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Branding Your Business, Starting A Business

How to Name Your Small Business

So, you’re determined to turn your awesome idea into a profitable small business. That’s why you’ve been surviving on caffeine with little shut eye for months. You’ve invested countless hours (and even some of your savings) already – yet there’s still so much to do. Launch day is approaching mighty quick. You realize with a sudden jolt that your new venture is still nameless.

At this point, it’s easy to fall into a beginner’s trap by either failing to realize the importance of naming or not fully understanding best naming practices. A name really does have the power to make or break a new venture, so don’t risk having all your hard work turn into a big, fat waste of time. Ensure you give your small business the fighting chance it deserves.

Know your brand personality

Ensure you know the personality or style of your brand. This applies even if you haven’t done much branding work yet. Will your business be traditional and serious? Or witty and whimsical? Perhaps you plan to pull on people’s heartstrings with an emotive brand. Or play it straight with descriptive branding. As it’s where branding begins, your name must reflect your chosen brand personality.

Know what makes a great name

Your name must be evocative and memorable, so it sticks in customers’ minds. It should also be appealing to your target audience. Ensure you know who your target customer is! Choose a name that’s as unique as it possibly can be. Remember, catchy, simple names usually work best.

Know what to avoid

Don’t use a location (e.g. suburb or city) in your name. It could limit you in the future as your business grows. You should also avoid names that are difficult to spell or pronounce  – they won’t be easily recalled. Likewise, steer clear of anything obscure that only a few people will “get.”

Consider the possibilities

Familiarize yourself with common name types. These include real words (Apple), misspelled words (Flickr), compounds (WordPress), phrases (Stumbleupon), blends (Instagram), made-up words (Meebo), acronyms (AOL) and plays on words (Sole Mates). You’ll get a better handle on what you like and don’t like, and hopefully find some inspiration.

Pick others’ brains

Don’t rely on yourself to come up with the winning idea. Not saying you can’t, just that picking as many brains as possible is the best option, for obvious reasons. Assemble a naming team yourself, made up of family, friends or colleagues. Or take your search wider. Look for easy-to-use, low cost naming platforms. You need to harness the power of crowdsourcing, providing you with hundreds of different name ideas in just a few days.

Avoid stumbling blocks

Naming isn’t as easy as simply picking something you love that’s memorable and catchy. There are legal issues to consider – in particular, trademarks. As pretty much every word in the dictionary is Trademarked, you must get legal advice regarding the risk attached to your name choice. Domain name availability is another issue you must contend with, as is the linguistic implications of your choice of name – you don’t want it to mean something offensive in another language.

Get validation

If you want to be fully confident in your name, get feedback from the sorts of people you are trying to appeal to. Make sure you know the profile of your ideal purchaser and seek out real people who fit your profile descriptors. Ask them what they think. You can also get feedback from your networks on social media.

Make an investment in a great name for your small business, and you will be proud to use it for year to come. Also, never discount the effect a good name has on your business—from word of mouth to attracting attention to building a base of raving fans, everything is easier with a great name that people are excited to say and share.

Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Squadhelp – transforming the way names, logos, and taglines are developed by combining an affordable agency-level brainstorming process with the unmatched creativity of “the crowd.” His book How to Develop the Perfect Name for Just About Anything is available to Kabbage blog readers for free.

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