The Business Naming Dos, The Business Naming Don’ts

You and your spouse have probably had baby names picked out since before the positive test. You’ve shuffled through this pet name and that one to find just the one that fits the face of your furry new friend. Business naming works this same way–it’s your baby.

As a small business owner you have an initial chance to lay the foundation for the success of your company with its name. No pressure. 

Just like the name of a person, it carries the very root of a business’s identity. Also, like a person, you may not name your business for what it is, but instead for the future you envision for it. Do you think Bernard Arnault’s mom named him Bernard because she thought it was an adorable name for her infant? No, she chose him name to set him up to make billions of dollars and run successful businesses one day. (No offense to any children named Bernard.)

Naming anything ain’t easy, but there are some clear and common mistakes that we’d like to address so they don’t get made any longer.

Name Your Business … But Not Like This

Consulting the Collective

The identity of your business is not up for debate, at least not to your closest company. Sure, input can be helpful, but the fact of the matter is, nobody knows your business better than you. Including friends and family on such a big decision can muddy the waters when it comes time to decide.

The Plain, Boring Text

There’s a recent trend in boiling down a company to a definitive descriptor word. (Sup or Burger, you get the idea). This can be extremely effective, if you choose the right word. If you deliver a very specific product, even better! But it gets tricky with service companies that offer a large selection of services because the title doesn’t encompass the full capabilities of the business. (Burger serves fries and milkshakes too.)

business naming

Revealing Your Secret Weapon

If you’re a good business owner, then there’s no doubt you’re wildly passionate about the unique process or ingredient that sets you apart from the competition. But developing a name from this secret weapon will only dilute the power of it. Think of it this way: As people, we don’t walk around with our greatest characteristic plastered on our foreheads.  Avoid merging your best quality with your business name.

Defaulting to the Region

Typically, including the name of your state, town, or region in your business name can potentially place a cap on growth. This makes your company appear irrelevant once it expands past the region it’s named after. Plus it’s odd to see a Sacramento Pizza located in Florida. If you don’t plan on growing any larger than your town or state, then free to ignore this advice entirely. Although, consider the fact that there’s probably hundreds of other companies in your area using the region in their name too. Take the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.


Understanding the product or service that your company provides will help distinguish whether it can handle a more obscure name. Basic products, like cookies, should probably stay away from naming the company after the man who conducted the first train (because why is that relevant?). Companies offering creative services have more freedom with this, but as a general rule, try not to confuse your potential customers with things that don’t make sense.

Start From Scratch Invention

Creating a name out of thin air or combining two words to make something new can certainly work (look at Xerox!). However, because you are creating a whole new name, the business will have to rely heavily on advertising to “make a name” for its name. SEO will also present itself as more of an obstacle. Likewise, if you have a title that you can’t even spell, it’s safe to assume potential customers will have difficulty remembering your business at all.

Tips For Doing Business Naming The Right Way

Now that you know what to avoid when thinking about naming your business, let’s talk about what you should do. Follow these 4 tips to successful business naming.

Start With The Basics

No, we don’t want you to have the most cliche of business names in your industry, but the basics are a great place to start when going through the business naming process. What do you do? What is your brand’s personality and voice? And how do you want people to feel when they come across your name? As a toy making company, put the following components into consideration:

  1. You produce toys.
  2. Fun and lively is what you’re all about.
  3. And you’re looking to appeal to children and parents.

Bounce Around With Ideas

As a small business owner, you know the ins and outs of your brand better than anyone. But that doesn’t mean you’re the only one that has creative ideas about who you can be. Get around the table with your team, your friends and family, a bunch of strangers at a bar. Talk to anyone who will listen about your first rung of ideas. Pay attention to their first impressions and take them into consideration. After all, it’s a good test run to see what outside people think of your name and your brand. Test it out before you make anything official.

Take Your Time

You know what they say, no great decisions were made on a whim. (Is that what they say? It’s what we say.) But seriously, big decisions take time, consideration, and well thought-out strategy. Make a list of possible business names, then leave it alone. Don’t look at it, think about it, or dream about it for a couple of days. Then go back and look it over again. What sticks out to you as total Yuck? Are there a few that really hit home? When you give your idea-making mind some room to breathe, you come back with a fresh perspective and sharper creative brainpower.

Check For It’s Availability

It’s pretty comical how many businesses out there have the same name. How many Beauty Boutique Salons could there possibly be? Make sure to do your research before deciding on a business name. The last thing you want is to have the same name (or a similar one) to a business in your industry that already exists. Decide on a final name that is unique enough from your competitors so someone else doesn’t appear on Google first when a potential customer goes to find you on the internet.

The Business Naming Machines

Our team’s been around the block a few times, and boy have we seen some less than successful business names. If you’re a new business, or if you’re considering rebranding your existing business, take these common business naming mistakes into consideration, so you can skip that mess altogether.

And if you need some help, some people to bounce ideas off of, or just need someone else to outright name your awesome brand, or your baby (just kidding, we don’t name children) the Bareknuckle brains are all yours. Buy Us a Beer and let’s get started.