Deciding what to call your business can be one of the most challenging things to face when starting out.  The challenge is to choose a name that catches attention and fits well with the type of business you are without being too broad or confining.

Once you’ve researched what names are already out there in the market, consider the following to help you develop the all-important business name that will establish you in the marketplace.

What will my business name represent?

Your business name will help to segment you from your competitors and reinforce what your company image is. Think about your brand positioning and what your line of business is and then use that as a starting point to work from.

Look for a name that supports your brand, your brand’s focus and strategy, how you want to be perceived and what tone you’d like to set.

Does my company name make sense for my business?

A company name needs to be able show what you are about and what your products and services are. A company name doesn’t need to include reference to the services you provide, but it is helpful if it does.

Playing on common phrases and names with puns and spelling shifts can help to make your company stand out but there’s a fairly fine line between humour and cheesiness.

For example Lawn & Order, is a good name for a landscaping business because it gets people’s attention and clearly relates to the company’s services while managing to maintain a level of professionalism.

Will the name I have in mind limit my business?

Don’t choose a name that restricts your business profiling in the future, stopping expansion of product lines or expanding to new locations.  It may be a good name to start a business but you need to question whether it has longevity and whether it has the ability to grow with how you envisage the future of your business.

In years to come you could end up with costly rebranding exercises if you restrict your company name, so it’s worth a consideration at the start.

Can people spell it?

Your company name will be your website address, social media handle and more, so the easier it is to spell the better.

There are exceptions to the ‘easy to spell’ rule especially if customers are most likely to see your business name first in print or online – which in today’s market is highly likely – rather than via word of mouth.

An example of a successful strange-sounding name is Zulily.co.uk, an online company offering daily deals for mums, babies and children.  On hearing the name, you may not know instantly what the company was or did, but with the company’s marketing campaigns have powered an understanding while the unusual sound and spelling has helped them to create a distinctive brand identity.

How long is it?

It’s also worth considering the length of your company name. If you’re going to be harnessing the power of social media- specifically Twitter – you don’t want your business name to take up too many of those precious characters.

If you need or want a lengthier business name, can it be abbreviated or made into a friendly acronym for when you’re more limited with space?

Have I conducted a proper trademark search?

A company name is not worth anything if someone has already laid claim to it.  Research the name and register your name through the correct channels in order to prevent duplication of your business name credentials.

It’s also worth checking that no other business exist with the name you’re planning to use. Search for websites with the name you’ve got in mind to see what comes up and do the same for social media. You’ll ideally want to be able to purchase your own domain and register for social sites with your business name, so it’s worth checking that they’re available!

How will the name work with branding? 

What will it your business name look like on an advertisement, or even a billboard? How will your logo look? The name needs to work together with branding to sell your business.

Look at familiar large brands to see what’s already on the market and get a designer to mock at least half a dozen branding ideas for consideration.  Once the designs are put together try and pull together a number of people to get feedback on the designs – do they see a brand or do they see just a name?

Once you’ve considered the above, you should be pretty much ready to go ahead and choose your final name!