Create A Good First Impression
Customers get their first impression of your business from your business name. If you choose a bad name for your business, your customers may take their business elsewhere. You will have a hard time convincing them that your business is worth their money.
Once you choose your business name, it will be extremely difficult to transition to a different name. The public becomes comfortable seeing and using an established business name, a new name does not have the equity of the more established old name. Getting your business name right the first time, will save you money and customers.
Your business name will be a brand name. This brand name will be on your Website, business cards, letterhead, signage, advertisements, etc. View this step of starting a new business as a major investment in its future.
Points To Help You Decide On A Name For Your Business
Clarify what you do
Is your business a construction firm, or do you specialize in framing, moving, cleaning, building, etc.? Do you sell everything imaginable for the home, or do you just sell sofas?
Your business name should let the customer know what you do. Although Aardvark Services, Inc. may be listed first in your section of the Yellow Pages, a business card given to a new acquaintance doesn't tell the receiver what your business does. If a person can't remember why they have your card, they will quickly discard it.
Keep it simple
Keep your business name short and easy to say, spell and remember. Avoid tongue twisters like Watson, Smith, Howiczak, Elton and Elton. Imagine the poor secretary who has to write down a message from that company!
Also avoid acronyms or names using initials unless they will mean something to your typical customer. If IBM had been started using that name instead of International Business Machines, it is doubtful that they would have been as successful. Letters mean little or nothing to your customer, and as a result, are quickly forgotten. IBM didn't begin using that name until the marketplace had already bestowed the shortened name upon them.
Keep it flexible
Don't let your name restrict you to a field that you may grow out of. Make the name expandable. As an example, Canned Software Company may sound good at first, but what happens if you decide to get into the computer hardware business? Or what if Mr. Smith ever leaves or sells Smith Watch Company. If it fails, what does that do to his reputation?
Don't use any geographical descriptions if that could ever become a limiting factor. For example, would a company called South Hill Accounting ever do work for someone located on the North side of town? In addition, geographical names generally overused, thus diluting your first impression.
After fads become passé, you will be left with a stale and outdated name, and that's probably what most people will think of your company too!
Names like Kitten Lawyer Services typically will not generate the confidence of your potential customers, or you for that matter. For the same reasons, avoid silly names. They will make potential customers roll their eyes and go to your competitor “Strongman, Johnson & Williams Legal Counsel, PS.”
Trade names can be registered through Small Business Notes (http://www.smallbusinessnotes.com/stategovernment.html). For wider marketplace protection, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (http://www.uspto.gov/). Businesses should first use the USPTO's online system to search all state and federal trademark registers to see if their proposed name is being used.
Sensitive words and expressions
There are some words and expressions that you can't use in a business name unless you have official permission. If you use these words without authorization, you might give a false impression about your business. They are known as sensitive words. The rules about sensitive words apply to all types of businesses and fall into five main groups:
Words that suggest your business is of national importance (American, National, International)
Words that suggest a special status (Association, Authority, Chamber of Commerce, Council, Institute, Society)
Words that suggest a particular function (Charity, Insurance, Register, Trust)
Words that suggest a specialized activity (Architect, Chemist, Health Center)
Words that suggest connections with the government (Washington Bureau of…)
So whether you are a mega company or the corner bistro, you have the tools to choose a business name that sells.