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Old 07-21-2008, 07:31 AM
Terry Kyle
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Default Rules for Choosing a Business Name

5 Important Guidelines for Choosing a Great Business Name

Based on my experience as a copywriter and creative director in the advertising industry, here are some useful principles when brainstorming your new business’ name:

1. Convey the specific benefit to your prospect in the name.

Rather than taking the time to build up a new business based on a branded name (you need pretty deep marketing pockets for this type of ‘money pit marketing’) e.g. Sue Smith Accounting or John’s Auto Centre, instead build the specific benefit to your target market into the name itself.

In the case of the two above examples, Instant Cash Tax Refunds and 30-Minute Tune-ups would have a lot more immediate impact and generate business from Day 1. To be blunt, if a small business is to survive, it needs to be generating business quickly and very cheaply.

This is harder in some business types than others but all marketing should focus on solving a specific problem with a specific, measurable solution. Branding TV campaigns and full-page colour spreads are for Coca-Cola and McDonald’s (and don’t actually drive any business anyway).

2. Make your business name your web address too.

We live in the internet age now and most service-based businesses will be attracting either a lot or most of their new customers and clients through search engine traffic and/or picking up (free) ads from Craigslist and Gumtree and (not free) Yellow pages (online).

Why not start building your web presence into the business from the beginning by actually having it there, working for you immediately e.g. (if you are locally-oriented, putting the area in too could be beneficial though try not to make it too long).

You should also make sure that your business website is properly set up with a location map, current deals/offers, testimonials, contact details and professional presentation (learn to use a digital camera if you don’t already know - how many ebay products have terrible photos?).

3. Test, test, test. But with the right audience.

Testing is vital and should be built into all aspects of your new business marketing. You should be testing Google Adwords variations, different classifieds, colours and - if relevant - the visual appearance of your retail environment.

But even before that, join relevant forums or local groups in your niche and ask them directly about your business name and slogan - not just which one/s they like but why they like it or don’t like certain options (ask them to pick from 5 maximum at a time) and engage in an ongoing dialogue about offering specific solutions to their needs. This marketing information is priceless.

Note carefully the actual words they use and feature these in your marketing - not marketing textbook jargon. Testing names on your family is worthless if they are not in your target market and they are probably too close to you anyway to offer unbiased assessments.

Testing is free.

Advertising is not.

Advertising a great small business with a lousy name and lousy ad copy is painful, expensive and, most importantly, unnecessary.

Removing your own assumptions about your prospects and testing can be tremendously enlightening and, strangely enough, people want to freely offer their thoughts on this subject.

4. Emotional not logical.

Virtually all advertising appeals to emotions and not rationality or logic.


Because emotion is far more powerful in influencing human behaviour than logic. Besides, what we buy based on emotion, we rationalise later. If possible, try to build an emotional ‘hook’ into your business name, or if not, your slogan.

Coming back to, clearly the appeal here is greed. 30-Minute Tune-ups appeals to impatience.

A flat, sterile, logic-appealing name and advertising will simply not cut through the ad clutter - at least not in the short term.

5. Should you make it poetic?

This is an area of huge debate among experienced marketers.

A catchy name is obviously easy to remember.

FedEx rhymes. Krusty Kremes has alliteration. Ikea has exotic flair.

But these are massive brands with massive budgets to drive home the customer benefits of what they offer. Personally I feel that a new small business name shouldn’t be too cute or clever - nightclubs, bars and coffee joints are exceptions - and focus on a gut-level, emotion-tugging, benefit-related name that pulls customers right from the start.

Here’s the acid test for your name idea:

When a customer hears the (proposed) name of your business, do they immediately go, “I want/need that service now”? Imagine you are in a book store and see a book’s title and immediately think, “Wow, I want that book” - before you’ve even opened it. That’s the kind of reaction you’re after in testing so don’t rush it and keep testing until you’re getting that kind of reaction.

Bonus Extra Principle:

When you do build in the specific benefit into your new business name and/or slogan after testing, make sure you can actually deliver on it. Remember that you want to be creating word-of-mouth endorsement marketing ‘disciples’ and not antagonists bad-mouthing your operation.

What are your thoughts about new business names?
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Old 07-21-2008, 10:36 AM
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Great post for all new business owners to read. Definitely full of helpful tips that I'll consider the day I start my own biz!
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Old 07-21-2008, 11:25 PM
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>>eg Sue Smith Accounting becomes Instant Cash Tax Refunds<<

I disagree. Successful professional services are best left with a conservative business name, usually consisting of a persons name. I'd be more apt to do business with an accountant if they had a conservative name, versus "Instant Cash Tax Refunds" which just sounds like a scam.
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Old 08-01-2008, 12:27 AM
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I agree with both points. Some businesses need a creative name, but others need a more conservative name.

It really depends on the image and style of the company, along with the industry. Sometimes, you have to follow suit with the competition such as a law firm or doctor's office.
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Old 08-08-2008, 11:07 AM
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Default Domain Names

I'd just like to reiterate the importance of having a memorable, and spellable, name which also can be obtained as a tidy url. In this age of the Internet, our clients need to be able to find us quickly on the net, preferably by adding ".com"

If possible, avoid domains like .net, .us, and certainly .biz. If you're a non-profit organization, .org is perfectly suitable, but it would be great to get the .com as well.

Some companies add little words like "the" and "online" to their domain names. if you can, avoid doing this as well.

Initials or abbreviations are sometimes a necessary evil, but I find that a short 4- or 5- letter url can actually be very useful.
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Old 08-08-2008, 11:16 AM
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Forgot to mention that, in my opinion, there are no iron-clad "rules" for naming a business. However, the overarching commandment is that your name should be appropriate.

For example, most law firms feature the name of at least one partner/founder. However, advertising and web design agencies can sound more like a band name than simply a list of the founders.

Using location-based names can be great way to leverage your local market. Naming your shop Manhattan Bagel, for instance, attaches certain brand attributes instantly. However, using generic locations (First Avenue Accountants) can sound boring and fairly pedestrian. (But if you're a deli or newstand, go ahead and use the street address. Restaurants like to do this as well so that patrons can remember the address easily and come back. Think about places like "Bar 24" (on 24th St.) in your city)
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Old 08-11-2008, 04:20 AM
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aika aika is offline
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Thanks for the tips! Choosing a business name must take into consideration also, it is part of your business image.
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Old 08-12-2008, 12:47 AM
Vivid Color Zack Vivid Color Zack is offline
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Someone mentioned being sure to use easily spelled words, that's a GREAT point. I read somewhere that the average person will miss-spell a word in an address every 7 letters. That's a good incentive to keep your address short and sweet
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Old 08-14-2008, 10:40 AM
Opportunity World Editor Opportunity World Editor is offline
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I agree with scottperezfox , one of the biggest problems people have when trying to name a business is finding the appropriate Web site to match the name. There's nothing worse than when you come up with something really catchy and you know that the .com is going to be taken. Even if you purchase the .net, 75% of people will instinctively assume that the .com is better, older or more reputable (so you better hope they don't have the same product or service that you do).

I think this is the reason why we've seen a huge increase in slightly offbeat names for companies. Some of those Web hosting companies are getting really out there nowadays.

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Old 08-16-2008, 05:34 AM
DaisyDicor DaisyDicor is offline
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THATS A LOT OF INFORMATION THAT YOU HAVE SHARED WITH US... It is very useful for me as a newbie in online marketing. I need not go to an expert to consult, you have such great information with you...

Do share much more...

I would love to "Take the challenges and become successful in internet business from the winning ideas."

Last edited by DaisyDicor : 08-25-2008 at 12:41 AM.
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