Eighty-one: thatís how many business names I considered until I got the right one. I was exhausted with the process of thinking through things such as, ďWhat is my brand? What is its personality? What are the values I want to portray?Ē Every name I tried was either taken or didnít seem right.
It took me months. I brainstormed ideas, looking them up on the Companies House register to see what was available and also to get inspiration. I thought about names on long country walks with my Beagle, Ivy. The only thing I didnít do was run names past anyone. Iím a big believer that on certain things you trust your own gut instinct.
Then, on a whim, I went rogue and decided to name it after my pet pig. Being so personal is against all branding advice and a pig has nothing to do with what I do for a living Ė but I felt it was quintessentially me. Having a pet pig is what Iím known for, itís what people I meet always want to know about and Iíd like to think my business has some of the best qualities of pigs - being smart, sociable and down-to-earth.
By adding a couple of words, I made it relevant to my industry and so Listening Pig Communications was born. And it just felt right. Since then, Iíve had numerous compliments and it has aroused interest and many questions.
Itís a very useful ice-breaker, whenever I meet people at networking events they ask why I decided on the name. Plus most people love stories and having an interesting backstory to your business name helps them remember you.
It taught me that the name you choose can instantly open or close doors.
Many businesses have nailed finding the best name Ė such as my local dog groomer Short Bark & Sides. Itís a perfect name: you know exactly what service it offers and itís pitched at its target audience by being funny and instantly shareable on social media.
So if youíre about to name your business, here are a few mistakes to avoid:
Even if itís meant to be quirky and hilarious, misspellings cause a raft of problems down the line. Itís funny for a while but not so funny when potential customers try to type in your website name and end up somewhere entirely different. If you have to spell it out, change it.
These can work for some businesses but think carefully about the image it portrays. A hairdresser in Leeds is called Curl Up and Dye, which is funny at first but I doubt itís how most people want to feel when having their hair done.
Avoid picking a name that, when typed into a search engine, returns 10 other similar companies. Youíre starting out, so your website may be pages and pages away. If customers have to try too hard to find you, they will give up.
Youíve used your motherís auntieís maiden name because it means a lot to your mum that the name lives on. But it has nothing to do with what you do. If you must go down this route, add a word that explains what you do so that itís obvious what your business is about and so potential customers using search engines can find you.
ďIt was called Ö erm Ö something like Ö sorry I canít remember.Ē Not great if you rely on referrals is it?
Refusing to change it (even though customers tell you itís rubbish)
Youíve registered a name and youíre fairly well established but a few trusted customers have told you it doesnít suit what you do or that itís weird. You think itíll be costly to change so you donít bother. Change it! Do it slowly over a period of time, piece by piece, and you can keep costs down. For example, once your existing supply of business cards has run out, order a new pack with the new name. Same for any marketing materials. Tweak the name on your website in key areas once youíre ready and have time. Introduce yourself to new clients with your new name. It will be worth it.
Meaningless jargon or acronyms
IT Solution anyone? Solution to what? And acronyms Ė they may work for big, well established businesses such as KFC, MTV and ITV, but if youíre starting out, unless you spell it out, how will anyone know what you do?
The best and the worst Ė you decide
I asked my friends for examples of good and bad business names. Here are their answers:
Rumples Ink Skin (tattoo parlour, Middlesbrough)
Wong Fook Hing Bookstore (Hong Kong)
Abrakebabra (Irish driving school)
Curl Up and Dye (hairdresser)
Scissor Sisters (hairdresser)
All Pizzas Great and Small (North Yorkshire)
Get Stuffed (takeaway)
Sweeney Dog (dog groomer)
Jasonís Donervan (Bristol)
Iron Maidens (ironing and laundry shop)
Mr Hand Job (car washing business)
Alan Cartridge (computer shop, Leeds)
Wright Hassell (solicitor, Leamington Spa)
Bee Jays Scaffolding (Leeds)
Toniís the Guy (barber, Oxford)
Hairport (on the way to Leeds Bradford Airport)
Flat Boy Skim (plastering business)