Saturday, May 20, 2017

Eight questions to ask when choosing a name

Whether you are starting a new business or organization, an early choice that you must make is what name to use.  Here are eight questions to ask yourself as you consider a name for your business, club or organization.
  1. Is the name descriptive?  If someone hears the name, and did not otherwise know about your organization, would they have an idea about what it about?
  2. Is it positive? If two names are equally descriptive, but one has a more positive connotation, then go with that. But be careful about being so positive others will regard the name as silly or frivolous. Ideally your name should be 'feel good' positive, as in the most effective media advertisements.
  3. Is it easy to remember? If you expect people to tell others about your service, or to look for it on the web, it helps if they can easily remember the name. People being able to spell it is important too! I registered the name and domain, and it was in many ways a good name for the service: unique, part of our story line, available, legal.  But people unfamiliar with the name have constantly misspelled it!
  4. How unique is the name?  You don't want confusion between you and someone else, so this argues for a name that is easily differentiated from others. Be creative as a team when choosing a name for your startup.
  5. Is the name available?  This is necessary but sometimes overlooked.  You want the name to be available both as one that can be registered as a trademark and/or business name in your region, but also as a domain name and possibly on social media, for example as a Twitter handle. 
  6. Can it be abbreviated?  Some names can naturally be abbreviated, and that is usually a plus,  helping make the name easy to remember.  Make sure that the abbreviation will itself not be a negative though (some time ago a Canadian political party almost adopted the name Canadian Reform Alliance Party).
  7. Is it legal? You are not allowed to use a name that would be deliberately confused with another business or organization. Before registering your business name this will be checked, but it is good at the outset to make sure your name is not too similar to an existing name that operates in a similar business.
  8. What TLD is natural for your venture? You should think about the domain name at the same time as you consider the company, brand, or organization name. Now that we have many top level domain (TLD) choices, you should ask yourself if one of these makes more sense than the generic ones. For example, if in the design business. surely a name ending in .design makes sense, or if you are naming a new club, why not use a .club TLD?
Picking names is both easy and hard! It's easy, because you start with a good knowledge of what you want the name to reflect, and probably already one or more choices in mind. It's hard because there are so many potential options, and the choice will be important to the success of your venture.

You should be involved, so never farm out the entire name selection process to outside firms.  That being said, those with experience and expertise can provide invaluable expertise.  Even if you decide not to hire a name consultant, you should at the very least bounce your proposed names off colleagues and friends.  This is too important a decision to base only on your opinion, no matter how creative and smart you are!

The Canadian Business Network have a helpful short post that includes their take on questions to ask yourself when choosing a name, along with the legal requirements with respect to business names in the various provinces.

Want a second opinion? This article in Entrepeneur on 8 mistakes to avoid when naming your business is well worth a read.

This site is about giving you help as you decide on the name that will represent your business, service, or organization. 

In all our posts please feel free to comment, even if you disagree with the advice we offer!

The Fine Print: We are an education service, and nothing you read here should be considered individual legal or business advice. Briefly our background is that we have owned a business, managed numerous websites, and registered many domain names. While every attempt has been made to be current and accurate, any details important to the reader should be independently verified. We are members of Google Adsense, so you will see some ads from them on these pages, and also are members of several affiliate programs including Amazon, HostPapa, and Namecheap. We only join affiliates if we use that service ourselves, and have had a positive experience.  Unless we explicitly indicate otherwise in a post, we have not been offered compensation by any company or organization for any post or recommendation.

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