12 Reasons Your Business Name Matters
If you have just started your own business and gone through all the headaches involved, you may think naming it will be a piece of cake. On the contrary, naming your business can be the most difficult part of being a business owner. How do you find a name that is memorable, accurately represents your business, and will bring in sales?
Your business name is the most important choice you can make for your company. It will play a significant role in advertising your brand, growing your sales, and enticing new talent. Choose the wrong business name, and your company could suffer or even go out of business. Think Uber, Google, Nike, and Apple – they all started with a name.
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Words Matter, So Your Business Name Matters
Everyone knows that words have power, and that includes the word or words you will choose to incorporate as your business name. Below are seven reasons why your business name matters. If your name is too vague, complicated, offensive, or just plain weird, all of the hard work you did to build your business will be lost. It is all in a name.
- First impressions matter when developing your business name
- Your business name builds and maintains your brand
- Your business name can actually communicate your business strategy
- Your name establishes your uniqueness
- Your business name will help increase your sales
- Entice new talent to your company through your business name
- A business name is the foundation of your legal trademark
- The wrong business name can destroy your company
Your business name needs to create your identity, be memorable and eye-catching, and represent the branding behind your business. This is why there are so many things to consider before you choose your business name, put it on your sign, purchase your website’s domain name, and start advertising your company. In the end, words matter.
First Impressions Matter When Developing Your Business Name
Your business name will be the first thing potential customers will see, and first impressions matter. Your business name is comparable to that first handshake during a business meeting – it will say more about you in a few seconds and make a more powerful impression than your website, brochure, or sales pitch afterwards.
Your business name not only needs to be both memorable and meaningful but also immediately help you stand out in the crowd of other companies like you. The brand name will help potential customers remember you after they are no longer viewing your advert, brochure, or web page. The more distinctive your name, the more they will remember you or not.
Your first impression is important not only to customers but also potential investors, and partners. Investors choose to work with a business they believe in and see potential, and that will not occur with a mismanaged, convoluted, or sloppy brand name. They will not have faith in your business if your brand name leaves a bad first impression.
If you choose to partner with anyone down the road, your first impression will also be crucial. You are asking someone to join forces with your company, invest their own money and time, and even put their name alongside yours. You may not find the right fit if you first do not make a proper first impression that illustrates exactly who you are.
Your Business Name Builds and Maintains, Your Brand
Your overall brand will play a massive role in building your business’s success. And, since your brand is essentially your customer’s general perception of your business, your name is key to building and maintaining that successful brand. If accomplished properly, your brand will represent the following items all through a great name:
- The purpose and mission of your business
- What your business stands for in your respective industry
- What makes you different from and better than your competitors
The right business name will help build your brand and rise above your competitors. It is the representation of your brand’s identity, and, if done incorrectly, it can negatively impact the way you and your brand are perceived by potential customers. Just think, you will spend your business’s money on print marketing, advertising, sales, and customer service.
These monies will not be well-spent if your business name undermines all the hard work, you achieved branding your business. Why would you take the time to develop a brand strategy, build your brand identity, and then market these features if your name weakens or does not communicate your brand effectively? A name matters in branding.
Here is a case study you might find interesting about how we helped Bluestone Group create a new brand name for their ground-breaking fintech services business.
Your Business Name Can Actually Communicate Your Business Strategy
Your business name also matters because it will help communicate the business strategy you worked so hard to produce. First, ask yourself the following questions and then see if your business name encompasses the strategy you developed to ensure these needs are being met:
- Who is our target audience?
- What are our company’s mission, values, and beliefs?
- Who is our competition, and what makes us better, and different from them?
- How can you ultimately stand out in the crowd?
The three questions above are key to a properly developed business strategy, so your name should help answer these questions. If you are a bank, your mission is probably to communicate pragmatism and conservatism, while an amusement park’s mission is fun and enjoyment in a safe environment. Their names should encompass those beliefs.
If you are developing your name for a new venture and have your business strategy in place, you will need to focus on the ultimate goals of your company. What is the brand you are trying to build, how does it feed into your mission, values, and beliefs, and how does it tie to your target audience? It really is what you want people to know about you.
Your business strategy also focuses on how you will stand out in the sea of competition. A business name matters because it helps customers distinguish you from others. So many markets are over-saturated with businesses from which to choose, so your name will be the first thing someone will see to decide between you and the competition.
Speaking of Your Industry – Your Name Establishes Your Uniqueness
Since one of your main goals in the business world is to distinguish why you are better than your competitors, your name is important in establishing this uniqueness in your respective industry. Why should a customer choose you over the many other competitors that provide the same services? In the end, it is all in your business name.
A customer will ultimately choose you over your competitor because of the character your company represents through your business name. You already know how to brand your company through marketing and advertising, but what is behind that brand is the name stamped on your print, digital, and outdoor materials. It makes you distinctive.
Your name is important to your uniqueness within your industry because it is essentially your brand’s identity as a whole. Just think about how individuals look for products. They do a Google search for a product, review the numerous companies that come up based on the industry, and start clicking away on the websites that entice them.
