Choosing the right name for your business is a daunting task for many new entrepreneurs because there is so much at stake. Does your name stand out to prospects and customers? Or does your business get lost in the crowd? Does your name communicate the right message? Or does it inadvertently keep prospects from calling you?
To simplify the process of generating a name for your new venture, begin with a brainstorming session, asking yourself the following questions. This exercise will help you get ideas on paper so you have something to work with.
- Who exactly are my target customers?
- What problems do I help solve for them?
- What words or phrases appeal to them?
- What are the three to five most attractive benefits my business brings to customers?
- Are there word pictures or metaphors that communicate what I do that would be relevant to my customers?
- What names do my competitors go by? What kind of name would differentiate me in the marketplace?
Your answers to these questions serve as “raw data” from which you begin to formulate a list of five to 10 possible names.
Evaluating Your Business Names
Once you’ve generated your list, how do you narrow it down to the names that possess the most potential? Ask yourself these questions:
Does the name appeal to my target customers?
Get feedback from customers or potential customers. What names appeal to them the most?
Does the name give me room to expand, or is it limiting?
For example, the name “Press Release Services” would be confusing to prospects if the owner were looking to expand services to include Web site copywriting, bylined articles or any form of writing beyond press releases. The assumption is that this company only does press releases.
Does the name distinguish me in the marketplace?
An example here is a high-tech firm of attorneys. Most attorney firms are named according to their partners’ last names, such as “Brock & Clay.” But when Evelyn Ashley launched her law firm, she came up with something very different. She named her firm “The Red Hot Law Group of Ashley.” This name has become a highly recognizable brand and has helped generate dozens of PR opportunities.
Is the name “too cute”?
You want to avoid using cute puns or phrases in your name, which may be confusing to customers if they don’t understand what you mean. This is especially important to avoid if you want to project a highly professional image.
Is the name simple to spell?
If it’s not, people will be much less inclined to send you referrals or log on to your Web site. Make things as easy as possible for your customers, prospects and referral sources.
Does the name elicit pride and enthusiasm within me?
Choose a name that makes you beam with excitement when you talk about your business. Prospects will notice your enthusiasm and want to do business with you.
Making Sure Your Chosen Business Name Is Available?
After you’ve shortened your list to one or two “winners,” how do you find out whether the name is available? In South Africa, CIPRO, (Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office), is responsible for the registration of companies, trade marks and patents. They also conduct searches to establish if a company name has already been registered. In order to search, follow these easy steps:
Register with CIPRO
You need to be registered in order to complete any transactions on the CIPRO website. Registration is free of charge.
Once you have registered, go to http://www.cipro.co.za/ccc/Search.asp which will take you directly to CIPRO’s search facility.
There are three search options:
- Search Option 1: Use this search option if you know the exact name of the enterprise you are looking for.
- Search Option 2: Use this search option if you know the number (new or old) of the enterprise you are looking for.
- Search Option 3: Use this search option if you are not sure of the exact name of the enterprise you are looking for. i.e. You may know that the name of the enterprise you are looking for contains the word Computers but you are not sure of the entire enterprise name.