As a person is known by his/her name, so is a business. A name many a times becomes image of a company or business. Name is a critical aspect of brand and its marketing strategy. Business name contribute heavily towards brand recall and retention by any customer which is crucial for any business.Various words, letter combinations, sounds and characteristics contribute to a good business name.
All good brands seem to share a list of common characteristics. There are about ten traits that contribute to a good business name: Alphabet, length, real word/expression, pronunciation, conflicts, spelling, industry, longevity, match, general retention and uniqueness. An extra category TLD i.e. Top Level Domain is also considered. A ranking system is developed based upon these traits. Each trait is assigned a certain value out of a total of 100. Basic breakdown of the traits is given below.
Steps in choosing a Business Name
How to Choose a Business Name: TLD(Top Level Domain)
.com, .net etc. are the Top Level Domains. It is better to use domain names that are important from worldwide branding perspective.
1) Small business is facing a big alternative when it comes to their Web existence. The web is accepting application for the possibility to generate and administer fresh top-level domains—the part of the Web address to the right of the dot, like “com” and “org.” People who supervise websites will have the chance to obtain addresses at those new top-level domains, also known as TLDs.
2) Businesses will be able to get TLDs that better replicate their brand—maybe “.food” for restaurant or “.real-estate” for broker—and let them do enhanced promotion. Critics, however, say the new addresses will cause perplexity for clients and headache for business. Promoting a new TLD will take valuable money and time, they quarrel, and there isn’t a large order for accessible niche TLDs to begin with. Not investing in a new TLD is like obsessed for the superior old days when your merely telecom alternative was a black Ma Bell telephone, or you could gaze at only the three transmit network. The new TLDs force offer miniature companies a gift of new choice and assure to deliver innovation that develop security and advertising online.
3) Specific TLDs will also give small firms the chance to tell customers what they’re about. Think of how much more information a business is giving customers, both online and in printed materials, when its address ends in “.travel agent” or “.restaurant” instead of just “.com.”. However if you are opening a new company or developing new products and you want to achieve the global Internet spectators, there is only one that matter. “.com” is the first item that comes to wits when anyone says the remark “website.”
4) It doesn’t matter what your business name is, someone shall hear it and instantly imagine to type in YourName.com. You cannot think to miss a sole “type-in” guests that may not get the time to investigate for you if they don’t directly land on website. If you ultimately end up with a .net or a .info, odds are that you will have to put in the complete website URL into your advertising communication and say the name over the handset so often that your company name and your domain name become one alike — possibly not what you planned when you first envisioned your brand. And think about this: these days, more and more companies are reducing the “http://” and “www” from their URLs in their advertising.
5) There is also an indirect position and sign in owning the .com if you own the .com it means you were there first. When you have a .net or something else, it conveys that you were late to the game. By owning the .com, you instantly establish yourself at an upper level.
6) Country cipher detailed TLDs such as .cn for China, .co.uk for the UK, and .de for Germany are becoming admired among inhabitants of those country that imagine first to look for a business that speak their language and does trade in their region.
How to Choose a Business Name: Pronunciation
Pronunciation is important from popularity perspective. It is important to know that whether any variations of pronunciations exist and will they work across speakers of different languages. Any customer must not hesitate while pronouncing the name of brand or company.
Imagine about how numerous times you have to give your particulars over the mobile phone! Now imagine about your possible company name. Is it simple to pronounce? Will public welcome what you’re saying? And is it simple to spell? Try to pick something that everybody will simply understand.
You’ve launched your website. Your first clients loved it, but growth has slowed. You’ve gravely disabled your word of mouth when you generate a brand that public cannot pronounce properly. Its one thing if your brand is Cartier, those brands almost certainly doesn’t even want you if you can’t pronounce their names. But you want everybody (and their mother) to come use your website, so you need to make it as easy as feasible for them to tell other people about it.
When choosing a business name, ask yourself:
How many variation of the elocution are there?
