What?s in a business name?

By Julia Keady

People can spend weeks and months mulling over exactly the right name for their new business, but it doesn't need to be that difficult. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a name.

1. What's your market?

Your name should represent the values and aspirations of your market. If you are aiming at the 50+ market, you want something reliable and trustworthy, something that speaks to the past and says what the business is, like Prudential Insurance, Origin Energy or Medibank Private.

If you're going for the 15-30 market, you want something that speaks to the possibilities of the future - something dynamic, colourful, exciting or even naughty like Virgin, Naked or Wicked. Invented names like Google and Mashable worked because they represented something completely new and defined it.

If you're aiming at the 30-50 market, go for something that evokes their aspirations and the experiences they want to have in life. This group is trying to balance success and responsibility with freedom and lifestyle, so you will want to appeal to both. Names like Baby Jogger (prams), Summit Travel and Barefoot Investor achieve this.

2. What's your story?

Every business or product has a story to tell and particular emotional qualities to sell. If you are selling exotic travel or adventure goods, use an exotic foreign name like Patagonia did. If you're selling nappies then you want to go for good feelings like Huggies and Baby Love. A name that evokes a feeling that is appropriate to the product will be remembered.

3. Generally speaking

  • Shorter is better: If you are going for a single-word name then two syllables is ideal unless it's a proper noun that already has meaning. Two words are better than three.
  • Be specific: Over-generalised names likes Lucky, Quality or Value don't set you apart from the crowd.
  • Be transportable: If you call your business the Wagga Wagga Auto Shop, you are in trouble if you want to expand it to Dubbo.
  • Be original: A name that surprises, excites and makes someone pay attention will always outperform one that simply describes.

A business name is definitely important, but ultimately your business will be known for what it does. So choose a name that works for you then focus on running a great business.


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