If your business name does not illustrate your uniqueness in the industry crowd, any branding, marketing, and advertising will have gone to waste. Your business name matters because it establishes why you stand out of the crowd and will be a competent and trustworthy company to work with now and in the future.
Your Business Name Will Help Increase Your Sales
If your name helps build your brand and becomes familiar in people’s minds, it will help increase your business’s sales. Just think, people are more likely to Google your name, visit your Facebook page, or find your location to pop inside if they positively remember your business name. This will transform into extra sales for you.
Even a general Google search on a specific product could direct someone to your site if they remembered something helpful and confident about your business name. An inadequate brand name could cause you to miss out on potential sales simply because someone was not tempted to click on the button that leads them to your website.
If you want to increase your sales through your business name, you will lure customers to your site. Your name has the power to allow people to find you, recommend you, and continue shopping with you. It will influence potential customers to become loyal customers down the road, all because they trusted your business name.
You may be thinking, I have the perfect business model that will guarantee an increase in sales, so why does my business name matter? Yes, your business model is important in assuring sales down the line, but this model will not work if you do not first have a name that entices individuals to even check out the model in the first place.
Entice New Talent to Your Company through Your Business Name
Your business name is important to entice investors, customers, and sales to your company. However, it also plays a vital role in attracting new, competent, talented employees to your business. Your business is only as successful as the people involved, which is why you want to attract the best of the best through your brand name.
What do individuals look for in a career? This is what you should ask yourself when you analyse what your business name represents about you and your company. A respectable and trustworthy business name will stand out when potential employees are searching through job sites looking for that next career venture, including the following:
- Does your business name promote your company’s values that line up with the job seeker?
- Does it attract individuals whose principles and ethics align with your business’s principles and ethics?
- Does it represent what your company does within the industry properly and clearly?
- Does your name stand out enough for people searching for a new career?
The right business name will help attract the right employees to your organisation, who will, in turn, further develop a positive reputation for your business. Get your name wrong, however, and it could be disastrous in the world of job hunting when there are so many companies vying for the perfect employee to invest in for the long term.
Attracting the right talent is just one more reason why investing the time and money into developing your business name matters for the future of your company. You will ultimately invest in the time it takes to train your employees. Why not first invest in your brand name so that you do not waste time training the wrong individuals down the road?
A Business Name is the Foundation of Your Legal Trademark
Once you have chosen your business name, you will more than likely want to trademark it so that it is protected legally. If you do not trademark your name, you are making yourself liable to someone stealing your business’s name you worked so hard to invent or being sued by another business owner who legally trademarked the same name.
Trademarking your business name is also important if you ever want to franchise or sell your business. You may not be thinking about expanding today, but you never know how successful your business will become. You may end up wanting to expand, and that is when a registered trademark is essential to protect your company.
As soon as you finalise your business’s name, you should check to see if it has already been trademarked by visiting https://www.gov.uk/search-for-trademark to complete a search of trademarks in the United Kingdom. This quick and easy step will help to protect you and help you to ensure that no one has thought of the same name.
If you come up with a name that is too common, you may be disappointed to find it is already being used. A unique name that represents your brand will more than likely be free. Once you register your trademark, you can put the registered trademark symbol ® alongside your brand name and announce to the world that your branding is protected.
The Wrong Business Name Can Destroy Your Company
Just like a business name matters in your company’s success, it also matters in your company’s failure. Choosing the wrong company name can destroy the hard work you put into building up your business and brand in the first place. You can either choose a name to elevate you above the competition or cripple you under them.
For example, a company called “Bodega” was launched in 2017 by two ex-Google employees that would have a five-foot cabinet with glass doors to house numerous convenience store items. A customer could simply download their app, and then the cameras inside the box would track their spending and charge their credit card.
Although they stated the name stemmed from a classic grocery store that was on the corners of major cities, it ended up being dubbed the worst-named startup that year because it also had some negative cultural context behind it. In the end, the choice of a name ended up destroying the company before the creators even saw it coming.
Other companies who realised sooner their name would not work and changed it for a variety of reasons include:
- Qwikster to Netflix
- Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spices to Starbucks
- Dunkin’ Donuts to Dunkin’
- Pete’s Super Submarines to Subway
- Smith & Wesson to American Outdoor Brands
- Philip Morris to Altria
- Xe Services, Blackwater Worldwide to Academi
- GMAC Bank to Ally Financial
- The World Wrestling Federation to the WWE (this was because the World Wildlife Fund also used the initials WWF)
- Valeant Pharmaceuticals to Bausch Health
- ValueJet Airlines to AirTrain Airways
- Tronc to Tribune Publishing Co.
- Corrections Corporation of America to CoreCivic
Not all of the companies above have rebranded successfully, but they all changed their names for one reason or another. Some of them, like Netflix, are so well known today that you may have never heard of Qwikster. Yet other name changes, like Altria from Philip Morris, may not take away the stigma that the original name had within the industry.
Should you Use your Name for your Business?
