How to Choose a Business Name, and Give it Meaning

The nation’s most notable brands, what are they?  Brands such as Google, Apple, Amazon and Ebay may come to mind. If you’re in the initial phases of starting a small business, rebooting your brand, or rolling out a new product or promotion, you most likely aspire to have a brand name that everyone knows as well.

I’ve discovered that some small businesses are somewhat apprehensive about choosing a name that stands out. Unfortunately, most of them gravitate to bland, in-your-face choices.  For example, a widget retailer would come up with a name like, #1 Premium Discount Widgets.

Before going any further, I would like to state that there is nothing wrong with aligning your company name with what you offer.  I just happen to feel that (in many instances) a unique name leads to better branding. The most effective business branding starts with separating factors – one key factor being your name.

Don’t get caught up in plastering your products and services in your name.  After all, the highly-visible brand names outlined above say nothing about their respective services and products.  Despite that fact, you know what these companies do.

NameHow valuable was the name Google on the first day the search engine went live?  I’m willing to wager that this unique name meant absolutely nothing to the vast majority of people online at the time.  However, as the company grew, this name began to grow in prestige and value (like a snowball effect).  Today, you would be relegated to a joke or a cheap knock-off if you came anywhere near mimicking this powerful name – further insulating Google’s unique brand.

Promotion/ProductHow often have you seen credit cards marketed as either gold or platinum?  These two labels, in my estimation, have lost their punch.  Along comes Chase Bank with what they call a Sapphire Card.  Is this product any different than the others?  That is for the consumer to decide.  However, the presentation is absolutely different.  And that may prove to be enough to win over new customers.   The point is: make a departure from cliché and over-used product and promotion descriptions.

Web AddressAlways remember that the vast majority of people will look a company up online before doing anything else.  Possessing a unique and easy-to-spell name will be incredibly helpful in this scenario. If your name is made up of the most common phrases, how likely are you to find a good URL?  If you go the obvious route for your name, your web address will most likely be made up of hard-to-remember things like: random digits, several words, .biz, .info, .us and so on.

Many small businesses are afraid of putting a name out there that says nothing about their offering and/or a name that nobody knows.  Make no mistake; it will be tough in the beginning.  However, if you work hard at giving your name meaning, it will be the very thing that gives you an edge in the end.

Walter Dailey is a proven creative strategist. He’s the lead consultant and executive producer for Dailey Sound Vector, a creative services organization that specializes in jingles, radio ads and marketing campaign development for small and mid-sized businesses.  Ask Walter your questions at