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What's in a name?: tips on choosing a biz name


Starting a new business is an exciting time, but it can also be overwhelming. One of the most important decisions you will make as a new business owner is selecting a business name. Your business name is the foundation of your brand identity, and it is crucial to choose a name that will resonate with your target audience and help you stand out from competitors.


I learned over the years of having various businesses that your business name does reflect a lot about your company, your brand and even the type of offerings or products people would expect from you. I spend a great deal of time thinking about the names of my businesses because (1) It's gonna be with you a long time (2) It's so easy to establish a poor business name. Using some my real life examples, I'd like to provide some tips and guidelines to help you select a great business name.


1. Keep it simple and easy to remember


When choosing a business name, it is important to keep it simple and easy to remember. Choose a name that is easy to pronounce, spell, and remember. For my T-shirt store on Etsy, Shirt Kinks, I wanted to choose a fun name that gave customers a clue that they were going to expect fun, poignant, and bizarre designs. I avoided using complicated words or phrases that may confuse my potential customers. You want your business name to be easy to say and easy to remember so that potential customers can easily recall it when they need your services.





2. Make it unique


Your business name should be unique and not too similar to other businesses in your industry. This will help your brand stand out and avoid confusion with competitors. Conduct a search online to see if there are any other businesses with similar names, and avoid using names that are trademarked or registered by another company. You want your business name to be distinct and memorable so that potential customers can easily identify and remember your brand. My best examples of this are Shirt Kinks and my life coaching practice, Life Coach Clo. The latter just rolled out of my head as if it was meant for me, but also it checked some major boxes in uniqueness, memorability, and searchability.


My family nickname is Clo. My dad both named me and gave me my nickname. However, once my nickname was released accidentally into the wild, it became a unique and personal brand for me. People who knew and loved me called me "Clo," and remembered me as such, so I embraced it as a way to identify an intimate connection between me and the person who calls me that. And since life coaching is what I do, it's perfect to identify my niche and connect something a bit more personal than my given name. And...the writer in me can't ignore the alliteration as a long-standing mnemonic device! Hence, Life Coach Clo was born. So, don't be afraid to put a little of yourself in consideration for a unique business name. It doesn't always have to be your given name—there are many aspects that make you and therefore your business unique.





3. Consider your niche


Your business name should reflect your niche and what you offer. Choose a name that is relevant to your industry, and that will resonate with your target audience, just like I did for Shirt Kinks and Life Coach Clo. For example, if you are starting a marketing consulting business, consider using a name that includes the word "marketing" or "consulting" in it. This will help potential customers understand what you do and what sets you apart from others. It also helps with your SEO!


4. Research the availability of the name


Before you select a name, ensure that it is available for use and not trademarked or registered by another company. Nothing is more disheartening to get all excited about a business name idea and go full-tilt printing out business cards only to discover a business already has that name (or something terribly too close to it). I had a client that had already designed their website and marketing material with their ideal biz name, and was devastated when they later found out it was a business that existed with that same name. A simple check could have saved them hundreds of dollars and stress changing EVERYTHING. Don't let that be you! You can check the availability of a name by conducting a search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. This will help you avoid legal issues down the line and ensure that you have the right to use your chosen name.


5. Consider the domain name


In today's digital age, having a matching domain name is crucial for establishing an online presence. It's ideal that your domain name matches your business name, or at least be close to it. I know that can't always happen, but that's a good goal. A domain name that matches your business name can help greatly with search engine optimization (SEO), so your venture is found more to your audience. You can check the availability of a domain name by conducting a search on a domain registrar website, such as GoDaddy or Namecheap.


6. Think about longevity


Choose a name that will grow with your business and not become outdated as your business evolves. A good example to share for this is my author pen name (which can be considered a business name in itself. But it's definitely a brand.) Kharma Kelley was born seven years ago at the publication of this blog. I chose a pen name (pseudonym) because my whole name is a mouthful. It's unique as hell, but it wasn't memorable because folks mispronounced my full name throughout my whole life. FOOSLA-Leer, FUSE-Liar, Clarisse...ugh, it was too much! You want your business name to be relevant and memorable for years to come. So, I chose a pen name that didn't pigeonhole me into any particular genre, was easy to remember and at least appeared as a real name someone would have. That's why I spelled "Kharma" a bit differently and even added an 'e' to the surname, Kelley. It's a timeless name that lets me be who I am throughout my author journey. So, avoid using trendy names or names that are too specific to your current offerings, as this can limit your ability to expand in the future.



Official logo of author Kharma Kelley


7. Test it out


Before finalizing your business name, share it with others and get feedback from potential customers, friends, and family. This can help you gauge whether the name resonates with your target audience and whether it is memorable and easy to remember. You can also conduct a survey or poll to get feedback from a larger group of people. I did this for my Anti-Racism & Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) services, Inclusion.Logic LLC and it was a lesson learned.


I was still programmed that .com is the best and all the other domain extensions were inferior. However, though .com is the standard, a number of apps and tech companies have been playing around with the various domain extensions such as .io, .co, .app. So when I developed Inclusion.logic, I originally wanted that to simply be the domain name. Nowadays, you can choose any domain extension (within reason) you like. But I was scared it would be too forgetful. So, for my domain name I instead did "inclusiondotlogic.com" I later got feedback from my clients that because of the period in my business name, they assumed that signified the domain name, too! (Facepalm). Spelling out the "dot" was a bit forgettable considering the style of my business name. Well, it was too late to change now (someone bought inclusion.logic already :( ), but it was a good lesson to shop my domain name around with some trusted folks to see what works best for the customers I'm trying to attract. So, spend a bit more time noodling on how your domain name and business name style translates to your customers before committing.





Selecting a business name is an important decision that requires careful consideration, so take your time and brainstorm constructively. It's ideal for your business name to be simple, unique, relevant to your niche, available for use, has a matching domain name, be relevant for years to come, and resonate with your target audience. It's definitely a "measure twice to cut once" kinda task. Good luck!



 

Are you looking to start a new business and become a small business entrepreneur? At Life Coach Clo, I help folks launch their venture from the seedling stages of defining their business name and brand identity to standing up operations and marketing strategies. Building a business isn't easy, but it's easier with a knowledgeable cheerleader such as an entrepreneur coach to support you along the way!


Ready to see your business in reality? Let's talk!


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