A name can be a very important part of your business. You have to love it because that is what you are going to be stuck with! But a good name can also convey the meaning of your business and the feeling of your business. A bad one may make you the butt of jokes. So choose wisely!
Part of the reason I wanted to write this post was because I wanted to share the origin of “SproutSpire”.
When I thought up the name I wasn’t aware of the other “sprouts” in the same sort of niche as this – I now know about quicksprout and sproutsocial. It may be that the creators of those names were drawn to them because of similar reasons as me.
I originally was going to call my business Misato Designs. I still love that name. The meaning behind the name was I used to teach English in Japan in a small town called Misato. That is special to me. The characters in the word “Misato” mean something similar to “beautiful place” or “beautiful home”. My business was to be webdesign, and I loved the idea that I would be creating a beautiful “home” on the internet for my clients – even if they had no idea that was the meaning behind the name.
However, the feedback I got from 100% of the people I talked to was “I am just worried that people wont go to you because your name sounds foreign.” How sad is that? It is really disheartening that that is the first thing people think of. I know that these people are only trying to look out for me, but honestly, I don’t want clients who think like that.
The reason I decided to change it to something else was because I wanted to step away from the “designs” aspect of the name. I knew that while web design was going to be apart of my business, it wasn’t going to be the only aspect of it.
I went back to the drawing board. I spent weeks trying to think of a new name. I was just thinking about words and concepts that I liked. A lot of what I thought of had been thought of before and was taken already. I really liked “blue” and tried to come up with a combination of words that would go with blue (all the good ones were taken). I also really liked the idea of nature and houses (from Misato). I fell in love with the idea of a digital tree house (a digital home on the web for your business), but again, every angle I could think of was taken.
The idea of trees turned into “sprout”. I loved the thought of helping people “grow” their business online. I have a metaphor that I haven’t quite got right in words yet – it is about a business being like a tree. You need a good set of roots (a good foundation) from which to grow… My business would help sprout businesses develop their roots… This thought is still a work in progress currently.
Again, I tried to come up with a word that I could put with “sprout”. I highly recommend this website for word associations – I can’t remember the journey I took on that website, but it finally showed me the word “spire” and I fell in love.
Spire is the top of the tallest tower – the height we want to achieve in our businesses. But it is also short for “inspire”, something that I also wish to do for businesses. To me it seemed perfect. And it was. There is no other SproutSpires out there, at least at the time of this post! I am unique and loving it!
SproutSpire as a business is still evolving, still trying to find it’s sweet spot, but I love the name.
Choosing A Name For A Business
When I was trying to come up with a business name I searched the web for help and inspiration. I want to share with you some of the ideas that I have absorbed to help you come up with the best name for your business.
Choose Your Own Name?
If you are your business, then your name can be a powerful name for your business. But I would also think carefully about choosing your name as the name of your business. If you choose your name, you will always be in the foreground. This is great if it is what you want, but think far into the future. There may come a time when you want to take all the millions you have made, sit back on a beach and relax as others take care of your business. And don’t think that is so far fetched. In fact, one of your goals should be to automate your business to operate without you – so that you can enjoy a lifestyle that you have always dreamed!
Another point to consider with using your own name is when the time comes to sell it will be harder. You may be thinking that you may never want to sell, but who knows what the future might hold. You may grow tired of your business, or you come up with businesses that you love even more, or you just know it is time to move on. If you are the business, then it does become harder for you to sell it.
If you are a coach, or a celebrity, or something similar to that, then using your name may be the best choice. In these cases you are trying to market yourself, and if you change then your business adapts around you.
Remember, you can always use your name and yourself to help promote your business, but you don’t have to have your name in your business.
Descriptive or Abstract?
Should you name your business something that describes what you do, or some awesome word that sort of means nothing… Sometimes I think it would be nice to have called my business something more literal to what I provide. That way when people type my keywords into search engines I am more likely to pop up from the start. But there are many names out there that do not mean anything or their meaning isn’t what the business is exactly about.
When brain storming for my own business I thought about all the different brands out there from “Google” to “Nike” to “Canon”.
I think that a literal name is a huge help in the short term. To me, I was in it for the long term, so hopefully in the future when people in my niche here “SproutSpire”, they know what I am about.
One thing to note, I have noticed an abundance of names ending in “ly” or “ify” – in fact at one stage I was trying to come up with a word that captured what I did, and add one of those type endings to it. In the end I couldn’t come up with anything, but you may have better luck.
Including A Location In Your Name
Having a location in your name can increase your appeal to people in that region. I know when I see a business or a person in business online who is based in Brisbane, Australia (where I live), then I have a deeper look at who they are and what they do. And I am more likely to champion for them. Including a location can be a powerful way to target customers.
However, what if in the future you want to expand your business? Again, never assume that you wont. If you have done it in one location, why not replicate the business in another location and earn twice as much? Think about the future and think big, otherwise you pigeon hole yourself into a narrow corner that you can never get out of – well at least not easily.
When you say your business name to people you want them to be able to find you later. If you are considering using strange spellings of words, misspellings of words, or using numbers, make sure that you make it easy for people to find you. While dropped letters (tumblr) are popular, and added letters (fiverr), you have to be sure that people can find you or else your name is useless. When including numbers in your name, consider if it is logical for people to type out the number (“one”) or if they are going to just use the number (1).
Above all make sure that your business name is easy to spell. Give “Cheallwynz” a miss.
On a side note, if you are using a made up word, it is wise to consider if it is an actual word in another language, or if it is similar to another word in another language. Think of place names that are rude/funny for English speakers but innocent in the countries where they are located (Although I have been to Hell, Michigan, USA – insert comment here about always knowing Hell would be located in the USA?!).
Keep It Short
People have so much to remember, don’t make it hard for them to remember you. A short name is not only easier to remember, it is easier to not get wrong. Oh, and it is easier to retweet in twitter.
Make It Visual
You want to evoke something visual or a feeling when people hear your name. What kind of image do you want to represent? Do you want to be strong and dependable? Do you want to be outgoing and fun? Do you want to convey a sense of expertise? Think about what it is that you want people to think when they hear your name and use words that symbolise those feelings.
Appeal To Your Customers
More important that you liking it, it has to appeal to your potential customers. The perfect way to find out if it is a good name is to ask the people you will be targeting what they think. You can simply tell them “I’m starting a new business called NAME” and see what their reaction is to the name if you want, or you can ask them specifically what they think to get a deeper insight. Make sure your name attracts the kind of people you want to attract.
Check Your Name Is Available
Before you go checking to see if your name is available as a domain, and on twitter, it is probably also best to check if you are able to call your business that name at all! In Australia we have a national register at ASIC. Once you get the OK from there, you can then have a look online to see how your name is currently being used, if at all. Make sure it is not being used by similar companies – at the very least you don’t want to be confused with them, or associated with them if their service is sub par! You can also use a service like Mention to monitor what people are saying about your potential business name.
I do think that you should let it sit for a day or two more before you commit – I have gone in before with a name that I was certain was awesome, only to regret it at a later stage. I took my time with SproutSpire and I couldn’t be happier.
How Did You Come Up With Your Name?
If you have a story behind your business’ name, let me know in the comments. Likewise, if you are trying to decided on a name, feel free to name your niche and your potential name, and myself and other commentators would love to give you our impressions and thoughts.