I’m in the process of putting together a full series of how to start up a small business online—so bear with me as it may take awhile to get all of them out. But here’s the first of my 6-step series!
What to Name Your Company
It’s a pretty important question—the answer to which will (hopefully) last many years into the future. It can make or break your brand, so it’s a task not to be taken lightly.
Following are my tips for choosing a business name.
What to name your company – Approach 1: Nondescript Name
The first way is to choose a nondescript name/word that you like. Something that maybe vaguely sounds relevant to what you’re doing, but doesn’t shout out your product or idea in explicit details.
The main PRO of this type of business name is: if for any reason your business plan or products change, you can keep your business name and all the hard work you’ve put into it doesn’t have to be scrapped. This was the case with Fair Ivy — the business concept has changed quite significantly since inception, but the name has been able to stay the same, due to it not particularly meaning anything at all. It can become whatever I want it to become!
Another potential PRO to this approach is that your business name can come to MEAN something completely new to your customers….like creating an entirely new word for a dictionary. Good examples are the companies Xerox and Kleenex. Prior to these companies, the products for them were called copies and tissues—but now we can substitute the business name for the item itself, which means no-effort marketing. Obviously these are extreme large-scale examples, but in your specific niche your customers can also come to adopt your name.
How do I choose this name?
Well, you can always just brainstorm with friends and family members, or you could use a business name creator website such as Panabee.com which generates creative business names based on words you like, which should help you figure out what to name your company.
But before you settle on one, make sure the domain name is available for purchase—you can check domain availability on GoDaddy.com, which is where I register all my domain names. (Side note: GoDaddy also makes for a great hosting company—they are inexpensive and offer great phone customer service. I’ll go into more detail about setting up your website later).
What to name your company – Approach 2: Descriptive Name
In this scenario you choose a business name that pretty much tells your audience what you’re selling, right in the name of your product. So for Fair Ivy, had I gone this route we might have been called something like “Box a Month Subscription”.
The main PRO of this type of business is for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes. Which means that if someone were to type a search into google, and your company name was the search phrase (e.g. “Custom Screen Printed Shirts”), you’d have a lot easier of a time getting to the top of the returned results.
A second potential PRO to this approach is that if someday you decide to discontinue operating the business, the domain name and all it’s associated SEO strength might be able to be sold to someone new.
How do I choose this name?
If you really want to take advantage of the SEO potential, make sure you choose a name that isn’t already saturated or TOO desirable.
The best way I’ve found to do this is to sign up for a Google AdWords account. It’s a bit of a pain to do at first, but worth it for a multitude of reasons, some of which I’ll discuss in later posts. You don’t actually need to spend any money on Google Adwords if you don’t want to (I don’t, anymore). What you’re looking for at the moment is use of Google’s Keyword Planner.
On the landing page of the Keyword Planner, you can type in a phrase you think might be a good start for your business name. Enter any criterion you want (e.g. customer location, etc), and hit submit.
What you get is a page like this (click for a larger version):
You can mess around with some of the filters on the left, but the most important thing you’re looking for is something that has a decent number of monthly searches, but with a low competition rating.
For most of my blog posts, if I want them to show up in SEO without too much hassle on my end, I usually choose keywords that return 10-30 monthly searches, with low competition. Once I’ve made sure the post is SEO friendly, I just have to sit back and wait a few months for Google to do its page-crawling, and bam—I start getting visitors on my site who searched for the exact terms I planned them to. 10-30 monthly searches might be too low for you (it works for me because 10 visits a month x 10 or 100 blog posts starts adding up). But if it’s your company name you can probably aim for slightly bigger fish, like over 500 a month.
I understand that this step might be tricky, so if you need any help at all feel free to drop me a line (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I can get you sorted out.
That’s all I’ve got for you today folks!
I hope the above tips have been helpful in answering the big question of what to name your company. Whether the name was created via a random business name generator or via carefully analyzed SEO research—take your time to discuss your final company name with friends and relatives, to review any potential problems or drawbacks.
Until next time—when I discuss starting to get your business online via domain registration and hosting plan setup.