Take a good look at the makeup of your name. Are the letter and vowel combination similar to dictionary words that everyone is familiar with? If your name contain letters that can have numerous pronunciation like a soft “G” or hard “C”, is it pretty straightforward which pronunciation public should use?
Do public experience a second of uncertainty before trying to say the name?
Even a split second of holdup between look at a word and say it out loud can point to trouble. The elocution of your name should come logically to everybody who sees it.
1. message your possible domain name to 5 contacts.
2. Request them to send you a voicemail pronouncing the name.
3. If they all say the identical thing with no hesitation, you’re golden.
Finally, does it work well across speakers of diverse languages?
For example, in English a “y” typically rhymes with “spy” or “eye” , but in Spanish a “y” rhyme with “see”. Also certain qualities of the English language akin to the silent “e” at the ending of a word don’t survive elsewhere. Take Skype for instance—in America most users pronounce the name devoid of the last letter, similar to “hype”. However, in some parts of Europe and the Middle East, the brand name is pronounced like “Skype”.
The easier it is for the brand name to be pronounced, the healthier it can be spread through word-of-mouth. Likewise, the less the number of words for the brand, more easy it is to be remembered. Occasionally words are not spelt out the way it sound and people may have difficulty searching for the company on the net. For example, though “Xerox” has become an efficient brand name that became identical with “photocopy“, it probably had some articulation issues when it first existed.
People might have mistaken the pronunciation with the wrong spelling of “Xerox”. The company may have lost a important piece of their potential consumers just because these public couldn’t get the spelling right. So when it comes to ensuring that your brand can be remembered precisely, ease could be the best policy.
How to Choose a Business Name: Conflicts
The name should not be an existing name. Any other similar business should not have taken it. Fewer common users of the name, the better are its score.
1) To name a business firm can be stressful for entrepreneurs with almost every word in the dictionary being trademarked. A highly crowded domain name space further adds to their troubles. The process of naming a business firm doesn’t end with selecting one name from several names. It is consummated only after it is tested for trademark infringement. Apart from being short, simple, intriguing and memorable, a business name should also be unique. An already established firm with flying sales wouldn’t want to receive a lawyer’s letter which states that its name violates a federal trademark. Changing a name for firm that shot its bolts to develop its brand would be very frustrating.
2) It is imperative for a business form to use different search tactics to hunt for both registered and unregistered trademarks. The damage that trademark infringement may cause to a firm is much higher than expected. It is in the best interest of the firm to stay clear of any potentially conflicting names, especially those used by direct competitors.
3) The selected names must be screened by typing them on the most commonly used search engines and looking for similar names being used to market similar product or service. If a lot of business firms are using similar names, then not only will your presence in the market be weak but protection against the possibility of infringement accusation would also be minimal. It is advisable to not use a name that is confusingly similar or identical to a comparable product or service. Thomas register website is a free tool that can be used to find unregistered trademarks. Alternatively, network solutions can be used to look up for business names and domain names. The firm can also look up for federally registered trademarks by using free trademark database on USPTO’s website. The US website Trademark electronic search system also maintains database of country-wise trademarks. The safest approach would be to hire a professional trademark search firm to conduct a thorough search of federal and common law trademarks that are similar to the ones that an entrepreneur wants to use.
Although safe, the costs may be too exorbitant for a start-up budget.
4) The domain name for the website must be selected meticulously. Ideally, a firm would want a domain name that surrounds the chosen business name. The chosen domain name should not match with any other firm’s business name or the chosen business name should not be identical to a similar firm’s domain name. Higher popularity of other name would mean better prospects of firm facing the infringement allegations in the future.
5) A start-up firm (that foresees a likelihood of trademark conflicts) can play safe by hiring an attorney who can provide professional assistance on this issue. In US, the results of trademark search and reliance on the opinion issued by attorney may prevent a trademark user from demanding treble damages. This is the best way to ensure that the firm is protected.
How to Choose a Business Name: Uniqueness
The business name reflects the personality of an organization and the benefits and the services it provides. From the point of view of a marketer, a business name is a cardinal brand equity element that could either make or break a business. The uniqueness of a brand name should be imbibed in the customer’s psyche for successful promotion. A good brand name speaks volumes about organization’s creativity, vision and aspirations.
