What Will You Call Your New Business?

Business Names: Chanel
Can’t think of a business name? What about your surname?

You’re starting a new business. What will you call it?

After you brainstorm, and have some hot contenders, don’t forget this tip from: 3 tips for choosing a name for your startup business | MYOB Blog:

“Make sure you can get the domain name.

This will probably be the ultimate determinant as to which name you go for; you might have a brilliant name for your business, but if you can’t make it work from a web domain perspective, then you’re pretty much back to square one.”

Yes — get the domain name.

An aside re domains: you are developing a website, aren’t you? Craig Reardon reports:

According to the latest MYOB Business Monitor, Australian SMEs operating a website numbered a paltry 38% – 2% higher than the same time the year before, but a whopping 9% lower than the peak of 47% in October 2010.

Tsk, tsp… (yes, that’s me, tutting.) If you’re thinking of foregoing a website, shame on you. Social media can’t replace your business’s home on the Web. Social media is ephemeral. You have no control over what happens there.

OK, mini-rant over, back to business names.

Here are some ideas to help you to choose the perfect name.

What’s YOUR name? Use your own name as the business’s name

As with Chanel, you can’t really go wrong using your own name. If it’s a common name — or if someone’s already trademarked it — you’ll need to tinker with it. Just add another word or two. :-)

Combine two words

It worked for the Eveready Battery Company, and for many other businesses.

Just brainstorm lists of words associated with what you do. I’ve found it helps to create a giant list of words on a whiteboard, and leave them up for a few days.

No whiteboard? Get a couple of pads of sticky notes, and write a word on each note. Stick the notes onto the wall, where you can study them.

Snicker — here’s Sheldon and Raj, studying…

Just look at the words, for a couple of minutes, and then go on with your day. You’ll find that your subconscious mind gets in on the act, and the perfect name will come to you as a sudden inspiration.

Go for a weird name

You can’t get much weirder than “Google” or for that matter, “Apple” as the name of a computer company.

Spend a little time studying mythology. I’ve got a couple of very old books I received as presents in my teens. I often use them for naming purposes. You’ll find lots of mythology books in the Reference section of your local library. You can also use free texts from Project Gutenberg; example: Myths and Legends of Ancient Greece and Rome by E.M. Berens.

A tip: be wary of using foreign terms as a name. If you don’t speak a language, you won’t be aware of slang terms in that language. The name you choose could have a lovely dictionary definition, but mean something totally different to native speakers. The results can be… unfortunate. Yes, it happens. I know of a couple of cases, but my lips are sealed.:-)

Naming your new business is just as much fun — or more fun, than naming a baby. Good luck with it. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee

photo credit: aiirr via photopin cc

Business Disaster: Choosing a Trademarked Name — OUCH

Leica

If you own an online business — especially if you own an info products business — you think about names. You choose names for products, services, and campaigns; it’s so common that you do it without thinking.

Lack of foresight leads to disaster.

It’s well worth reading this article, Simple 5-10 Minute Task That Could Save You Hours – Learn From My Mistake! – Productive & Organized, to discover what a hassle it is when you infringe on someone else’s intellectual property:

“Why We Had To Change -> Trademark Infringement
You see, part of our program name was trademarked.  Not the entire name, just part of it.  The trademark owner contacted our office and suggested that we remove the site, directory listings and any other public reference we had to their trademark because we were infringing on their rights.”

Be suspicious when you’re inspired with the “perfect” name

Unknowingly (even if you’ve done searches) you can infringe on others’ marks and IP. If it happens to you, don’t feel bad. It’s easily done.

And yes, it’s happened to me. Around a decade ago I created a program, and did a couple of searches which turned up nothing… A couple of days after the launch I received an irate email message. Someone else was using the name, and had been using it for a couple of years.

Of course I was happy to take my medicine and rename my program. I couldn’t do anything else.

So these days, whenever I think of the “perfect” name for something, I’m immediately suspicious. I search immediately for anything that’s similar. I figure that if the name’s that perfect, someone else is probably using it already.

It’s horribly easy to make this particular mistake. Don’t make it. Steer clear of trademarks, and any which is close to anything that someone else is using.