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How to Choosing Your Company Name

What is a Brand and Why Does it Matter? When you think of any big company, the brand is probably the first thing to come to mind. In fact, there are very few successful businesses that don’t have a prominent brand and it’s hard to imagine how a company could get big without investing in its image and creating an identify for itself. Despite this, many small businesses and internet businesses don’t take the necessary time to create a strong brand and a strong identity that they can use to drive their organization forward. Why? Often it comes down a lack of understanding. Not only do many businesses and entrepreneurs not understand how branding works; many also don’t understand just how important branding is.

Companies With No Identity It’s not hard to find companies that lack brands when you look online – or that haven’t invested the right time or effort into their branding. These are the websites that look horribly bland and generic: probably with dark blue and black writing on a white background. Their company name is something like ‘Johnson and Smith Co’ and their logo is probably some dull blue writing spelling out that company name. Oh and it’s probably a low res JPEG image too. It doesn’t exactly scream excitement and it calls to mind an image of a couple of burly blokes who put together an uninspired business with no aims of growing. They provide their service, no bells attached and then they move onto the next client. It’s actually kind of depressing…

Companies With LOTS of Identity

Now think about the companies that have become international house-hold names. These companies have exciting names like ‘Apple’, ‘Adidas’, ‘Coca-Cola’, ‘Nike’, ‘Microsoft’, ‘Disney’, ‘Nintendo’, ‘Red Bull’, ‘Starbucks’ and they have interesting and unique logos. Many of these logos have gone on to become almost cultural symbols and are now emblazoned on t-shirts and scrawled onto homework diaries around the world. The websites are in-keeping with this, so are the adverts and even the products conform to an identity. People look for these brands now as a sign of quality and because they know what to expect. Some people even consider themselves ‘fans’ of these brands and get behind them 100%. People just don’t feel that way about companies like ‘Johnson and Smith Co’.

Brands make you recognizable, they make it far easier to monetize and they give your business a cohesive vision that will drive you forward and that will win you fans. This is the power of branding and this is what we’re going to learn how to do for your own business.

What is a brand though? For many of us, the word brand calls to mind two things: a name and a logo. In fact though, these are not what is most important about your brand and neither is what you need to consider first when you set out to create your brand. So what is most important? That would be your ‘mission statement’. This is the single most important part of your branding and once you’ve worked this out, everything else should follow out from there simply. Let’s start there then.

Now you have your mission statement, you can start thinking about your company name. This should be something that describes what your business does but also evokes something more interesting and more exciting.

If you’re struggling to come up with anything, then you could try creating a mind map and adding related words and things you like the sounds of. From there you can try combining them in interesting ways, or using synonyms/portmanteaus etc. For instance, ‘Intel’ is related to the fact that the chips the company creates give computers ‘intelligence’. But then you have ‘Apple’ which is completely unrelated – in this case the assumption is that this would evoke the image of something fresh and clean. Steve Jobs said it was inspired by the fact that he was on a fruitarian diet and thought the word sounded ‘fun, spirited and not intimidating’.

So don’t just think about the mechanical parts of your business, but also the mission statement and the emotions you want to evoke. It’s a good idea to then come up with a few names and to try surveying your friends and relatives to see which they think is best. Remember, you name your business for your customers – not for yourself! Also important is to make sure your business name isn’t trademarked which you can do at your countries Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov/trademark).

You might also want to apply for a trademark yourself in future, which ensures that no one can use your company name (you can also trademark your logo). Another good tip is to check for whether the domain name is available for your chosen business name and think a little about things like SEO – how easy would it be for someone to search and find your business online? Calling yourself ‘Pear’ just wouldn’t work these days – Pear.com would be taken and you’d have an incredibly hard time showing up in searches. Unfortunately, you need to be a little practical about your business name as well as thinking about what evokes the best feelings!

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