talk to a designer.
“But Joe,” you say, “we’re talking names, not logos.” True. But you’ll want your name to print well from tiny to tall. Common, of course are business cards and banners. But will you give away pens or other micro-must-haves at trade shows? Will you fabricate a building sign? A good designer can advise you.
6. Start brainstorming names!
Joe wants to know.
What inspired your company’s name? Any naming tips for fellow readers? Any success or horror stories about a business name you want to share?