What do Subway, the WWE, and Twitter all have in common? They’ve all changed their business name. In 1968, Subway was known as Pete’s Super Submarines. Their name was often misheard as “pizza submarine,” giving customers a false impression about food sold there. In 2006, Twitter followed the short-lived vowel-cropping trend and used the name “Twttr.” Had they not changed, their name would be a symbol of a bygone era. Then there’s also the age old debate of leaving off the .com.
What’s in a Business name?
Everything. A good business name is the first step towards growing brand awareness. It’s as much an aspect of marketing as color, logo, and advertisements. If a business owner chooses the wrong name, it signals to customers that their company lacks self-awareness, attention to detail, due diligence, or a combination thereof. Given that 65% of Americans dream of starting a business, more people should be aware of what a critical first step naming can be.
5 Easy Steps to Find Your Business Name:
1 – Write out a list of keywords and phrases. In this step, the business owner should think about how they do business and who they do business for.
2 – Create a long list of name ideas. Never commit to a particular word or phrase immediately, and stick to sensible choices over those that make people laugh.
3 – Search the Trademark Electronic Search System and state databases to make sure none of their name ideas are already in use. No one wants to find the perfect name only to land in a lawsuit.
4 – Consider what the business name does for the company’s brand. How will it be represented in a logo design and brand colors?
5 – Check for website and social media availability. So much business is online nowadays that it would be a shame if your business couldn’t capitalize on it. Similar website names and social media handles create confusion for potential customers.
Make it Memorable
At the end of the day, make sure the business’s name is memorable, differentiates from competitors, and clearly defines the business. Stay away from short-term trends and difficult to spell/pronounce names. Too much is riding on the naming decision for a business owner to not take it seriously.
What happens if a company gets it wrong? What if they follow in the path of the companies listed above and realize a need to change their name? Rebranding is certainly possible, but it can be quite costly. Businesses have to hire attorneys to update filings with the IRS, state governments, and local governments. They have to update legal documents and contracts to reflect the change. They have to change any trademarks, patents, or copyrights the business possesses. New advertising and promotional materials must be bought. Websites, social media, and company logos have to be updated as well. For a small business, rebranding costs up to $180,000 plus 8 months of work.
Avoid the hassle. Get your business name right the first time.