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Picking the right name for your business

So you have given it thought, you have conquered your personal fears and you’ve made that decision; it’s time to start a business. Now the question is, what do you name it?

Picking a business name is one of the most crucial procedures of the effective branding process. Most people take this part of the process for granted and fail to appreciate how much it affects their business process. Today I want to share a short 5 step process that can help you pick the right name for your business.

Qualities of a goods business name

Individual and distinct. Pick a new distinct name that will separate you from your competition. The key power of a brand is in its ability to separate itself from its competition. This means that your name must be new, it must sound new, and it should not be generic, too descriptive or appear to be similar to another. Not only will it make you seem original or individual but it will keep you from the court. Please also note I said distinct, not descriptive. Brands such as eBay, Amazon, Blockbuster Videos, would be more effective than names like Data Technologies, General dealers, IT designs Company and many other names that are too generic or descriptive. Please note that not all descriptive names are wrong if used well a descriptive business name could yield better results than most. You could choose to name a brand “Burgers for Sale” which is boring, bland, descriptive and frankly annoying or you could name it “Burger King” which is descriptive yet powerful.

The shorter the better. As a brand, you want to be memorable. You want your clients to be able to repeat your name and mention it to their friends. Do not make it complicated and excruciating for your clients to pronounce your name. Avoid complicated words that are hard to pronounce or spell, also avoid stretched names that could almost become sentences. I’ve done re-branding for some companies and their names are so complicated you need spell-check when you type their domains. Nike, Apple, Google and Nokia are examples of simple business names, I believe that two syllables are enough when it comes to a business name, anything more than that becomes too much.
Creative and Interesting. People are in love with words, especially the sounds that words make. I personally love the sound I make when I say Mercedes, it rolls off my tongue and it completely describes how that brand makes me feel about its products. Creativity is one of the most important elements of a good name. It should be interesting, combine two words or ideas, misspell a word, and invent a word. Customers value interesting brands that try to distance themselves from the competition. They also value that you took the time to put creative work in this process of your business. Some companies took two boring concepts and made one beautiful one like “Intelligent Chip Company” into “Intel Corp”. You must remember that, the human mind is more responsive to sounds than to letters and words. Say your business name out loud and evaluate how it sounds to you before you let the world hear it.
Absent Boundaries. Most entrepreneurs would ideally name a company after themselves, this is a typical death-trap for a good brand name, because in the event that you want to sell your company a new owner would have a problem using your personal name. Avoid names that are bound by geographical locations or countries. You cannot name your business “South Africa’s Car Repairs Service”, not only will it be confusing when your business expands out of South Africa but it will limit your product line in the future. The brand is an evolving concept, like any organism your business will grow and eventually change. Your brand name is an asset to the brand and it would be a pity if you lost that asset because your business evolved into a different direction. When you choose a name, make sure that it is absent boundaries.
Visualize it. When you have run through the process of your business name lastly let the sound translate to picture. When you close your eyes and say it, what picture shows up in your mind? Toys R Us totally makes sense in those kiddies’ colours, if you were to put those colours on Microsoft, it wouldn’t quite work the same. Colours become the next part of the name process. Red is an aggressive colour, it denotes passion, aggression, anger, and love. White is serene, peaceful, corporate and classy. Green is growth, renewal, and nature. When you begin to use colours, they enforce what you already see in your brand name.

Lastly: Pick a name that you believe in, you need to have a name that motivates you. Pick something that you love. Don’t test your business name with your friends and family, they already love you and they most likely have a bias towards your preference. It would be even better to ask a few strangers because they will most likely give you an honest, neutral opinion.

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