The right name can make all the difference, but choosing a business name or practice name is hard. You want something unique but not so much that it’s hard to remember. You want to sum up the value and meaning of all you provide, but it has to be brief.
The right name is memorable and intriguing. For some reason it’s easy to think of hundreds of terrible options and dozens that might work but aren’t exactly right. At Spade Design, that’s not what we do. We’ll help you choose the business name or practice name that turns your new venture into a huge success.
Talk to an Expert
I can’t overemphasize how high the stakes are here. A Global Entrepreneurship Report (and a lot of other sources) says half of businesses fail in the first five years. If you’re starting a new business or practice, everything matters.
The right business or practice name can literally make or break your business. A mediocre name blends in with everyone else so consumers have no reason to choose you. A bad business name causes consumer frustration and alienates those who might otherwise become advocates. Settling for anything but the exact, precise, perfect name will cost you and you’ll regret it forever.
You’re an expert at what you do. We’re experts at explaining that to everyone else. It makes sense to cut through the headache, confusion and wasted resources and just talk to someone with a track record of success. Let’s start a conversation, you’ll be glad you did.
Commit to a Process
Choosing a business name or practice name might take hours or it could take months. It’s a creative process.
Artists, writers and others who make their living through creativity know rarely does inspiration come from just staring at a blank canvas or screen. They have a system for working through the fog.
They don’t quit because they feel tired or stuck. You shouldn’t either.
We’re about to share a systematic process for choosing a business name that helps you move in the right direction. You might not have to go all the way through. However, start by accepting that it’s a process and commit to a step-by-step approach until you find the name that’s right for you.
Learn Key Do’s and Don’ts
When you start to generate ideas, keep these principles in mind:
- Use traditional spelling — Customers will use that when they look for your website or map directions to your business. If you try to get clever with spelling, it could cost you business every single day.
- Avoid acronyms and nonsense words — Acronyms are easy to get mixed up. Nonsense words are hard to spell and easily forgotten. I recently heard of a new company in my area called LTD, and they’re impossible to find online because that’s such a common acronym. Don’t do that to yourself.
- Stay away from numbers. They can be spelled out or written as digits. Think of the potential problems when potential customers don’t know if they should Google “2,” “two” or “too.”
- Keep it brief — The shorter your name, the easier it is to remember. Successful brands like Coke, Dove and Apple keep it to one short word. More than one word is okay if every one counts, but be as succinct as possible.
- Check availability — When you think of one that’s a strong possibility, make sure no one already has that company name, practice name or domain name.
Focus On These Questions
When you’re choosing a business name, it’s not a bad idea to actually write down or type up the answers to the following:
- Who are you as a business owner?
- What do people experience when they enter your business or practice, use your services or interact with your product?
- What is your client like?
When you have your answers written down, post them where you can see them. As you propose ideas, make sure they fit with all three answers.
Know What’s Out There
If you’re choosing a business name or practice name, you’ve probably looked at the names similar businesses use. Owners tend to base names on their location, specialty, processes, personality or personal name.
Often location names are taken. “Tyler Roofing” and “New Orleans Dental Center” aren’t available, and they really aren’t very engaging. They can sometimes be combined with other words to tie your business to a location, but consider whether you might one day expand outside that geographic area.
Specialty-based names like “Tyler Neuro-Oncology Specialists” can be effective if they’re targeted and they sum up what you do. If that’s what I’m looking for, I certainly don’t want to have to remember any extra information. If you’re naming a practice, this is definitely an option to consider.
Process-based names are similar. “Stand-Up Open MRI” and “Spray-Foam Insulators” are examples that let you know what the business does and the process they use to reach their goal. We always advise businesses to identify what they do differently or better than the competition and use that in their branding. If your process is what makes you unique, your name should reflect that.
Personality-based business or practice names evoke a feeling or indicate something important to the owner. “Friendly Dental” makes patients think of a smiling practitioner instead of a drill. If you choose a personality characteristic as part of your name, that should be central to everything you do.
Business names based on the owner’s name can be a problem. If you have a common, easy-to-spell name like Jones, someone already has Jones Chiropractic or Jones’ Tacos. If the name you want to use is Sandsoveir it’s probably available, but it’s hard to spell, pronounce and remember. Plus, if you later decide to sell your business or transfer ownership to an heir with a different last name, it’s problematic. However, if you have a name that already receives recognition and attention, you might benefit from using it.
This is where you put pen to paper again, or keyboard to monitor if you prefer. Quit trying to think of one or two perfect words and just let your thoughts flow. It’s uncomfortable at first but stay at it.
Brainstorm possibilities for each category. You can skip business or practice names based on your own unless you have a really good reason for doing so. Sometimes post-it notes are helpful because you can move them around. A whiteboard gives the feeling of freedom because nothing is written in stone.
When you get to personality-based names, generate a list of things clients or customers might say to describe your store, employees or product. For processes, ask how your business or practice solves consumer problems.
Look for Metaphors
Step back and look at the word lists you’ve come up with. Ask yourself if there are objects or metaphors that represent those words. Take our own name for example. The phrase “in spades” means in abundance or in large quantities. A lot of people think it means piling something up in shovelfuls, but it actually comes from the suit of cards.
We don’t mind either association. The basic idea, either way, is that you start with a small quantity, Spade Design turns it into a huge harvest or extensive return in the best way possible. If you look at our logo you can probably figure out more about our roots, background and personality, but the basic metaphor is in the name.
Test Your Choices
If you started by talking to an expert, you already have a good sounding board for your ideas. If you’re generating your business name on your own, don’t just run it by your mom or spouse. Talk to people who are your ideal customer. Poll co-workers and investors.
Get Help Choosing a Business Name Today
People come to us when they’re choosing a business name or practice name because they want to get it right the first time. They don’t have days or months to spend brainstorming because they’re busy doing what it takes to get their business ready for launch. If that’s you, get in touch. We’ll help you choose a business name or practice name that makes you a lasting success.