So you’ve got a great idea for a business. But what are you going to call it? Here’s what we think is important when choosing a business name.
- Is it memorable?
- Is it easy to spell?
- Is the name available, either as a business name or a company?
- Is the domain name available?
- Can people guess what you do from the name?
1. Is it memorable?
You’ve gone to the effort to find potential new customers, and they need to be able to find you again. Whether they look in the phone book, a search engine, a business directory or ask people they know, if they can remember your name (or at least part of it), they are much more likely to find you again. This is something we hope we got right at Here’s Wally.
2. Is it easy to spell?
A lot of your initial customer contact will come through your website – and if a potential customer can’t spell your name in the URL bar, then that lead may very well go to another, unrelated website. You want to show that you’re easy to do business with, and the first step to simplicity is a simple to spell name. It’s a rule we’ve passed, as long as you forgive the ‘ which does not go in the domain name (and produces an error if someone does type it in). Think about how easy it is to spell Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook. Even if you’ve never seen the name before, chances are you’ll be able to spell it.
3. Is the name available?
In Australia, there are a few places you can check this. The business name register can be searched through ASIC – just make sure you check both the Organisations & Business Names register, and the Check Name Availability search. Alternatively, you can search using one of the ASIC registered agents (we used Incorporator, but there are plenty of others – see our post on Business Registration). You should also check to see whether any similar trademarks have been registered at IP Australia.
4. Is the domain name available?
It’s all well and good to be able to register your business name, but if someone already has the domain name for that (or very similar), then it is potentially useless. The first step is deciding what top level domain (“TLD”) such as .com, .com.au, .co, .net etc you wish to use. The registrars we have used in the past include Crazy Domains and NetRegistry in Australia, and GoDaddy in the US.
5. Can people guess what you do from the name?
We believe this rule is less important (kind of obvious from our choice of name!) but can be useful. Why? Because it helps with the memorability factor discussed in rule 1! More important than the ability to guess what you do, is that you are not confusing people into thinking you’re something you’re not.