Tips for Naming a Business

The most important part of deciding a business name is to make sure that you are not violating another business’ copyright or trademark. Choosing, for example, “Pepsi Hawaii Marketing” is just a bad idea and you are more than likely going to end up with problems down the road. This blog post does not deal with these issues: check with state agencies, do some Google searches, and contact a lawyer.
Here are some broad strategies:

Choose a clever name:

Kona Counter Fitters
Royal Flush
Kona Hookers
Down the Line Plumbing
These are all businesses in Kona, Hawaii. They, of course, play on the double meanings. Two of the ones above are plumbing services, one is a fishing charter and the other, well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?

Choose a location + activity:

Hualalai Urgent Care
West Hawaii Community Health Center
Kona Professional Housekeepers
These names associate the business with a place and an activity, which can be very valuable if you want people to find you online. Most online searches for location-specific services or products include a place plus the service or product. A name like the above have a lot of marketing value built into the name.
The downside of these business names is that they are tied to a location. That is, it would be hard for these business entities to franchise or open a location in another area with the same name. So, on one hand the brand is really strong for a specific area, but it’s hard to expand the business with the same name elsewhere.

Use a family name:

Bob’s Service Station (ficticious)
Anderson Used Cars (ficticious)
My problem with these names is that they make an exit from the business difficult for the original owner. When “Bob” or “Anderson” is the brand, it makes it very difficult when “Bob or “Anderson” want to retire or move on to another business venture. Most businesses are worth a lot more if the brand is not specific to an individual. Selling these businesses will be more difficult, and the business value is probably less because of the name.
Here are things to consider for your business name:

  • If at all possible make sure that the domain name for your business is available. It will make your future marketing efforts a lot smoother and less expensive if your business name is your domain name.
  • Keep your name broad enough to allow the business to grow into new areas.
  • Keep is short and easy to remember.
  • Avoid unusual characters, spellings and numbers. These will make your business hard to find online.
  • By all means, avoiding something that could embarrass you or turn off potential clients. There was a business here called “Bitchin’ Burritos,” which, by the way had awesome burritos.  I can imagine the name itself turned off a lot of potential customers. Another business I know chose an atypical spelling of an object, which resulted in their initials being “KKK”. This was made worse by the positioning of their van graphics which stacks the three words making the unfortunate initials all the more salient. Building a business is hard enough; avoid early mistakes that will haunt you for the life of the business.