Stumped about what to call your cleaning business? We don’t blame you. There’s a lot riding on a name. According to Cindy Yang, Head of Small-Business Group for NerdWallet, a business name “has to encapsulate the practical usefulness of your products or services for your customers, signal your differentiation from competitors and embody the philosophy of your business.”
That’s a tall order. There are lots of details to think about when starting your own business. Choosing a name should be a fun one, but it often turns into a stress spiral. Let’s take the stress down a notch and go over some simple, but important, things to consider before settling on the perfect name for your cleaning business. Then, once you’re straight on what you value, we’ll walk you through some great exercises designed to get you to the finish line.
Here are four important things to consider before you close in on the perfect moniker.
1. Consider Your Vision
You’re starting out small and that’s smart. But look ahead five years: Will it be just you and a small crew or are you looking to build an empire? Do you want to stay within your community or branch out a little bit? Will you stick with sweet business cards and a snappy Facebook page for marketing or do you want to see your logo on the side of a fleet of company cars?
Considering your overall vision of the business you want to build will help you narrow down name choices. If you want to stay small, nimble and personable, it makes sense to use your name in the business a la “Colette’s Cleaning Service.” If you’re going for a bigger market presence—including commercial businesses—you’ll steer your thoughts towards more corporate-friendly names, like “Custom Cleaning Services.”
Also, if you think this business might be a launching pad for something bigger, you won’t want to lock yourself into something too specific. “Ann’s Cleaning Services” might be perfect for right now, but what happens when Ann wants to add organization or handyman services to her business? It’s worth thinking big picture when just starting out.
2. Consider Your Customers
What kind of customers are you coveting? If you live in a big city, you might specialize in condos, townhomes or other smaller spaces. Or maybe you’d rather shoot for the big bucks in tiny neighborhoods with sprawling estates. On the other hand, sticking with family homes in a suburb might be perfect for getting word-of-mouth business. Who your perfect customers are will affect how you brand—and name—yourself.
Next, consider the values of your ideal clients. Do they care about the environment? Consider names that reflect your commitment to the earth. Do they want quick, efficient service? Maybe you’ll include numbers in your name, like “Four-Hour Cleaning.” Are they looking for additional services like organizing and small chores? “Burt’s Cleaning Plus” works. If you’re specializing in family homes, you may want to give a nod to your special consideration to safety and children, i.e. “Tender Loving Cleaning” or “From Our Family to Yours Cleaning Services.”
3. Consider Your Style
As a small business owner, you’re the face and the personality behind your brand. Your business name should reflect who you are. If you’re young, energetic and cheerful, you may create a disconnect between your personal ethos and your business if you select a name like “Home Cleaning Services Inc.” On the flip side, if you’re a more reserved professional drawn to cleaning because of a perfectionist nature, you don’t want to advertise as “Candy’s Cleaning For You.”
4. Consider Your Website
Online, people want to be able to check out the details of products and services, find pricing and get a general feel for the brand.
So when it comes to picking a business name, you’ll also need to explore the availability of a domain name. (Web hosting companies will be happy to help you search and host your site, but a simple Google search works too.) Don’t panic if your favorite name has been taken, you can easily tweak your domain by adding a descriptive word or two. For example, “Sami’s Super Cleaning Service” could have a domain such as “SamiSuperClean.com.”
5. Hold a Brainstorming Session
Now it’s time for your inner wordsmith to shine. Invite your most supportive friends and family over for a creative brainstorming session. Get their juices flowing with great food and drinks and then gather around a huge white board with markers and sticky notes at hand. Brief your assistants on your vision for your business using the considerations above so they have some guidelines as they brainstorm. Depending on your group dynamics, you may think about:
- Working together as a big group or breaking into smaller ones
- Starting off with a few descriptive words and asking for word associations to help come up with more
- Having a thesaurus handy to make the most of all keywords
- Sharing photographs or other images you’re drawn to, which may help lubricate the creativity
- Having a prize for the best suggestion—because who doesn’t love prizes?
When the session is finished, narrow the list to five of your favorites. Show them to five people whose opinion you trust implicitly. Allow for some time to pass, and about a week later, ask which of the five names they remember. The one that sticks out the most may be your winner.
6. Remember: Consider How Search Engines Will Receive it
As you’re brainstorming, be as specific as possible to what your business offers. If you have a clear vision of the future of your business, allow its name to reflect that. For example, if you want to focus on commercial or construction cleaning exclusively, add that in the name so you’re defined enough for future clients and easily searchable online. The same applies to geography; if you want to build your business to focus only on one city or community, you might consider a name like “Fredericton’s Finest Home Cleaners.”
The more your name communicates your business to customers, the less you’ll need to explain it. Imagine your business card floating around in the world without a person attached to it. If someone picked it up, would they know what you do simply by the name of your business?
7. Next: Create a Logo That Complements Your Name
If you’re a more visual person, you might have an idea of what kind of image or logo you want for your cleaning service. Whether you create it yourself or hire a graphic designer to do it for you, test it amongst a group of friends and strangers to see how it’s received by people other than yourself.
Still Stuck? Get Help from Professionals
Still stuck? There are professionals who name products, services and businesses for a living. The downside is that it’ll cost you if you’re on a strapped budget. Contact local advertising, marketing agencies or services like SquadHelp or Branditory if you’re really in a bind.
About the Author: Heather Hudson is an accomplished freelance writer and journalist based in Toronto. She writes for a number of publishing, corporate and agency clients who depend on her to deliver high-quality, on-brand content and journalism with a fresh perspective. Learn more about her work at heatherhudson.ca.