Sunday, December 16, 2012

Characteristics of a good name for a small business

A business name is something you're stuck with for a long time - you CAN change it, but it's expensive (to change all that branding) and risky (because you lose any established knowledge of your name in the market). So it's worth putting some thought into, not just from a creativity perspective, but from a practical approach too.

I was chatting to a small business owner yesterday and she had a whole host of potential names for her re-launched business. I had a look through and instantly a few stood out above the rest. As I explained the reasons why to her, I thought it would be worth a post here to share what the same thoughts.

Characteristics of a good business name

- Keep it short. If you can keep it to one or two words, try to do this. The longer it gets, the harder it is for people to remember and they tend to mix it up. For example, I used to work with Flexicar. Great name. Except first it was "Flo car share" (yes, missing the "w"). Which people used to call "Flow carshare" "Flow sharecar" "Car flow share". It got too painful. The moment we switched to Flexicar, everyone got it right, every time.

- Memorable. Being a little bit different or quirky makes it memorable or catchy. But if it's TOO quirky, you'll find people won't get it right.

- Use real words that describe your business if you can. Don't make people have to think too hard to work out what it is that you do. Be as specific as you can. There is a temptation to keep it general, like I did with Brazen Productions, as I planned to do a lot of things. However, if I had my time again, I'd make it Brazen Marketing as this is largely what I do.

- Don't get too tricky with the spelling. I've already given an example above with Flo car share. People also try to replace "s" with z or x, or add lots of additional letters. Not ideal as when people are talking about your business, as you need to reply upon them to convey the odd spelling. It can work - Grill'd for example - as they have a retail presence with their name displayed all over it. But they also bought the URL grilled.com.au just in case.

- The URL is available. This is getting harder and harder, but it is one of the most important elements for businesses that rely on being "found". Ideally you'd buy the .com and .com.au if you can. If you're a business that relies heavily on online leads, consider buying misspellings too. (If you're a one person show, and most of your business comes through personal referral or handing out your card, then this is less important.)

There are exceptions to all of these - but they tend to be businesses that have a LOT of money to spend to build awareness, or businesses that have been around a long time. A name isn't everything, but it can be a cheap shortcut to instantly promote what you do, which is why it's an ideal zero budget marketing approach.

A final word. Don't spend forever agonising over it, or a logo. Think about it. Test it out of a few people who DON'T know what you do and see if they can pick what your business might be. Then choose something and move on to the business building part.

1 comment:

Shantelle Lapointe said...

It's quite noticeable that the business who stands out in the market are those who have interesting, and easy-to-remember names. They follow it up with good and smooth flowing advertising and marketing campaigns. In other words, the name is the first important thing for a product or business.

Shantelle Lapointe