For a brand name to be unique, it should be more than just a combination one or more generic keywords because such names face the risk of being forgotten by the customers too early or being confused with similar other names in the market. The name should be intriguing, memorable and should able to emphasize certain important aspects of the business like what it aims to provide to the potential customers. Coined names can be more effective than existing words according to Namelab president, Michael Barr. For instance, “Acura” is not an existing word in the dictionaries but it indicates precision engineering derived from the word “Acu” which means precision in most languages. In this way, a company can manage to come up with a name that is both meaningful and unique. He however confesses that made-up words are complex and may not be the right solution for every situation. They may not convey the intended meaning to the targeted customers. He therefore advises to use the spellings of existing words. For example, they thought of the word compact and came up with ‘compaq’ which they thought would be less generic and meaningful.
Making the brand name too straightforward may kill the creativity and peculiarity in the name. The brand name should also not be too descriptive but should be short, simple and easy to remember. The easier it is to pronounce the name, the better it can be spread through the word of mouth. An ideal name should fit well on a business card, look good in advertisements and display boards, and show up easily on search if the company also has an online business.
Certain brands are also unique in the way they sound. It is advisable to have minimum syllables in the name. The brand names that you choose should sound like nothing else. Researchers suggest that simply hearing the sounds of brands like Coca-Cola, Kit-Kat and Jelly-belly can generate temptations among customers and seriously influence their buying patterns. These brands have repetitive sounding name that are more likely to pull customers as per a research.
A winning business name should also be associable with a visual element. Humans are programmed to see images when they hear or read language and therefore associating a visual element (through a logo) to a brand name is an effective aid to customer’s memory. Entrepreneurs may also envision their customers effectively using their simple, pronounceable brand name in a sentence especially as a verb. A classic example of this is Google which means looking up for information on the internet.
How to Choose a Business Name:Longevity
Whether the spelling or name is according to current trend or will it stay in the future, needs to be determined.
When we begin a fresh business, or build a new product, we have a vision about it increasing in size, going up into new markets and long-lasting for generation. When we choose names for this company, however, repeatedly times we put spotlight too much on the present and not the opportunity in future. A company name can say a lot: the period when the business was born, the location the founder were from, and the kind of company that it started out as.
Here are three sides to think about when choosing a name for long life:
1. Names with a slim Focus
Sometimes even a name that can set a standard for an whole industry can find itself restricted to the business category it helped create.
Groupon, a combination of “Group Coupon” became the preferential term used by customers for any type of “daily deal” or price cut for a local business.
2. Fashionable Names
New big business names can often chase a currently admired naming trend. Flickr, a photo sharing technology was unable to obtain the domain name flicker.com, but like the word so much that they drop one of the 2 vowels.
Google, a misspelled word of Googol, opened the gate for other English vocabulary words with alternating spellings.
By aligning once business with a renowned brand, even by name or sound, you are instantaneously giving your viewers clue to who you are, what principles are significant to you, and what your business traditions may be like.
3. Name Hacks
From time to time a big business comes alongside with a exclusive solution to a ordinary trouble. Del.icio.us is first victorious examples of a “domain hack”, or using 2 letter country codes, and occasionally sub domains as part of a full word. The domain name afterward altered to delicio.us, and then lastly to delicious.com.
Other hacks comprise instagr.am and pix.ie. While being intelligent to begin your business with an cheap name is a plus for entrepreneurs on a financial plan, your startup’s achievement can in fact make it more costly to obtain the full .com version of your name in the extended run of business, particularly from an cultured domain owner who knows that you are rambling traffic by not having it.
How will you recognize if your company name can bear the trial of time?
First, make a decision on what path your business is on. For many, a rapid rise and a rapid depart is part of the arrangement, so a fashionable name may be helpful, or in any case not destructive. But if your thought is superior, and your plan is long-standing expansion, ask these two questions: If you envisage likely expansion further than your current area of expertise, does your name permit you to develop there? Is your name having conduct that were around and advantageous 10, 20 or 50 years ago? If you answer ‘yes’, then your brand is ready for prolonged existence.
