Business and EDU

A Business by Any Other Name Might Not Be So Sweet

Some business names are sweet. You know what the business does as soon as you read the name. You don’t have to guess what LBF Travel does. And, All the Best Web Design is self-explanatory. But if the business called itself All the Best, you wouldn’t have a clue. It could be a greeting card company, an assisted living facility or who knows what else.

Choosing a business name is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Here are some pointers to help you find the sweet business name that’s right for you.

Who Are You?

What does your business do? What is your mission? What are your products and/or services? What’s your primary function? Who are your customers? What is the purpose of your business? Come up with a list of words and short phrases that answer these questions. Your sweet business name is probably right there on the page staring you in the face.

It’s a Feeling

Your business name should not only be descriptive, but evocative as well. If possible, choose a name that induces pleasant feelings or fond memories. If people feel good after reading your business name, they’re more likely to give you more than a glancing look.

Be Creative Not Confusing

Large established companies have a lot of leeway that small businesses just don’t have. Made up words, acronyms, purposeful misspellings and other odd combinations often work for them because they have the reputation and marketing to stand behind them. Small businesses don’t have that luxury. New words can be confusing. Purposefully misspelled words are not search-engine friendly. Use familiar words and spell them correctly.

Dog-Eared Pages Used Books is a great example of a creative business name. You know Dog-Eared Pages sells used books. Avid readers, the store’s target customers, know exactly what “dog-eared pages” means. It’s a quirky, creative business name that gets it right.

Some creative names, however, miss the mark. BBQ’S Tanning Beds comes to mind.

How About Your Name?

A lot of small businesses incorporate the owner’s name. Harney & Sons Tea, for instance, is an example of a business that uses the family name to promote its tea blending expertise. But, family names don’t always work well. For example, the Slaughter Funeral Home conjures up more than a few creepy feelings. Think about how well your name relates to your products, services and, most importantly, your customers.

Going Global?

If you plan to go global, you have something else to think about. How does your business name translate to different languages? A whole lot of companies, many of them famous, have fallen into the bad translation trap. For example, KFC’s slogan “finger licking good” translates into “eat your fingers off” in Chinese. Another Chinese case in point was when “Coca-Cola” became “Bite the Wax Tadpole.” That’s not quite what the execs at Coke had in mind.

Almost There

If you plan to do business only in your home state, file a Doing Business As (DBA) document with your state’s commerce department. If your name is already taken, choose another from your list until you find one that’s available. If you plan to do business nationally or globally, conduct a trademark search before finalizing your business name.

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