What’s in a name? Picking the right name for your small business can mean the difference between standing out in the crowd and getting lost in the shuffle. So before you hang out that shingle, here are some tips we used for naming WikiThreads, a Dallas custom t-shirts business.
In the internet age, it is difficult to come up with an original name. Even if you find the ideal name for your local business, another business across the country may already own the website URL. As a result, you’ll need to brainstorm a list of 10 to 20 names that you find acceptable. Enlist your friends and family as your consulting panel to brainstorm with you as you develop a name.
CAPTURE THE ESSENCE
Make sure your name encompasses the essence of your business. Business names like Bluebonnet Services or Focused Solutions don’t really clue you in on the product or service they deliver. People go to small businesses because of the niche they serve. Claim it proudly! Once you are wildly successfully, you can become more general, as occurred when Starbucks Coffee decided to become just Starbucks. If you do a good job capturing the essence with a creative name, determining your logo will be easier.
Adding a geographic modifier can help define the business, such as Plano Embroidery & Screen Printing, or Richardson T-shirts, or Dallas Promotional Products. Although these names are quite descriptive, they are not memorable.
Adding a special word or unique modifier can really make you stand out. For example, a Dallas-based company calls itself Hypnotic Donuts, which is infinitely more memorable than Tasty Donuts. Another example is The Impeccable Pig, a local boutique with Austin and Dallas area stores. The name is unique and unforgettable.
What about puns or names with a double entendre? They are fine, IF they communicate the essence of the business. But often, they don’t. What sort of business is “Everything but Water?” Stumped? It’s a retail swimwear shop.
SPELLING AND PRONUNCIATION
Is it easily misspelled? A name that is easy to spell is more apt to cause your website to be pulled up correctly in Google. Ask others to spell your preferred name as a test of its practicality. You should also show your written business name to your consulting panel, to see if they can pronounce it when they see it in print.
Before you select your final name, you’ll want to make sure that the web site is available. You can check on Go Daddy, Network Solutions, or several other online domain name registration sites. If your desired URL isn’t available, these tools will suggest closely related names. Don’t select a primary name which doesn’t have the.com extension available. People expect your site to end in.com and that’s where they will look first.
RESERVE & REGISTER
Now it’s time to register your selected name in the domain registration tool. Think carefully about reserving closely related names, misspellings, and.biz or.net extensions. It’s relatively cheap to reserve URLs, so you may as well reserve them to keep them out of competitors or use them to redirect to your site.
Go ahead and establish the Facebook and Twitter accounts so you can grab the name before someone else does.
Finally, it’s time to complete the legal steps. Register your business name with your county clerk’s office or your state, depending on the laws in your state. If you are envisioning a multi-site business or one with a national reach, you may want to trademark your business name on a statewide or federal level.
Now your name is on message, memorable, and legal. In my next post, we’ll discuss how to determine your logo.