How to choose a Business Name: Length
Length of a domain name i.e. 4 letters, 5 letters is exponentially important. The shorter the name, the easier it is to type and retain by the customers. Shorter names invite less spelling variations as well. This is the reason that 3 letter domain names have been charged at premium price.
A business name is a vital part of any business or brand. It is the one that connects and stays with people. Good business names always contribute to high brand recall. So it is very important for any business to select its name after lot of contemplation. Some of the factors affecting business names are spelling, sound and size.
Speed is very important in any business. That is the reason Hewlett and Packard officially adopted the abbreviated form HP in 1981. “Diet Coke” was adopted as the Coca-Cola Company realized that “Diet Coca-Cola” was too much of a mouthful. In 1994, Federal Express was reborn as FedEx. FedEx was the name widely preferred by customers. These instances show that how much the length and speed of business names matters. Whether building computers, sending packages or quenching thirst, speed is always on one’s mind and the brand one uses, needs to keep up.
Length of a name pertains to our ability of retaining. Short names are easier to remember than long ones. In most of the languages, sentences are structured by gluing nouns and verbs with less important prepositions and conjunctions. Our brain is functioned to pick up only important words and skip the rest to relax a bit in between. This phenomenon has led companies adopt one or two word names. Three word brands do exist but in minuscule numbers.
For any brand its retention and recall are crucial aspects. But to penetrating customers mind is a challenging task as customers are bombarded with massive information on daily basis. This makes spelling and pronunciation key factors of success.
While moving, reading is a big task in itself. During this time long brand names overburden one’s eye which is bad for any business. Many three word brands resolved this issue by embracing acronyms as their business names. Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC, International Business Machines became IBM and Electronic Data Systems are now known as EDS. Each word is processed separately for companies having two word names which make the length of the longest word as the differentiating factor. Visual symmetry is important when two words are joined together.
Length of any brand name is seen as well as perceived. Numbers of “syllables” or speaking pattern decide the time required for speaking any name. Consumers remember two syllables for one word most easily. Google, Pepsi, Kodak are two-syllable one word brands. Chevrolet often restores to Chevy. Perceived spoken length and actual spelled length should be a good match. “IKEA” and “BrightSquirrel“are some of the brands that are short with many syllables and make brand recalling tad difficult.
Writing a brand name may not affect a customer memory. Generally internet users prefer to type less which has led to charging of high premium on shorter names. 3-letter .com and pronounceable 4-letter.com domain names are rare and expensive. 5-letter.com domain names with good structure are now gaining popularity. Google is an example of a 6-letter domain name that has written history. Length of a domain name can be put in check if more focus is on how it reads and sounds.
How to Choose a Business Name: Alphabet
Alphabets decide the sound of the company. Also, sorting based on alphabet is of much importance. Generally, companies on top of the sorted list enjoy more customers.
A business name plays a key role in developing the image of a business. An appropriate business name literally spells success for it. While selecting a business name, it is important to remember that the first letter of the company’s name is crucial. It is the first sound heard by customers and first thing they read. The first letter can also turn out to be famous abbreviation in future (consider Mr. Proctor and Mr. Gamble). Many a times, first letter doesn’t appear to be considered as critical as the spelling, pronunciation and the uniqueness of business name, though somewhat it is.
The catch is pronunciation. If the first letter of a company’s name is pronounced different across different regions, it becomes difficult for the customer to say or read it. This leads to an issue if the brand wants to convey confidence and strength. The hesitation in pronouncing undoes the entire effect. An alphabet can be weighed and scored to consider its impact in a business name.
Letters Q and X are the oddballs. They are the least used alphabets across all languages making the least weighed alphabets in terms of impact. So, when these letters pop up in any brand name, it makes people pause. In cases such that of “Xerox”, the letter “x” has different sound for the first and last alphabet.
