6 tips to help you find the right name for your business

18 Jul

Gone fishing postit noteOf course you want a good name for your business. There’s a lot riding on it. But coming up with a name is a lot tougher than you might think.

Simple, memorable, unique business names are getting pretty hard to come by. They’ve all been done it seems.

You toil away hour after hour scrabbling good options together only to learn that the name you just love is already being used by 117 businesses in Canada and the U.S. Back to the fish pond.

Along the way to finding the name your business will become identified with, you might bear these criteria in mind:

1. You want it to endure. No trendy name is going to sound good in five years, so if you were thinking of naming your mobile appetizer cart business There’s An App For That you may want to reconsider.

2. You want it to be memorable. Anything starting with Van Isle, or Island is not going to cut it here on Vancouver Island. Which hasn’t stopped hundreds of businesses from doing just that! It can’t be memorable unless it feels…

3. Unique. Don’t grab the name of a business you like and imitate it. Don’t default to your geographic location unless that’s your selling point. Figure out what your selling point is and try finding a name that represents that. Speedy Muffler, classic example.

4. Stick with simple. I don’t need to tell you that. But simple names are easier to write on cheques, easier to Google, easier to remember, easier to spread. They make your company’s business offering look straightforward too.

5. Tell people what you do. Most names don’t. If you have a unique offering, begin to tell that story through the name you choose.

6. Try to communicate your values or personality. Honest Ed’s in Toronto was a forerunner in this respect. Thrifty Foods here on the Island is another classic. People already know something about you before they do business with you. Of course, your business then has to live up to your own hype.

If you’re the sole proprietor of a business and looking for the most effective way to re-brand, take a good long look in the mirror before you re-name your company. We work with many businesses who create elaborate names for themselves that have little to do with any of the above criteria. And yet their real strength lies in the person who owns the place.

Two very recent examples.

Sheila Beauchemin, a busy Victoria consultant, came to us requesting some branding help. Our advice to her was to stop investing in her arbitrary company name, Western Dynasonics, and start investing in her own. She is the brand. Every ounce of her energy should be driving the reputation of her own work.


 old business card for Victoria BC consultant Sheila Beauchemin


Victoria BC business consultant Sheila Beauchemin's new brand ID

Christina Hilborne makes gorgeous high-end sustainable furniture. Like Sheila, she was hiding her strongest asset behind a name, Splintered Minx, that didn’t enhance her name recognition in the market. As a craftsperson, this would be especially important. We recommended naming her company after herself.


Furniture maker Christina Hilborne's old Brand ID


Victoria BC furniture maker Christina Hilborne's new brand IDDon’t tell people what you do, tell people what you do for them.

Many business are not built around the reputation of the owner, but on the services her or his team can deliver. With Web Conferencing Solutions (WCS), we looked to find a simpler name that delivered on what the company did in a customer-benefit sense. They weren’t really promising web conferencing solutions, but bringing people together. CommonSkys was born. (You guessed it: CommonSkies was already taken.)


 Web Conferencing Solutions old branding


CommonSkys new name and logoThe name you choose can change the fortunes of your business forever. Don’t leave it up to a committee of friends and family.

Websites for all three businesses coming right up folks.

Edit: Read Tom Hammarberg’s companion post on choosing domain names for your business


3 Responses to “6 tips to help you find the right name for your business”

  1. Jody Beck July 18, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    File this post under, “will likely generate response” or “need to work with these guys.”

    Good work on the creative. Solid.

  2. Doug Brown July 18, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    What a cool comment. Thanks a lot Jody.


  1. social media, business,marketing,blogging - November 7, 2011

    social media, business,marketing,blogging…

    […]6 tips to help you find the right name for your business « We make it all better[…]…

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