Simple Strategies for Choosing a Winning Business Name (Plus, How to Avoid the Mistake I Made!)

When it comes to small business success, a name means everything. And coming up with the right name for your business is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.

With your future on the line, plan on putting in just as much time and effort into creating a winning business name as you did when developing your business plan or choosing your target market. The right name will help to pique curiosity, attract your ideal customers and form an immediate emotional connection, while the wrong one can leave you and your business faltering.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic recipe for picking a winning business name. But following the six hints below will definitely point you in the right direction.

1. Keep it short

Although there are always exceptions, the majority of great business names tend to be short, to the point and catchy. Some of the most successful businesses use simple, one-word names! Longer names are usually difficult to say and harder to handle in radio ads, on logos and signage.

If you do decide to go with a longer length, make sure its shortened version, which might be required for its web domain, is acceptable.

Also, keep in mind that people would much rather say, “I’m going to call USAA to update my insurance policy,” than “I need to call the United Services Automobile Association.” But be careful because even if you don’t intend for your name to be shortened, the public will often do it for you. And not all abbreviations will work. (“I’m going to the FBI,” has a whole different meaning than grabbing a bite to eat at Frank’s Breakfast Inn. smiley) 2. Make it easy to spell, pronounce and remember

Put simply, if they can’t easily pronounce your biz name, your customers will avoid saying it! And as a small business owner, you can’t afford to miss out on free word-of-mouth advertising.

This is a lesson I’ve learned from experience.

Make sure the name sits well on your tongue and sounds good to your ear. And then test it out with others. They should be able to easily spell and correctly pronounce the name the first time they hear or see it.

3. Remember the meaning

Before you start thinking of a business name, define the qualities you want your business to be identified with, such as, strong, dependable or affordable. Also think about WHAT you do. The more meaning you put into your business name up front, the less time you’ll spend explaining what you do or the value you provide.

For instance, names like Joe’s Plumbing, Carol’s Interior Design and Smith & Weston Architecture immediately communicate the type of service each of these businesses provide – even to a casual passerby. And when you stop to think about it, many of us end up calling companies are walking into stores simply because the name of the business clearly indicated that they have what we’re looking for.

4. Create a positive visual and emotional connection

Generally speaking, when we hear or read something, our brains transmit this into an image. For example, what picture pops into your mind when you read “Bridal Boutique” versus “Dress Barn”? Based on your newly formed mental picture, where would you rather shop? Besides the visual, we also form an emotional connection, either good or bad. So when we see an ad about a day spa with words like “Retreat ” or “Relaxation,” we not only form a visual but also a connection of peace and tranquility.

5. Make it unique

Keeping in mind hints one through four above, it’s also important to make your business name unique. Ensure other companies aren’t already using something similar. It might be the difference of a word like having “apparel” instead of “clothing” at the end of a business name or simply having an “s” at the end of the title like, “Sparkle LLC” versus “Sparkles LLC” that makes the difference between two companies. Do your research. There are plenty free online services that allow you to check whether or not a business name is taken.

Also test out your top choices of names on your friends and family. They might surprise you and come up with a connotation that is completely different than what you intended.

6. Make sure you can get the website address

Before you decide on your award-winning business name and concern yourself with the details, make sure you can transfer your name into a website address as early as possible. Your domain name needs to match your business name as closely as possible, giving your potential and current customers one less thing they have to remember.

But what if you can get the domain name you want, only without the.com extension? Is it better to get the name and choose another extension such as, “.net” or “.biz”? Different experts say different things. My advice is to have a.com address as your primary URL, but to buy as many of the closely matched other domains as possible – and have them all point to your website.

If you do choose an alternative, make sure that you advertise your business with the full domain name, otherwise people will assume a “.com” extension and travel to the wrong place or worse yet, to your competitor’s page.

At the end of the day, one of the most important factors is whether or not your ideal, targeted customers or clients will like and resonate with your business name. It’s even more important than if you like it. So be sure to do your research, test out your choices and choose something that will help you grow your business.