Clever business names and clear brands

A lot of start-up business can face the difficult decision over what to call their business. For some it is not an issue. Some inherit or acquire an existing business name. Others simply add their name to their service and there it is. But some face the task of having to name their business from scratch. For some this can be confusing and lead to endless focus on names, variations on names and trying to create a “clever” business name.

At this stage what can be useful is to just brainstorm. Include anything you can think of without prejudice and then when you have exhausted all the names you can, only then evaluate them.
If you’re totally at a loss then try my four step guide to delivering imaginative, creative but at the same time realistic and relevant names:
1. About the stuff you sell/service you provide. Might suggest words like “great road bicycles and coffee”
2: About you the owner. Your name, your preferences, favourite names. Might suggest names like “Rob’s green cycling machine”
3: About the place. Either location, names or history of. Might suggest words like “historic market town“
4: About your customers. Might throw up names like “enthusiasts, road warriors, families and commuters”
Once you start thinking along these lines quite a few suggestions will start to flow, just note them all down and then later you can review them.

You do need some clear criteria to be able to review these names. An essential one is any legal restrictions. Another one might be if the web domain is available. Remember something that sounds recognisable and meaningful to you is likely to have the same effect on others. From our example certain themes start to be identifiable, so maybe a name like “Green Bikes” or “Commute Central” might be names to consider. The thing at this stage is not to get too hung up on “creating a brand”. The branding will follow and be about what you do, how you do it and your reputation. Just creating a name doesn’t create a brand. If you’re stuck, along the lines of “I have a small business but I need everyone to know about it and need a name to makes this happen” then maybe you need to rethink and look at the essential questions like what is my business, what am I offering and to whom?

Once you have a name then you can start to make it distinctive. As in our example maybe you’re located in a market town. So part of your marketing will be to talk about the quality of your location, in a small easy to find location, while being close enough to the big city to be local. And you do damn fine coffee. So already you’re adding value to your brand. If you’ve recently been through any of this, or have experience of doing this, drop us a comment and share your thoughts.