Choosing a name for your small business

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Choosing a name for your small business can be a difficult task. You need something catchy that is also attractive, relevant, and unique. Because your business name is how customers will get to know you, it’s important that it be the very best it can be. In fact, your name may be actually holding you back. Here are a few guidelines for deciding if your small business name is right for you, or if it is time to go back to the drawing board.

Does it create a mental picture?

The best business names bring up certain images in people that hear them. This can be an important part of both your small business brand and your logo design. It also will make your name more memorable, which brings us to the next guideline…

Is it appropriate for your line of work?

The best small business names give people information about your line of work and the type of services and products that you are offering. Ideally, your line of work will actually be part of the name. They also are appropriate in emotional tone. For example, a martial arts center should not have a passive name, while a daycare should not have an aggressive one. You will need to think carefully about your business brand while you are selecting the right name.

Is it memorable?

This is certainly not an objective measure, so you may have to ask other people for their opinion. People should be able to remember your name after hearing it for the first time. This means it cannot be too conventional or, on the other hand, so unusual that it is difficult to grasp.

Is it easy to spell?

Your potential customers need to be able to find you in a phone book, and difficult spellings just make this more difficult. Also, many people are visual, and misspellings interfere with memorability for these groups. Especially avoid purposeful or cutesy misspellings—they just make you look uneducated and force you to spell the name repeatedly for ads and sign painters.

Does it have only positive associations?

Words often bring up emotions beyond their actual definition. Your business name needs to have positive associations that are congruent with the brand you are trying to promote. This will vary according to your target customer, your line of business, and your community. Again, it’s important to ask around to see what other people think.

Is it the right length?

The best business names are short—often, the shorter the better. This will make it easier to remember while also making it easier to design logos, letterhead, and signage. On the other hand, you may need a little length in order to indicate your industry and make your name memorable. If this is the case, consider adding a tagline.

Is it overly trendy?

You want to have this business for decades, so why would you choose a name that will sound dated in just a few years? Think of the long term and choose a name that will withstand the test of time.