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How to choose an effective and creative business name

  • Last Updated : June 12, 2023
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  • 5 minutes Min Read
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Deciding to start a business is easy. But after making this exciting decision, you have to apply for an ABN, register your business, and complete seemingly endless amounts of paperwork—all before you can even start trading. We understand that this can feel a bit overwhelming. In this blog, we hope to break these hurdles down into smaller steps so you have an easier time following through on your dream. Today, we'll talk about choosing a business name.

How to come up with a business name

Unless you're a freelancer or a sole trader, don't name your business after yourself. Your business name is a reflection of who you are and what you offer. In other words, a good business name takes guesswork out of the equation and gives your audience a clear picture of what to expect from you. Using your own name may not necessarily communicate what you're offering to your audience. Before you set your mind on a business name, answer these three main questions:

  • What unique value do you offer your customers?

  • What are your policies and business stances?

  • Who is your ideal audience?

When you think about these questions, you'll come up with a range of phrases and words that describe your business. Use that as a starting point. Then, consider the following pointers to help you narrow down your ideal business name.

1. Check what's available

It's no use if the name you want is already taken. When you do find a name that you think is perfect for your business, run it through the Australian Securities & Investment Commission's name availability check to make sure that no one else is already registered under that name.

Once you know your name is available, look it up on .auDA (.au Domain Administration) to see if the corresponding domain name is also available for you to register. In case it's already taken, consider modifying your business name slightly. For instance, if the exact name is unavailable as a domain name, consider adding a suffix that closely matches your business. For example, if CrossCountry.com is already taken, you could try CrossCountryTours.com.

2. Make it memorable and catchy

Think of your favourite brands and why they stand out to you so much. Successful names are often short, snappy, and inspirational so that the audience wants to be associated with them. When you choose your business name, consider how you want your audience to remember you. Some businesses have a considerable budget for branding and marketing campaigns. This helps expose a business name to a larger crowd base. So even if you choose a vague name that most of the world doesn't understand right away, such as Nike, you can still make it stick. Today, we see hundreds of articles online that decode the meaning and the story behind Nike's name.

However, if you have a minimal budget, consider a name that's more relatable to your business. For example, MasterCard is a straightforward name. So is Facebook. That doesn't mean they couldn't splurge on branding campaigns, but they aren't as vague as Nike or Adobe either.

Another thing to remember is that your name should be pronounceable. For instance, a quaint name that plays around with vowel and consonants like 'Liltz' or 'Xetler' sounds great and modern. However, they're not obvious when writing or reading out loud. Make sure people who are unfamiliar with your business can also understand your name.

3. Keep it relevant

Unless you have supporting words or phrases in your name to clarify what your business is about, don't choose vague names. For example, Tesla is a broad name. It could refer to many things including the scientist, science enthusiasts, or the car company. Even a tailor can name their business Tesla. However, what makes Tesla recognisable as a car company is the word Motors that goes with it.

Now, though, Tesla has become a common, household name that it no longer needs 'Motors' for us to recognise it. Apple Computer is another name that's evolved over time to stand alone as Apple.

If you choose a relevant one-word name that clearly illustrates what your business does, you don't necessarily need a suffix.

4. Be professional and sensible

There's a lot you can discern about a business based on its name and domain. For instance, would you rather buy from ActiveLifestyle.com or BuyEffectiveRunningGear.com? That's why it's important for your business name to be classy while also reflecting what you do.

Think beyond just your name. In the future, when your business expands, will the name scale? This could mean making your name broad enough to accommodate possible extensions of your trade. For instance, if you sell exotic tea leaves, consider whether you might branch out to selling coffee beans or tea bags. Choose a name that will encapsulate those potential business avenues.

Examples of great business names and domains

Postach.io and List.ly

Both of these brands have used high-level domain names that tie in to their business name. That's a smart way to make sure your brand stays memorable to consumers.

PayPal

This name clearly indicates what the business is about. Even if you don't know what PayPal is or what it does, you can immediately assume it has to do with payments and finance. No one would think PayPal is a vehicle manufacturer or a clothing brand. Avoiding the wrong impression is just as important as making the right one.

Xero

A clever wordplay on the word 'zero', Xero is a popular accounting software company. Now, not everyone will associate Xero with accounting. But as we saw with Nike, the connection doesn't have to be so direct. The intention here is to play on the word zero, which is short, recognisable in many languages, and has a loose mathematical association that helps the name fit with the company's product.

Business name generators

In your search for the best name for your business, have a look at these popular name generators. They all use a mix of algorithms to suggest relevant names.

Once you've chosen the perfect name, you're ready to move on to the next big step of starting your own business: registering your name.

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