How important is choosing the right name for your business?

I am the co-founder of a new startup that helps forecast career path opportunities for young professionals depending on their current position. I have yet to come up with a name.

I have been so hesitant to choose because I've read that choosing an ultra-common name or too unique of a name can hurt a company's visibility.

Am I overthinking this? Has your company's name played a role in the success of your business?

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8

I do not think you are over thinking it. If you can name your company based on what you provide that digests down into a good acronym you serve a number of purposes:
1. Your brand advancement
2. Marketing
3. Stickiness
4. Your tag line

If you ever plan to sell the company, don't name it after yourself.

For example, I will use my own company naming process.

We build collaborative and cooperative work communities which spark real success for organizations based on cooperative behaviors. I knew from the start that my company would produce modules and offerings for companies and nonprofits. My company's birth came from 4 years of validated research into principles that build high performance teams and collaborative work communities. Our findings produced the following 6 principles - trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success.

Though research, our original word, authenticity, morphed into genuineness based on what people understand as behavior. Authenticity also showed up as a sub set of trust and proved to be a synonym for transparency. .

The result was TIGERS(R) Success Series.

Gather a group of people you trust and facilitate a naming ceremony. We didn't come up with TIGERS until we started pushing the principles around like a game. When TIGERS(R) emerged, then the group burst into creativity around what that means to organizations that chew up an spit out employees because their behavior and work cultures are SO bad. Perhaps you have worked for a few of those yourself. Thing also of your naming group as your sounding board. Pull in people with diverse skill sets that you can talk to for bouncing ideas off of. Make sure they are very different from your own leadership style.

Anyway, that is my two cents worth.
Dianne Crampton

7

Naming is very important - it can make marketing your business very expensive or very cost effective. Establishing a brand name early on and then needing to change it downstream only increases the cost of marketing your company. The challenge these days with naming is also finding an available URL - more difficult than finding a name.

If you haven't done any branding exercises I suggest you take the time to determine what your brand values should be and what that means for your brand "personality." It might seem fluffy to spend time on this but the exercise will help you determine the type of name you should have (descriptive vs. made up). It also serves to rally your team and makes it easier to make other decisions related to the look and feel of your marketing materials.

Below are some tools you can use to help with this:

Brand Statement
For international travelers who want to simplify the time investment in logistics planning for complex vacations while ensuring optimal travel experiences[target], {company name} is the first provider to deliver a one stop travel site to plan, optimize, organize, book and experience international travel [competitive frame] that leverages in depth, travel expert tested itinerary templates and best available pricing through consolidator partnerships [points of difference] to deliver an effortless experience before, during and after the trip[target’s goal].

Brand Attributes
Effortless
Our expert designed and tested itinerary templates take all the work out of planning international travel especially for multi-city travel.
Trusted
Our full-time travel experts constantly review and optimize our itineraries to ensure that you will have a memorable travel experience making the most of every destination.
Comprehensive
We offer a single point solution to research, plan, book, organize, enjoy and share your vacations. Our in-country support is there to help you should there be any unexpected hiccup in your travel arrangements.
Global
We utilize local travel experts in every region of the world to design the optimal travel experience for the new traveler to the locale
Flexible
Our travel itinerary templates provide a baseline for travelers to customize their own vacations. We actively listen to customer feedback to continually improve and expand our itineraries.
Organized
Our comprehensive travel planning solutions integrates all your travel components into one booking engine including all the travel documents you need for your trip effortlessly saved to your mobile device.

Value Proposition
{company name}is the most complete, simple and value oriented solution for planning, booking, optimizing and experiencing a vacation. {company name} delivers expert recommended, consumer endorsed vacation itineraries from the weekend getaway to a long holiday for the trip of a lifetime where ever you choose to go.

Customer Promise
{company name} ensures an effortless experience planning, booking and enjoying your vacation . We take the time and effort out of realizing your perfect trip- you won’t miss one important highlight on your vacation.

6

The one thing that is very important is making sure your desired name is not taken by someone else. There is a lot more to a business than a name and brand. It's the people who help make everything successful that matters. If it's available, I would visit your local library because several have services that can help you determine whether any of the names you may want to use are taken.

Business Entity Search for Illinois:
http://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/

6

As a trademark attorney, I have to second what Larry Launstein Jr advised below - whatever name you pick, make sure that it is available, meaning not being used by any other business that could be even remotely related to your business anywhere in the U.S. (or whichever country you will be located in). You should have a trademark attorney conduct a trademark clearance search on any name that you are about to select as your final choice. As a preliminary means of checking the availability of the name, and probably also its meaning and popularity, you can start by searching the internet for any name you would consider. You should review the US Patent and Trademark Office website at www.uspto.gov for resources on legal issues about selecting, adopting and registering a mark and also for a search of their database of registered and applied-for marks.

From a legal standpoint, the more unique and unrelated to the goods/services that the mark is, the stronger and more protectible the mark will be. But I understand that there may be some marketing and business guidelines that disagree with that.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

5

Hi Becca ~

Someone asked a question about business naming last year, and it received a huge number of useful responses: http://www.mosaichub.com/answers/question/what-are-some-guidelines-i-should-follow-to-naming

Happy branding!
Amara

5

You are over thinking it...Think about the names of famous companies, Amazon, Apple Computers, Starbucks, Boeing, IBM...What meaning do any of these names have? Some are names of people (Boeing), some have the product as part of the name and others come from mythology. The key to all these company's success is the messaging that goes with the name. If you're succinct with your message and you can reach your audience, you will be successful. The name provides something that we call you and represents an opportunity to help differentiate yourself. My company name is SDM Marketing, my initials and what I do. Keep it simple and worry more about your messaging, if that's strong, people will take note and remember your name.

5

You have some great answers here. One other suggestion I will make is to actually "test" your choices in front of your target clients. You have a well-defined target client description. List your top choices and then use/poll those people to help you narrow your message and branding. If you want to attract these specific people, find out specifically what attracts them.

5

The company name is the brand and often the image. For an early stage firm, I would suggest leaving room to evolve.

For instance, I am working with a second stage software client going through a dilemma. The company was named after a unique feature of their first release. Though the product and market is viable, prospects are lukewarm on that particular feature so it is not always a great thing to be tied to. Also, in planning their second release, the new product does not relate at all to the name.

Best of success.

5

Hi Becca - you are correct...you are over thinking it.

Apple...what has the name got to do with computers? Yet they are very successful.

Molly Maids...okay, successful residential cleaning...the name "Maids" is in their name...but what does "Molly" have to do with it.

One more...McDonalds...a couple of brothers flipping burgers. Is McDonalds successful because of it's name?

You can pick a name that is relevant to the industry (customer) that you serve (i.e.: Richards Professional Career Services) or you can pick a name that isn't, like MosaicHUB ;-)

The name of your company will not guarantee your success no more then it will guarantee your failure.

My business name is Vested Interest Group. I can't say that it played a role in my success at all. People buy ME, not the name of my company. My business is a few years old. Maybe in 15 years when I have global brand recognition, my name will matter...but right now, in my relative infancy, nope, my business name is far from relevant.

What IS relevant...more than the name of your business...your purpose, mission and values. These three things are a thousand times more critical than the name of your business.

Have questions...please connect.

Cheers - Vince

4

The company name, slogan and company colors are the three most important choices you will make. The name should give a general description of what you do, the slogan narrows that down and the colors have psychological meaning so you need to make sure from research they are saying what you want your customers and suppliers to feel about your company. Make strong choices.

I think Rick has struck all the Key Elements here! It does depend on the business you are in and what you are doing.

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