Deciding on a company name is often one of the most agonising stages for most entrepreneurs. Everything else seems to pale into insignificance as you pace around asking everyone “what’s the best name for my business?”
In reality, too much emphasis is put on this process and, contrary to what you may feel, it’s not set in stone.
So, here are some things to consider when it comes to naming your business.
1. The name isn’t as important as your vision
Knowing what you plan to do with your business is actually a lot more important than what you call it.
Using you own name could be the most liberating way of naming your business even if it may feel like a creative cop-out. You will allow yourself the freedom to do whatever you want to do vs. confining yourself to activities your business name suggests.
On the flip side, a company name can create, from the start, a sense of grandeur, an impression of being bigger than just you and it may be easier, down the line, if you want to sell your business not to have your name as the business name.
2. Consider the market you will be operating in
Using a company name that can only be pronounced in a certain language can lead to some serious challenges.
A few years ago John and I founded a Technical Training company in the UAE. We named it Daribni Technical Training – Daribni means “Train Me” in Arabic and was always well received by our Arabic speaking clients, yet our English speaking clients were divided, some were too scared to say the name for fear of saying it wrong where as others butchered the name and often said “darabni” which means slap me in Arabic. You get the idea. Since we were clear on our target market and knew our niche it was fine. Yes, we knew the name wouldn’t travel well.
Another interesting example is the French company Bic who changed their name in the 1940s from Bich (after the founder Marcel Bich) to Bic to avoid any issues in international markets.
On the flip side, a Japanese sports drink brand “Pocari Sweat”, is a brand only available in Asia and Middle Eastern markets. They defended their brand name by stating they have no intention to go into English speaking markets after people said the name made the think the drink actually contained sweat (I’ve never been able to drink it as the name is so off putting).
3. Test, test, test
Test your business name before committing to it – ask people to spell it.
Ask people to tell them what image comes to mind when you hear the name.
There is no right or wrong answer.
Just be cautious when it comes to naming your business that you are clear on who your target market is – calling yourself “Your Name Entreprises” sounds a bit silly if you are a boutique style business offering customised, highly personal services.
4. Keep it simple
Ok, so you want something that stands out and is memorable but don’t go crazy. Try to avoid naming your business like artists of the past have named their movements – the Dada movement was named one night, as legend has it, by sticking a knife into a French/German dictionary. Dada means “rocking horse” in French. Whilst it’s a novel way to name a business you might want to look over it again in the morning.
Similarly don’t go making up “usual” spellings of commonly used words!
How did you decide what was the best name for your business?