How to name your business » SMEInsider

How to name your business

Choosing the right name for your fledgling company is one of the first major decisions you have to make. How do you pick something which accurately expresses who you are as a brand, that won’t need to be changed further down the line and, most importantly, hasn’t been snaffled up yet? By following our no-nonsense, five step guide, of course!

1. In the early days, you’ll spend a lot of time explaining what you do to sceptical investors and potential clients. Having a name that helps to speed up this process by helping to illustrate what you actually do will make life a lot easier.

Write down as many words as you can think of that describe what you do and the kind of company you are. Avoid anything complex, as well as geographical or specific product references that could make it difficult to branch out or relocate further down the line.

2. Now start to think about how you might combine or adapt these words into a brand name. A great resource to get you started is www.bustaname.com; type in your chosen words and the website combines them into suggested (and available) domain names.

If one jumps out at you, you could decide to use it in its entirety or strip it down to a few syllables to make it more memorable. You could also think about manipulating/changing the spelling of an existing word to create a unique name, in the style of Disqus or Acura.

3. Having chosen a short, memorable name, you now need to check that the company name and website are free. Start by running a quick check on the name using the Companies House webchecker. Then, make sure that the domain name is definitely available by searching for it at www.names.co.uk or uk.godaddy.com. If the .com site is taken, don’t just register it as a .co.uk or .net, as potential customers will inevitably get confused. Pick something else.

4. Before you go ahead and register the domain, you need to check that you’re not fighting with anyone else to be top of the search engine results. Search for your brand name in Google, Yahoo and Bing. Is the name used by anyone else or for anything significant? If so, you might want to go back to the drawing board. Plus, iff you’ve invented or amalgamated a word, this is also a good time to check that it doesn’t mean something entirely different (and potentially embarrassing) in another language – especially that of a country you may someday branch into! Forvo is a great resource for checking what words mean, as well as how they are pronounced, in multiple languages at once.

As Moonpig founder Nick Jenkins has explained, a unique name is so important that it can override other concerns: “What I was looking for was a name that had as few syllables as possible, had to be unique on Google, had to be phonetic and easy to represent in a graphic logo… and it had to be available as a domain name. One of the ones I threw in was my old nickname at school, Moonpig, and it just so happened that this ticked all the boxes and worked very well. I would rather not have used my nickname at school!”

5. Now that you’ve got a great name (or shortlist of names), step back take a final look at your chosen name, trying to be as objective as possible. Does it really reflect the image you want to project? Does it fit with what you do as a company? Crucially, will it appeal to your ideal customer base? There is no harm in taking a couple of weeks to really think about this and make sure you’re happy with it. After all, it will (hopefully!) soon become a household name.