You’ve Got a Spiffy Business Name, Now What?

November 20, 2015


Lego, Ralph Lauren, Subaru, MasterCard. Each business name conjures up a distinctly different image, doesn’t it?

It’s no accident.

Successful companies fork out thousands of dollars to pick a name that makes the right people get the right impression about their company, service, or product. Luckily, you don’t need bazillions of bucks to come up with a name that’s picture perfect.

You’ve got the FreshBooks Business Name Generator at your command to crank out dozens of names relevant to your business and industry—now all you have to do is know a great name when you see one.

Before we dive in, you may be thinking, “Yeah, but is picking a name really all that important?”

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Short answer: Yes (obviously.)

Long answer: Names are how we understand things. You might even say they’re how a company introduces itself to the world. Not in a “Hello my name is…” kind of way, but in more of a “This is why you should remember me…” kind of way.  

Names are one of the strongest ways we identify with the world. Picture your favorite food or cologne. Can you imagine it with any other name? If you can, how does the name change it ever so slightly in your mind? Would a Big Mac by any other name be as irresistible at 2 a.m.?

Take Your Position  

A great place to start when choosing a business name is what marketers call positioning. This means deciding where in your customer’s brain you want your company’s brand to sit. It’s as easy as specifying what your product or service is and the benefits it brings to your customers.

For example, both Pepsi and Coca-Cola are in the “beverage” category, but one associates with youth while the other positions itself as classic. Decide how you want people to perceive your company when selecting a name and you’ll be miles ahead of the competition.

Pick a Business Name with Personality

Similar to positioning, you should take a fair amount of time to consider what personality you want your brand to have. Is it serious or quirky? Authoritative or conversational?

There are pros and cons to every decision you make when creating a brand for your business, so relax and play with creative names that grab attention. Try to avoid safe choices. This can be a one way ticket to Vanilla Town. Richard Branson had to fight hard for the name Virgin, but that fight has more than paid off in communicating the brand’s youthful approach to their many ventures in a single word.



Get Emotional

It’s a relatively well known fact that humans initially make decisions emotionally and then justify those decisions logically. Set yourself up for success by choosing business names that appeal to the emotions of the exact customers you’re trying to get.

If you want to appeal to a younger crowd, pick a name that isn’t too corporate sounding. You can even experiment by making words up. Just be careful you’re not choosing something confusing or difficult to spell.

If you’re in the the financial industry, choose a name that carries some credibility with it. No one’s saying you can’t have a bit of both worlds, but you do have to understand your customers to the point of knowing what they’ll gravitate towards and what they’ll swiftly walk away from.

Decide how you want people to perceive your company when selecting a name and you’ll be miles ahead of the competition.

Clear Beats Clever—Every Time

One of the best things you can do for your business is give it a name that makes sense. A good, clear name will tell prospective customers who you are, what you do, and why you’re better than the competition. A great example of crystal-clear naming is Burger King. They make burgers and are so good at it that they’ve named themselves “King” (quite a promise for the hungry consumer).

Generally, shorter names are easier to remember and have an additional benefit of fitting on even the tiniest of business cards.

Remember that cute puns and clever wordplay are only appreciated by people with your exact sense of humor. Odds are, most people will miss the point and move on to the next service/product.

Finally, keep in mind that anything trendy right now will not be trendy in the future. (RIP autotunes, you will be missed.)

Take It Out for a Test Drive

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Once you’re fairly sure you’ve got a solid name on your hands, do a quick Google search of it. If you find 11 other companies have the same name, you’ll likely get lost in the crowd. Return to FreshBooks’ Business Name Generator to find a new name that still checks all the boxes of positioning, personality, emotion, and clarity (it’ll be much easier now that you have a solid grip on what you want).

Another reason to turn to Google as a final stamp of business-name-approval is to do a trademark search. There are tons of online resources to help you discover if your name is trademarked or even an available web domain.  

After Googling your fancy new name, try writing it at the top of a blank piece of paper to represent your letterhead and a small piece of paper to represent your business cards. Then evaluate objectively if your new name works in both large and small spaces by comparing it with other examples.

Ask a few friends (bonus points for strangers) who you think would be ideal customers, to look at the name and guess what the business does. Don’t ask if they like it, since that won’t tell you why someone is drawn to the name.

Try to ask specific questions, such as, “What does this name bring to mind?” or “What do you think this company might do if you heard it?” The goal is to hear the rationale behind their answer, not just a thumbs up or down.

Last but not least, think about where you want your company to grow in the future (pretend you receive $100 Million in funding) and evaluate your business name against this future brand.



Show Off Your New Business Name

Ok, so you’ve tested it out and you know you’ve got a crystal clear name that positions your brand, has a pinch of personality, and speaks to the emotions of your target audience. Now what?

No better way to know if you like a name than to see it on a new set of invoices. With FreshBooks, you can invoice your clients (complete with your own logo) in just a few clicks, and effortlessly track business expenses.

All you need to join FreshBooks is an email address and a business name—so it looks like you’ve got everything you’ll need to start building your business empire.

This is an optimized post and was originally published on the FreshBooks blog on November 20th, 2015.


about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.