What’s In a Company Name?

It’s the biggest decision for new beginnings…or is it? Choosing a company name.

You’ve been deliberating for donkey’s years over what to call your new business. Likewise, you’ve debated it with “dog-walking” Dave, had a few brainstorming sessions with “in the brand business” Brenda…but it’s a one-time decision you can’t afford to get wrong. Right?

Well, in truth, we all give ourselves a hard time over naming a company. What if it’s not hip enough? What if it doesn’t imply what our business does? Have we figured out if it’s offensive in another language? There are indeed a million and one things that you could consider.

Accordingly, we thought we’d try to make it easier for you and give you the top five things you should avoid doing before spending money on registration.

1. Don’t get hung up on one idea.

Brainstorm a number of different routes. Are you going for a corporate vibe…or a more personal one?

Likewise, use acronyms, combine or mash-up keywords which represent your brand, use initials, or even consider mythology. Similarly, find dictionary words that feel like a good fit. Use a different spelling from a dictionary word…as long as there’s a logical reason to do so.

2. Don’t contradict your brand values.

You need a strong match. Similarly, you can’t be world’s apart from the ethos of your company.

Don’t pick a name that misrepresents all the things you stand for. Even if it’s a gag, audiences probably won’t get it. However…

3. Don’t assume quirky is bad.

There are hundreds of good brands with crazy names. They are just confident in who they are, and they market well to their audience.

Weird Fish, Fat Face, Sweaty Betty…these are all examples that ventured a little off the beaten path in their naming but have made it in the retail world.

4. Don’t get too long-winded.

One-word names are always considered more desirable, more punchy. The likes of Nike, IKEA, Google, Apple, and Samsung are some of the largest, most successful brands in the world.

However, for us mere mortals, the two- or three-word names just add a bit more to your story. Essentially, the combined result usually equals a much stronger brand meaning. Examples include Urban Outfitters, The North Face, British Airways, Red Letter Days, and Pizza Express.

5. Don’t stop your branding work before the job is 100% done.

Don’t think you’ve nailed it until you’ve done your research. You’ll need to tick off all of the following items.

Check your regional word safety.

You don’t want to launch with anything offensive! WordSafety.com is a good website to begin a basic check across all languages.

Even if you’re just U.S. or U.K.-based, remember there is a large audience out there who don’t just speak English. It’s best to avoid any mocking or upset before you’ve even begun.

Check that you can use the intended name legally.

Make sure you can use your choice with the appropriate state for U.S.-based companies and at Companies House for U.K.-based companies.

Any name which is too similar to one already listed may cause you copyright issues and may not be permitted to be registered.

Check that your chosen domain name is available and affordable.

The better the name, the more expensive it usually is.

Those .com short punchy addresses are akin to gold dust these days. If available, they are usually expensive. Consider what you really need. Weigh the pros and cons carefully.

Check that you can get social media handles.

On social media platforms, pick something which closely matches your company/brand name.

The likelihood is you won’t be able to have them all exactly the same across platforms or exactly the same as your company name.

The important thing is that when clients search for you, your company is easy to find amongst the masses. As a result, using a handle which makes sense will pay dividends.

Once you’ve avoided these common pitfalls…be realistic!

You will most likely have to compromise along the way.

It is hugely unlikely that you’ll have an epiphany which provides you with the perfect name which isn’t taken by someone else in some capacity. You’ll just have to work out what’s most important to you and what you’re willing to compromise on.

In truth, everyone places a huge emphasis on a company name. The reality is, assuming you’ve avoided the pitfalls listed above, no company will fail exclusively because of its name. Likewise, success is driven by the impact of the execution of what comes next. That is where your story begins.

Ready? Set? Name that brand.