Steps To Choosing the Right Name for a Business

How to choose your business name

Choosing the right name for a business must be planned carefully. A good name is wonderful but a great name so much more. One may never know the extent to which the name of a business might encourage or discourage a potential customer. In this article, you will learn about the steps to choosing the right name for a business.

Most entrepreneurs rarely consider that it takes a long time for people to come to love your ‘unpronounceable’ business name. While this might not be entirely a bad idea, what smart entrepreneurs do is to be very creative with the naming. They do this by removing misrepresentation, friction and controversy, thus creating a smooth road for it to fly.

Having a strange name is actually very daring and it positions your business as a unique brand. But you need people to remember the name;. In addition, you need to be creative enough for Google to associate your name with the relevant keywords. Also, you need to be sure everyone can pronounce it. You need to ensure that is has no negative connotations elsewhere.


You may be wondering that some businesses get away with this. The truth is that most businesses that use strange names usually have big budgets to push it up our noses. There are no rules, but you need to think hard enough before settling for a name. This process is worth the consideration to avoid infringement lawsuits, misrepresentation and the cost of re-branding later.

Approaches to Choosing the Right Name for a Business

There are three basic approaches in choosing a business name:

Direct approach:

Plain dumb simple. This is the straight forward, no thinking approach. Your name is what you do – plain and simple. Using this approach, one chooses a name that reflects what the company is involved in.

Blank approach:

This involves choosing an abstract name that doesn’t tell what a company is involved in. Example is Apple Inc., makers of Apple computers.  (Apples are in no way connected with computers)

Coining a name approach:

Here, you just put words together to form a new word that didn’t exist before, like Skype.

Pointers on Choosing the right name for a business

Now that you know the different types of ways to name a business, here are some pointers on what to look out for when choosing a business name:

1. Cognitive fluency is key

Cognitive fluency is a study in psychology that measures how easy it is to think or say something. Studies have shown that shares in companies with easy to pronounce names do significantly well than those of companies with hard to pronounce names. In naming a company, it is therefore important that the name should be easy to remember like Facebook, YouTube, and Channels.

2. Be original

It is important that the name given to a company is original, i.e. the owner’s idea. This helps in distinguishing a new business from an existing one.  However, if an existing name must be used, modifications can be made such as introduction of graphic elements and addition of words or letters. The problem in using an existing name for a new business is that people might not be able to tell the difference,. If the two businesses are in different sectors, then this problem might be minimal.


3. Make it a legal name

Before you spend a lot of money on branding and publicity, try to do a name search, a trademark search and an availability check for the domain name. Once you find it is available, lock it down! Do everything to get it registered. This simple step can save you the cost of similarities and infringements later.

4. Ask for people’s opinion

You can also use a focus group to find out what people think the business should be called, bearing in mind that the customer is king. The whole process of deciding can be made easier for the focus group when there are options to choose from.

5. Let your name speak for you

It will be great if the name gives an idea about what you are involved in. While there are successful names that draw blanks, (e.g. Quora, Nokia),  you will need to work extra hard to ingrain the name in the mind of your target audience. Descriptive names are a quick way to get your name registered on the lips of every one.

6. Does the first alphabet matter?

Sometimes it does. Every time Zygna appears on a list of games, it’s always last. Some companies will get a lot of traction because they will always be named first.

7. Is it ‘web’ compliant?

It important to do a name search online and pay attention to how your new name looks or will be pronounced and spelt online. Some names carry mixed messages and you do not want to join this list.

These are my two cents, but ultimately, the choice of what to name your business is a balance of the people who will use it and your will to get it out into the open. This will also determine the success of the name you choose. If you are not still sure what to do, you can use a business name generator. This tool helps you to generate a name and also checks the availability of the domain name at the same time.

What are your own thoughts? Heard of any funny names that succeeded? You can use the comment section to list them.

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Feature post image: legalzoom