How To Choose A Name For Your Business

Name Your Business

You have an awesome idea for a business, you just need to decide on a name for it! Sound like a familiar problem?

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!

Why SproutSpire?

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.

carlie-japan-2 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.

Consider Spelling

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.

No Comments

Vijesh

Hi Carlie,

happy to know the reason behind sproutspire I thought it might have emerged from inspire but you said it means height so you help people to grow their business to good heights. I too used to face similar kind of situation when i try different combinations and all were used up. Your idea on dropping Misato Designs is good and than people who gave the feed back to drop as you have mentioned in your article regarding spelling it would have been hard to spell. I also see that we don’t use words like receive, business as these are spelled wrong by many people and we have the chances of loosing some good traffic because of choosing hardly spelled words or words were people make lot of mistakes.

Glad to know that you were a English teacher, I always think if at all I am like those of native English speakers how good it would have been but its ok I manage a bit with my English. I just felt happy regarding your English subject because I am also a teacher not English, i used to teach Physics.

I also wanted a short name to one of my business and I choose minisma it is shortcut for mini and small actually it means minimizing your efforts to small in short minisma. it is short and easy to spell. i though the name should be not more than 7 words and I planned it in that way.

Anyways thanks for your tips Carlie…

This post reminds me of one of my guest posts which I did long back on how to choose a domain name.

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Tim Bonner

Hey Carlie

That’s some great points about using your own name as your business name.

I hadn’t thought about it from the point of view of the future.

I was advised the best thing to do was to set up online as myself for branding purposes – “You are the brand” or something along those lines.

Too late to go back now, I’d say. Doh!

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Jen

Picking out a name, especially for a business that’s in the social media or website design arena can be a nightmare. It took me ages to come up with something. Everything is taken or too close to what I wanted to call my business. I finally landed on something but I had to do the word association thing for days. Good luck with your new business!

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Hermine

Hi Carlie, although I like the word “Misato” I think you made a good choice in naming your business SproutSpire. It certainly captures the essence of what your business is about and is easy to remember and that is important.

I’m not a fan of misspelled names and numbers when it comes to naming businesses. I think it’s too easy to get funky spellings wrong.

When I started my business as a copywriter, I originally called my business Creative Content Labs but, it just didn’t feel that personal to me. I like using my own name as my business at this time and for me this works because I have a pretty unique and memorable name.

Having come from the interior design world where many designers run their business under their own names but often employ many staff members to aid in their design work – using your name can be a benefit regardless of whether you work solo or grow your business to include employees.

And if you think about it many successful businesses are based on people’s names or last names i.e. Montgomery Wards, J.C. Penny, Chase Bank, Charles Schwab – those businesses are so successful that I doubt they’d have an issue exchanging hands if they decided to sell the business.

Ultimately though, you have to do what feels best for you and who’s to say that you can’t have multiple businesses or arms of your business with different names either, right?

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SproutSpire

Hi Vijesh,

Thanks for commenting. Nice to see another teacher

I feel sorry for those who have “entrepreneur” in their business name! What a word.

Love your comments

Reply

SproutSpire

Tim,

There are definitely pluses and minuses for everything. I would say that if you are being your brand then your name can be fine. After all, you are selling yourself, in a way.

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SproutSpire

Hi Jen,

Thanks for commenting.

I can be terrible with coming up with names, titles, etc. It can seem like everything good is taken. But, I guess everything obviously good is taken. It takes work to come up with something original! But worth it when you do.

Good luck,

Carlie

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SproutSpire

All in all, when it comes to naming your business, a lot of people put so much effort in it but it doesn’t matter so much in the long run. A good name, I would say, is invisible.

Thanks for commenting Hermine

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Jennifer Kennedy

Hey Carlie!!

Great name story! And, BTW, I also taught abroad — in Africa. I’m itching to get over to Asia. It’s on my bucket list!

I really wanted my website to be my name, but alas, I have a very common first and last name and it was taken. So, I stressed over it. I asked for advice, asked for play on words. And then one day I just decided to stop stressing over it.

I came up with Teach Good Stuff when I was sitting down at the library. I was thinking back on when I was an elementary school teacher. I was teaching a writing lesson and a student stood up and said, “Ms. Kennedy, you teach us some good stuff.” And, there you have it! I credit a 9 year old for my website name!

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Carlie Hamilton

I love your name. It is simple and it explains exactly what you are about!

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Lee

Hi Carlie,__We’re currently in the final stages of naming a new business – so this is a particulary timely post.__Having named a previous company using my own surname, I wouldn’t go down this path again. I can relate to your comments of always being in the foreground (Never had the problem about lying on the beach though) __Any thoughts on the advantages of using a company name that rates well as a search phrase?__Lee

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Carlie Hamilton

Hi Lee,
I think there are definite advantages in the sort term to having a name that is a search phrase. That is why a lot of people recommend them for niche sites (the type where you set them up and leave them). It is easier for people to find you because of your domain name.

I do believe in the long term they don’t matter as much. Especially if you are doing content marketing (blogging – you should eventually get picked up by search engines for what you are writing about).

What do you think?

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Lee

Hi Carlie

I think you’ve reinforced my opinion.

I can see how the ‘instant’ search results from a popular keyword would be advantageous. However any popular keyword that could be used in a domain seems to be already taken – including just about every variation you can think of!

My preference is for ongoing SEO optimised content to increase the sites visitors – the only drawback being the timeframe required. This also allows targeting of a range specific keywords – giving you a greater audience than one well selected domain name would

Lee

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