From Kate Spade and Ralph Lauren to Ann Taylor and Tommy Hilfiger, using your name for your business can be a great way to build your brand around your persona. Leaders throughout history have developed their business name around themselves with great success, as long as their persona stayed positive:
- The Hershey Company is represented by philanthropist and leader Milton Hershey
- Henry Ford was the backbone to the Ford Motor Company
- Charles Tiffany built a jewellery empire with a little blue box that wore the Tiffany & Co. name
- Calvin Klein was the handsome face of his clothing behind the scenes and in front of the camera
- Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield built a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream empire through their hippie personalities.
For every Milton Hershey and Henry Ford, there are also the leaders who branded their names across billboards only to have to take them down when they themselves got into hot water. Not everyone who gets in trouble ruins their brand – think of Martha Stewart! But, if you do get in trouble, your own name could bring down your company.
The Lance Armstrong Foundation changed its name to the Livestrong Foundation after it came to light that its namesake used illegal performance-enhancing drugs during his professional career. The antivirus software company McAfee also changed its name to Intel Security to rebrand away from creator John McAfee’s publicised erratic behaviour.
If you have a memorable name, a stellar personal reputation, and have a persona that builds both credibility and trust, then you could use your name for your business. Just remember that your name may not define what your business is all about, and if you decide to change the management, it will not make sense.
Do Not Use Your Name, or Any Other Name, That is Complicated
If you have gone through life with people mispronouncing your name, it is probably going to be too complicated to use for your business name. Remember that one of the main reasons your business name matters is to not only to entice customers and sales but also investors and potential talent to add to your company’s brand.
In fact, a study in the Personality and Social Psychology Review examined stock names from 1990 through 2004 and determined that stocks that had names that were easier to pronounce outperformed stock names that were more difficult to pronounce. Therefore, a business name that is simple and easy to say is suggested for success.
You should also avoid using initials and acronyms to try to simplify your complicated name. Instead, just do not use a complicated name. This is because most people will see initials and simply wonder one thing – what do they stand for? This means they have no idea what your brand is or what you represent.
Now, this is not to say there are no companies that have used initials and acronyms successfully. Many well-known companies have shortened their complicated names using initials, so you may be wondering why you should not. This is because these companies were already known before, they switched to initials:
- WW (Weight Watchers)
- IBM (International Business Machines)
- BP (British Petroleum)
- KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken)
- BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft)
- UPS (United Parcel Service)
- MTV (Music Television)
- HP (Hewlett Packard)
- HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank)
- HBO (Home Box Office)
Other Tips When Creating A Business Name That Matter
Now that you understand why your business name matters, you can start thinking creatively about how you will come up with a successful name that represents everything positive about your company. There are numerous guidelines to think about when developing a business name, and some of the most important ones are below:
- Easy to pronounce
- Long-lasting to evolve appropriately
You also need to think digitally in today’s technological world. Your name will not be successful if you cannot put a .com after it and have it searchable on the web. The internet is the primary way customers find companies, which is why your business’s web address needs to be one of the first things you consider in a brand name.
A Memorable Business Name Helps Word of Mouth and Search-ability
If a customer can remember your business name, they will remember to tell others about your business name. This word-of-mouth advertising is sometimes worth more than the traditional web, billboard, and print advertising methods you pay for every day. Short and easy-to-remember names that illustrate your brand will be spread verbally.
A short and easy name does not just help with your own branding – just think how much cheaper it is to have a sign out front with less lettering. It also will help your customers remember you easily when talking to friends and family about that new set of headphones purchased, the cool salt shakers, or the innovative rice maker you sold them.
Your name is also important in the digital world because it should be easy to search through sites like Google, Firefox, and other search engines. It is one thing to choose a name that someone will not forget. It is another thing to choose a name that is so hard to spell that your customers cannot even put it into a search engine correctly.
Your business name will do nothing if your potential customers cannot search for you via the web. They should be able to memorise it with ease so that they can search for you via their phone, their tablet, laptop, or standard desktop computer. If it is a longer name that requires a lot of typing, it better have a memorable background behind it.
Where Do You Go From Here?
A business name can make or break your company. That is clear. Your brand is more than the name, but the personality and reputation of your brand needs to be encompassed in one or two simple, meaningful, and memorable words. Here are some ways to create the perfect name that will matter to your business and your success:
- Simply make up a word, like Pepsi or Kleenex (no, those are not real words!)
- Use your name, as long as it is easy to say, and your reputation is stellar
- Describe it literally – think of something simple like “The Paper Company”
- Create an acronym if you think it will represent you well; otherwise, skip this one.
- Combine two meaningful words like “Pinterest” (Pin + interest)
- Have a creative descriptor like Bank of America
- Try a metaphor – Amazon is the largest river in the world and the largest website in the world
- Use alliteration, which is combining words that begin with the same consonant (Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme, Sizzler Steakhouse)
- Open up a dictionary and see what word encompasses your brand.
If you keep things simple, memorable, and easy to search digitally, trademark, and replicate with a domain name, your business name will evoke a positive representation of your company that will entice customers through the web and beyond.