What does your business name say about you?



Have you ever wondered how entrepreneurs arrive at the names they choose for their businesses?  

If you’re honest, there are business names that you read and feel like laughing out loud, while others leave you shaking your head wondering why. Perhaps due to how ridiculous they sound; the name does not reflect the products or services offered. Then some immediately inspire confidence.  

Consider this: Would you like “Potato, onions with coriander” on the menu tonight for dinner? Well, not so much? Okay, what about “sauteed potatoes?” That’s much better.   

Choosing a great name for your business is more complicated than most founders and brand managers believe. The best brand names wander into our subconscious unnoticed. They assimilate smoothly into different parts of our lives and take on real meaning, whether you’re talking about jumping into an Uber, going on a Tinder date, or Whatsapping a friend. Or, from a Kenyan perspective, “have you bought kiwi?” Referring to shoe polish. Is this limiting it to Kenya only? 

Still, there is more to a great name than just being memorable. A great name must offer the proper foundation for a company to build on – and it also must be available.  

Here are some steps that might help in naming your business:  

Start by knowing your audience  

Start with a clear idea of exactly what message you want to send and whom you want your brand to resonate with. This will help you to first  

choose a style (preeminent, playful, pragmatic, modern, intriguing, powerful) that will be the north star on the road to selecting a brand name.  

Beware of initials 

They are so dull. We have big companies such as IBM and 3M who have gotten away with initials, but these are multibillion-dollar corporations that have been around for decades. You can do the same for your brand name when you reach their level. Until then, rely on an interesting name.  

Use related words creatively 

Don’t be tempted to stuff keywords into your business name. Using simple keywords like General Motors doesn’t work anymore. But often, choosing a somewhat modified version of related keywords works very well, provided it expresses what your business is about.  

An excellent way to create catchy, memorable business names is to use alternate versions of common words related to the service you’re offering. For example, the name Attensa is perfect for the content aggregation tool. The name is a play on the word attention – which is somewhat relatable to the service itself. Other examples include Digg (dig), Flickr (flicker) and Compaq (compact).  

Choose a scalable name  

Pick a name that can expand your business. For example, if you sell just books, you might one day sell stationery products or accessories too. Also, if your service is based in a particular area, you might expand to other cities. So, select a broad name that can encompass your future growth.  

A business name is only your first step towards building a brand. Though it’ll give your business an excellent first impression, it’s up to you to meet the customer expectations and bring your business to success.