Alphabets C and G are very uncertain in terms of their pronunciation. As their context changes, they can be “soft” or “hard”. Certain general rules such as – letter C has a hard sound when paired with ‘a’, ‘o’ and ‘u’ (cap, coal, cut), and soft after ‘i’ and ‘e’ (circle, cereal). But there are problems with exceptions such as “Celtic”. For the letter G too, rules are not useful like in the case of “giraffe”, “give” and “goat”. This can be intimidating for people who do not have a fair understanding of English.
H and W are two quiet alphabets. They are easy to pronounce, but their silent and breathy sounds make them hard to hear. Their impossibility to lip-read makes introductions at a noisy Silicon Valley or at a bustling Underground station difficult.
Vowels E, I, O and U have an open and inviting sound to them. Though they score low in terms of pronunciations, they are preferred by most brands due to their sounds. Letters C, G, H, W, E, I, O and U share the same score bandwagon of impact factor.
The other guys B, D, F, J, K, L, M, N, P, R, S, T, V, Y, and Z do not offer any variation in pronunciation. Business names starting with these consonants have a lot going for them.
And the last but not the least is the first alphabet A. In the times of phonebook, it assured more customers, being in the top list. But with improved internet search systems letter A doesn’t have to be adopted for need of more customers. Still it has a special place in one’s heart because of its pleasant and inviting sound. This makes A, the top scorer for the first alphabet of a brand or company.
Finally, How to choose a Business name
The most difficult of all features from scoring perspective. Retention relates to the construction of consonant/vowel compared to repeated letters, spoken language, memorable letters, etc. A business name should connect well with its customers to retain them.
If one thinks that the name of the business entity doesn’t have much effect on the business then perhaps s/he could never be more mistaken. In fact, the name of your business itself speaks about the business and creates a position in the minds of the customer, for example Facebook (one can get a clear head start about what the website might be for).
Considering how important a business name is, the next big question is how to define ones business name? Following Ideas try to analyze how the Business names are chosen by some big multinationals;
- 1. The Retention Quotient (RQ)
Retention Quotient is defined as the ability that a name, symbol or any other visual element has to stay in the customer’s mind. The business names should have an impact so strong, that the customers find it difficult to forget them. A high RQ can be attained by high Attention Quotient (AQ), which simply means the ability of a name, symbol or any other visual element to capture the customer’s attention. To Increase the RQ of your business name you may:
- Choose a name that people find easy to memorize, for example, General Electric, United Health group, United Technologies etc
- Choose a name that resembles your business, for example, Toys R Us-( one can easily guess it to be a toy store), Tata Steel-(Steel manufacturing) etc
- Choosing unconventional names, for example Apple computers, Caterpillar, Wal-Mart Stores etc.
- Choosing a localized name, one benefit of the same is that customers tend to associate more closely to the local names, examples include, Bank of America, Indian Oil etc.
- The Perception Effect:
Sometimes consumers have strong perceptions about the founder of the company and in such cases it is advisable to name your business by that name for example, Ford Motors (Derived from its founder Henry Ford), Mc Donald’s (derived from its founder Ronald McDonalds etc).
Descriptive names and non-descriptive names:
Sometimes, when ones business name is too long, it is advisable to use short forms (acronyms, abbreviations etc) instead of full descriptive name for example CBRE for CB Richard Ellis Group, WESCO for Westinghouse Electric corporations etc.
Two or more business entities may unite (Mergers or Acquisition etc) and thus they usually take names that describe both the companies, usually one may not want to lose on the position that the original company may have for example JP Morgan Chase.
Now the big question is which league to follow? Among the four naming styles described above which one suits your business the best? One must carefully follow and do a thorough market analysis before coming to a final business name, it is advisable to prepare at least ten different names, and then eliminate one after the other to reach to the final name. The easiest name may not sometimes be the best name or an extremely unconventional name might sometimes have a high AQ but may not have a very high RQ.
Many big companies sometimes end up changing their business names, which leads to considerable outflow of monetary resources for the rebranding exercise. Thus one must take extra precautions and spend considerable amount of time to decide the business name.