What's in a Name? For a Business . . . Oh, Everything.

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Keep the name short, simple and easy to write and remember.

The companies you admire typically have names that are short, simple and easy to write and remember. (Think: Apple, Chanel, Virgin, Southwest).

Obscure business names are often difficult to write and even more so to remember. This is a problem for small businesses especially, as word-of-mouth advertising is their most successful form of marketing. If your customers can’t remember your name, can’t spell it or properly pronounce it for others, they won’t be able to help promote your business.

Don’t forget to consider the acronym of your company name (an acronym is the first letter of each word in a phrase, forming a kind of word of its own. Example: NASA).

You might not use an acronym, but your customers might refer to your business that way. Just be careful: A side business like “Apple Support Services” can result in an unfavorable acronym: ASS.

Avoid names that are too narrow or literal.

Think about how your business may evolve over time and make sure that the company name can evolve, too. For example, if you name your company “iPhone Accessories” and later expand to sell accessories for other products, your original name will be too narrow and restrictive.(Apple might also take a dim view of your using its product name in your name.)

The same advice applies even if your company sells a niche product. For example, if you sell antique lamps, consider whether in the future, you might sell more than lamps. Naming your business “Joan’s Antique Lamps” may be too limiting once you later start selling antique clocks and furniture.

Avoid decisions by committee, but “test” your name with others.

It’s tempting to involve friends, family, employees and customers in finding a name for your company. Sometimes, this can work out well. But there are risks.

People might be upset if you don’t pick a name they think is great. You’ll also find that trying to reach consensus can lead to a very plain name. If you must involve other people, pick a small group who understand you and your business (and include a mix of right- and left-brain types so that you can have some variety).

Once you’ve selected a few possible choices, share them with a few trusted friends, family and customers to get feedback about the name.

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Entrepreneur: Startup

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