Top tips for naming your start-up business

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Top tips for naming your start-up business

THE story is that back in August 1998, Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim made out a cheque for $US100,000 to a company called Google Inc. Problem was it did not exist back then.

What did exist was which was registered as a domain in September of the previous year by the search engine co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

According to the Google website, this name was a play on the word ‘googol’, a mathematical term for the number represented by the numeral 1 followed by 100 zeroes. It reflected their ambition: the co-founders wanted to organise huge quantities of information on the web. Google filed for incorporation in California the next month.

Today, Google is used worldwide as a verb when the need to search for something online arises.

Take the software company named Six Apart. Why six and apart? The reason is that the co-founders were born six days apart from each other.

This is an example of a business name that is easy to remember, but has a resonance especially after hearing the logic behind it.

While naming the business could be put on the backburner in the nascent stage of planning, it is good to remember that the business name is the name under which the business trades.  (

Here are some useful tips on naming your business:


How does the name sound?

Does it sound dull and conjure up images of a bricks and mortar type business? This could be important if the start-up relies heavily on online sales and marketing. Think of how it will sound when social media is harnessed to market the product.

An Instagram account with a zingy name could pull in viewers initially. That being said, a frivolous name that could do well in social media may not inspire confidence where it needs – in the target market.

Be creative but not too obscure

Everyone likes a good pun. It makes for a good water-cooler conversation. But a name that is too clever and makes people ponder what it really is, may not be a good idea.

Maybe the product is so unique that it speaks for itself. So getting that name in plain sight could be just as effective. For example, a restaurant that sells a certain type of cuisine or a shop that hawks a unique product could do with the name of the product itself instead of some obscure reference that has potential customers wondering what on earth is the product.

Names that look like spelling mistakes

How many times has one had to check and see if the name of a company has been spelt right?

While a funky name may look good on social media, it should be easy for people to search.

Also, while doing business, getting the name spelt correctly should be paramount.

Long names

A long name may not make for a neat business card. Not all nicknames are cute.

Clients or even staff may tire of saying the whole name and may shorten it to something that may not be flattering to the business or the product.

Make a list

Making a list is always exciting. Whether it is heist movies we have seen in order of preference or places we have visited or want to visit.

So why not make a list of potential business names that would grace your domain name or letterhead or shopfront, and whittle them down to the one that feels right?

What does it signify?

Is the name of the small business too generic? Does the name give the consumer enough information? Perhaps something specific to the product would pinpoint what the business is all about but not to the point where it is too restrictive.

Is it too boring or too hip? Is it memorable?

Getting that catchy name, one that sticks in the minds of people and encapsulates the small business sets you up on the entrepreneurial journey.

Key factors

The Australian government’s business site points out key factors about choosing a business name:

  • How is your business unique from competitors?
  • What image do you want to communicate to customers?
  • Are any businesses already using the name you have in mind?
  • Is your proposed name also available to be registered as a domain name for doing business online?
  • Is there any chance that your proposed name could be misunderstood?

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