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What's in a name? Choosing a name for your business.

By Mark Rouvray
Tuesday, July 30, 2019

What do we mean by business name?

Company name, brand/trading name, domain name - learn how to navigate this minefield with specific tips and guidance.

This may not be as straight forward as it seems. If you are a limited company, then you can have a different limited company name from your trading name i.e. the name by which people will know you when conducting business with you. Your website domain name could be based on your trading name or can be different as we will explore below.

You will certainly want to be checking the following when considering a name:

  • Companies House for related limited company names
  • Website Registrars e.g. Namseco, Go Daddy etc. – to check for domain availability
  • Google Search – Other organisations/businesses using the name or similar – especially if they show a trademark on the name

 

Different approaches for a business name

Any of the following or combination may be the basis for your business name.

Brand-Led

Your business brand is far more than a name or even a logo; it is the overall look and feel of your business experienced in the words, images and even tone that you use.

A brand-led name would need to be in keeping with the overall brand concept. The name might be related to the product/service OR be completely separate e.g. Giggling Squid (a Thai Restaurant chain) or MoonPig (card company). Unless there is going to be a lot of promotion behind the brand name, this could be difficult for a small business that has to rely on the name to convey meaning.

A brand names can utilise the benefit of a back story as part of their brand e.g. Hermes (Messenger of the Gods).

Alternatively, a brand name may emphasise the benefits of the service rather than the service itself e.g. Change Enablers vs. Life Coach

Name-Led

Many small businesses are often named after the owner/family name e.g. Wilkins and Wilkins Electricians or Mark's Plaice – using the name and also the service.

This is often the way to ensure uniqueness.

Keyword-Led

A name that focuses on the keywords associated with the business makes it simple to understand what a business provides and often where. It is also advantageous for Search Engine Optimisation which means you automatically use the keywords associated with your business.

Hence Wilkins and Wilkins Electricians initially used wimbledonelecrician.com for the domain name but later adopted 'The Wimbledon Electrician' as their brand business name. They still benefit from no.1 spot on Google for 'Wimbledon Electrician' searches.

Using modifiers in the name

One way of developing the business name is to use a modifier to the service or product. The modifier may be location e.g. The London Pest Controller or infer benefits or required attributes e.g. Live Your Dream Life Coaching, Elite Cars

Combined Approach

Combining these approaches can also provide other business name opportunities e.g.

Knockout Pest Control – combines a brand name with keywords which also conveys both the service and 'benefit'

M-Blaze – a company that creates branded designs for clothing, vehicles and signage (owner is Maria)

 

Choosing a domain name

As every business needs a website (of course) then a decision about the business name can't be separated from the domain name choice. Of course they don't have to be the same.

There is no doubt that there has historically been an advantage for SEO purposes of having a domain name that includes your most popular search terms.  Sometimes business names can't easily be accommodated in a domain name. For example, I persuaded one client called 'Surrey and South London Glassworks' to have the domain name wimbledongalzier.com which still achieves excellent local rankings for related keywords.

It is NOT essential for the domain name to be keyword oriented as there are other methods to achieve SEO – but it does help.

Your ideal domain name may not be available, so you can also look at alternative endings to the popular .com, .co.uk like the new .uk or many others now available. However, it is worth checking if a near competitor already has one of the alternatives to avoid being mixed up with your competition.

You can make use of hyphens or modifiers like The, Best etc. depending how this fits with your business name e.g.www.thesurreywebdesigner.com

The website can clearly show your business name if the web domain is different and detail the Limited company name on the site with a 'Trading as' modification. Consistency between domain name, limited company name and business trading name is not always possible or desirable.

 

Things to watch out for

  • Names that might have more than one meaning – especially internationally
  • Names that could be too restrictive in terms of your future growth i.e. location specific or service/product specific
  • Names that rely on something that could become dated over time – especially when technology related.
  • Long names that could give issues with domain names, email addresses and other marketing material issues.
  • Names that could lead to spelling and typo issues
  • Domain names that create double letters e.g. Jamessolicitors or hidden words with the domain name that may not be appropriate!

 

Activ work with many startup businesses and our input on this fundamental question has at times been invaluable. Our advice goes way beyond just your website so please
call for a free consultation.

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