Small Business Startup Checklist – Naming Your Business

This is the first of a series of weekly posts focusing on some of the key issues that a small business startup faces.

One of the first things that you will wish to do once you have decided what your business will specialise in (see Small Business Ideas if you are struggling for inspiration) is to decide what it will be called.

Things to remember:   

  • If you are struggling to come up with a name it might be helpful to use a mind-mapping tool like Freemind
  • Try to come up with names that will be descriptive of the service you offer or are unique and catchy in some way. However, it is possible that a vague name with no relation to your business activities will only serve to confuse your potential customers
  • Bear in mind that your business name will form the basis of your corporate image and will be the focus of many of your marketing activities. The name should not be so specific that it restricts organisational changes you may need to make in the future relating to products or strategy
  • Investigate the names of the businesses that will be your future competition. You may be inspired to come up with a name that is similar but differentiates you in some way
  • Be aware of the legal issues that surround naming a business. Some words may be illegal or infringe copyright so you will want to avoid using them in your business name
  • Ask your friends, family and potential clients about the name you are considering as their opinions will be a useful gauge of how much they like that it and what message it conveys to them. You may wish to go further than this and conduct full market testing on the name
  • If you going to be trading internationally, check whether your name has a different meaning in other languages or cultures in order to avoid offence or misunderstandings
  • Check to see if the domain names relating to your favourite choices are already taken. It is important that you have a website address that is easy for your customers to remember. If your name is complex to spell you may wish to register the most common misspellings also
  • Try designing some logo’s using your favourite name to see if you would be happy with how it looks
  • When you make your final decision to register and possibly trademark your business name it is probably best to trust your own intuition as to which one is the most appropriate. It may help you to imagine your business being reported on in the press and how you would feel if you saw it in a headline
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