When it comes to running a small business, first impressions are everything. A customer's reaction upon initially encountering your brand won't just determine whether they remember your brand or forget it — it will also dictate whether they make a purchase from you or turn somewhere else.
So it's crucial to make a fantastic first impression to potential customers, and one of the best ways to do so is by choosing a catchy, one-of-a-kind business name. But how can you come up with a name that fits the bill?
To find out, we spoke to six small business owners to find out the best way to create a unique business name.
Martin Luenendonk, CEO of FounderJar: Keep It Simple
From Apple to Ikea to Nike, many of the most successful companies across a range of industries have clear, simple names. That's because such names are catchy, easy to remember and unlikely to go out of style, and the same principles apply to small businesses.
Luenendonk at FounderJar says, "A good business name is vital to getting attention to your brand and establishing a good reputation." As such, "One of my top tips for creating a name for your business, as a founder myself, is to ensure that you choose something user-friendly. A distinctive business name will not be beneficial for your business if your audience is having a hard time pronouncing it or typing it in."
With that in mind, "Make sure that though your business name is unique and memorable, it is still easy for consumers to say, spell and remember it. You can also create an acronym for your business’ name to make it easier for consumers to remember your brand."
Himanshu Shrivastava, Marketing Manager at DesignBro: Don't Limit Yourself
When choosing a name for your small business, the last thing you want to do is pick something that you'll wish you could change later down the line.
That's why Shrivastava at DesignBro recommends that you "don't try to name it something that will limit your business." More specifically, "if you plan to widen your offerings, you should avoid names that can limit your potential."
For instance, "if you have a local designer wear business, you don't want to name it Washington's Best Designer Dress as it'll limit your growth out of Washington."
In such a scenario, a DBA ("Doing Business As") could help. If you have a business with a location-specific name but want to open new branches in different locations, you can simply get a DBA for each.
Chris Gadek, Vice President of Growth at AdQuick: Consider SEO
So Chris Gadek at AdQuick advises that "a tip for coming up with a business name is to have it pertain to the business that you do, but also be unique enough to stand out for SEO purposes."
He elaborated by sharing his own experience: "Our business, AdQuick, focuses on making outdoor advertisements easy. Hence the name AdQuick was born. It makes advertisements quick and easy. Try to follow a similar pattern for your business and create a unique and creative name for your company."
How sure are you that the services or products you plan on offering now are the same ones you'll be offering in five years? That's a crucial question to ask when choosing a permanent name for your small business.
Rachelle at Business BEactive addressed that issue when creating her own business: "Personally, I created my business name by knowing I was going to likely change what I do for clients, so I wanted it to be general but recognizable. Therefore, Business BEactive was born."
The lesson here is that if you plan on staying within one specific niche, don't be afraid to name your business accordingly. But if you think you might change your business' direction with time, be sure to give it a versatile name.
One thing you may not think to take into account when naming your business is whether you'd consider selling it in the future.
Muller at DCM Communications sums it up perfectly by saying: "If you think there is the potential you could one day want to sell it to someone else and walk away with money in your bank account, then it's best to not include your name in the company name."
On the other hand, "if you don't foresee yourself selling and instead [plan on] keeping it as your own business and/or a family one that gets passed down, then using your name (full or just last) can be great for building brand equity."
Even if you don't plan on selling your business later on, you should still think carefully about whether or not you want to name it after yourself. After all, research has found that eponymous companies tend to have a higher return on assets (ROA) than their non-eponymous counterparts.
Naming your company after yourself can be especially beneficial if you've already worked to cultivate a good reputation. As Park at Melissa Park Events says: "As you can see, I named my company after myself. While there are pluses and minuses for anyone to do this, for me, it has worked really well primarily because of the fact that I had a strong reputation within my field prior to launching my company in 2008."
So, "if you have worked hard in your career to develop a skill set and make a name for yourself, then I would advise you consider including your name in the company name to really capitalize on that."
Ultimately, the name you give your business is entirely up to you. But if you want it to be as catchy, unique and effective as possible, then the advice of these successful small business owners can provide the guidance you're looking for.
And don't forget to check that your stellar business name is available with your state. Use our free Business Name Search Tool to find out if it's taken or not, and you can even get started on officially filing and forming your business.
Carrie Buchholz-Powers is a Colorado-based writer who’s been creating content since 2013. From digital marketing to ecommerce to land conservation, she has experience in a wide range of fields and loves learning about them all. Carrie is fond of history, animals and beauty in equal measure. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, playing video games and exploring Colorado's prairies and mountains with her husband.