Small Business Naming StrategiesChoosing the right name for your small business is a big consideration. A rose by any other name . . . might not be a customer’s first choice when ordering flowers. The advent of the internet has created lots of small business opportunities and more than a few important concerns when naming a business. In the digital age, you can’t rely on passersby to realize that you sell balloons by the way they’re fluttering across your display window, and it’s hard to associate the name Bill’s Hot Air Shoppe with party supplies if you aren’t already in on the joke. You want a catchy, witty, and distinctive name for your business, but your quest for the perfect combination of letters should also include a few other important considerations.

Tips for Naming Your Small Business

Is the name available – It’s important to discover if you can annex the name you want in your state of operation long before you start pricing signs and printing up letterhead, business cards, and tee shirts.

Lock down trademarks and domains – A little research now will save you plenty of headaches in other areas too. Remember, you may want to expand into other regions, markets and even abroad, and to do that you will need to create a clear relationship between your company (and product name) and the marketplace. While you’re still in research mode, think big and choose a name that will give you a clear field for expansion. Better yet, set aside part of your budget to start claiming domains and doing trademark research now so you won’t have a potential hassle on your hands later.

For more information on choosing your domain name and obtaining trademark rights, check out these past posts: “Choosing a Domain Name” and ” Trademarking Your Logo.”

Keep it simple – There’s some cache in hitting a trend with your naming strategy or coming up with a witty made-up name, but both of these gimmicks can backfire. You don’t see many surviving businesses around that have the word “groovy” in their titles. There’s a good reason for that. You can bet “really in” phrases go “really out” fast. To avoid labeling yourself obsolete before the paint dries on your sign, circumvent the hype and stick with a name that’s generally descriptive and easy to understand. Acronyms can work too, but they’re so prevalent these days that your business might get lost in the shuffle if you rely on a jumble of alphabet letters to define your brand.

Use some flair – Having said that, it’s important to keep your naming strategy simple, there’s some danger in choosing a name that’s too generic. Make it too straightforward and you risk being confused with other companies that use the same or similar words in their names. Acme Beer, Acme Brew and even Acme Suds may put you at the top of the alphabet, but once you get there it’ll be hard to stand out based on your name alone.

Making up great names (and slogans) is an art, but you can still craft one yourself with some time and effort. Here’s a creative exercise that can help: Start assembling a list of words and terms that describe your products, business philosophy, industry, and what you think sets you apart. Keep them to three words or less. Now, make up a set of index cards with one phrase (or word) per card. Shuffle the cards, and start putting them side-by-side in different order. You might get lucky and hit on the perfect name that’s available, immediately recognizable in your industry, fresh, memorable and easy to spell.

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