Choosing A Business Name

When trying to decide upon a name, I'd like to give my thoughts about how names fit on signs and domain names. If you are putting a name on a sign, the more words you have in the main part of the name, the smaller the letters will have to be. I'm going to be a little bit overly rediculous, just do show a point. And, so that we don't get distracted by the name, for this example, I'm going use a completely different name.

First Example:
Here is an example of an all inclusive version of the "full name"



See how small the letters would have to be to get that all on the sign.

now, imagine that as a domain name
www.    What a mouthful for a website visitor. When you have very long names, especially as a website domain name, there is a strong possibility that the domain name could be misspelled, and your potential client could go off to another website.

Second Example:
Now, compare that to another variation, where the name is very short, with a descriptive phrase under it.


Notice how much easier it would be for potential clients to read the name from a distance. This would apply both to a store front name and to a magnetic sign on a car.

Als, notice that the large letters give a general since of what John does. (perhaps with a little thought, another more descriptive word could be used instead of "Carpentry" to more accurately describe that he does outdoor carpentry, etc.)

Third Example:

What if John were to choose a very generic descriptive name, a word (nicknacks) that is not normally associated with carpentry or construction?

At a quick glance from a distance, his name doesn't instantly describe what he does. Both for signs on buildings and for painted or magnetic signs or vehicles, you want your name to instantly convey at least some sense of what you do. For a sign on your vehicle, imagine the neighbors (who are potential customers) looking out their window, or across the yard, over at your vehicle. They would probably only be able to see the the top part of your sign, such as in the second and third examples above. They probably would not be able to read a sign, as in the first example above, that has lots of smaller words all the same size.

My suggestion is this. I would suggest that a business name have only 2 or 3 short well-known words because:
1. It easier to make the name larger on a sign so people can easily read the sign.
2. It makes it easier for people to type in your URL.

An except for this, as in my case, is if you arrange your name in such a way to highlight the main words. For example, for legal purposes, the full name of our business is "Stephen and Emmy Winters Sewing". Kind of long for a name on a sign. However, in our advertising, depending upon the layout of the ad, I lay out the words like this:


This way we have the full name, but still have the main two words of our name large enough to be easily seen.


Choose Your Name Logically

Just because you like a name doesn't mean that it would make a good name for your business, so choose a name that will help your clients relate to you better.

Your business name is often your first connection to your potential clients. A good business name should make your clients connect with you in a positive way. In a sense, you are really choosing a business name for your clients.

For instance, Let's take a woman who loved going to the beauty salon, and really felt pampered there. Eventually she decided to open a beauty salon of her own. Because of her emotions of feeling pamper at a beauty salon, she chose the name "Schnookum's Lovin's". That name might make her feel good, but it doesn't tell the client's what she does. Some people might be embarrased to even come inside.

Name Specifies Identity + Service

When choosing a name, as I specified above, it is good to have only two or three words in the name. One of those words should specify "identity", as in John's Carpentry above. The other word should describe your service that you perform, again using our example of John's Carpentry above. To make it easier for the client, the names and words should easy to spell and common terms. The "service" part of the name should be a word commonly recognized to be associated with the service that you are performing, as in the above example.

You Name Gives an Impression

Do you want potential clients to view you and your business as "Professional" and/or "Warm and Homey"? The name you choose affects the way you think about yourself and your business. For example, when a person uses their personal name in a business, the business seems more personal and relational to clients. Compare the mental picture you get when using "John's Carpentry" versus "Bismark Construction Services". "John's Carpentry" seems more friendly and homey, so people may come in with a more relational feeling before they even meet John.

Remember, we want our business name to send an appropriate message to the client. If you are small business and if you want to send a warm message to clients, using your own name as part of a business name can help establish positive feelings before you even meet the client. On the other hand, if you want to be viewed only as a "professional" by the client, then using a non-personal name, such as "Bismark Construction Services" would be appropriate.

Domain Names

Keep your domain names short, using familiar easily names and/or words that easily spelled.

Here's another thought. If you make your business name be your website address, then wherever people would see your name, they would have your business name. For example, if your actual business name was something like, or Jane and had your website at www. The advantage to this approach is that your one line listing in the phone book would also be your website address. I got this idea from our last photographer, Stanakers Photo Just a note, in this case, you need to make sure that your domain name is your legal name and then you may have to INSIST the phone list it that way. The yellow pages reps may have to to check with their supervisers before they finally put it in the phone directory that way. You can see they yellow page listing here: Stalnaker's Photo (note: Stalnaker's website no longer active.)


Other sites:

Here are some more website advice about choosing a business name.

  1. Choosing a Business Name FAQ - Nolo -

    "Answers to commonly asked questions about choosing and registering a successful business name."

  2. Pick a Winning Name for Your Business

    "Choose a business name that will identify your company's products and services."

  3. 5 Rules for Choosing a Business Name - About, Canada

    "What’s a winning business name? A business name that draws business in itself. ..... Get your family, friends and/or colleagues together for a business name brainstorming session and work through these five rules for choosing a business name:"

  4. How to Name a Business - Small

    "Whether it's a clever moniker, a personal tribute, or simply picked out of hat, your business' name will frame its identity. The significance of choosing a name can sometimes be a tricky undertaking. You may find it helpful to keep alternatives in mind during your selection process. If you're having some trouble selecting a business name, here are some tips to consider."

  5. Ideas about Choosing A Business Name Young Entrepreneur

    Here are a collection of articles about chosing a business name.

  6. Research Your Proposed Business Name

    "Choose your business name carefully.  It is an important part of marketing your goods and services. One of the steps is to check if the name has already been taken.
    If you use a business name that is too much like the name or trademark of another business, you can be sued. Here is a list of resources to help you search for a good business name and to avoid names already being used. "