Eight best practices for choosing a company name that sticks

Your company name lays the entire foundation for your business and your brand. It’s how people will remember (or not remember) you, so you want your company name to be unique and meaningful to you, but also convey what your business is about. To help you get off to a good start, read on to learn the best practices to follow when it comes to choosing a name for your business.

1. DO make it obvious what your company provides.

While industry leaders like Google, Apple and Nike can get away with having an abstract name, it’s best to stick with something that describes what you do. It doesn’t have to be entirely straightforward, but including some form of promotions, marketing or branding in your name will help people figure out what you do without much marketing or guesswork.

Take it from Chris Manfredini, president of distributor Mavich Branding Group (UPIC: MAVICH) in Southlake, Texas. “Mavich Branding Group was created by combining the first two letters of my name and my siblings’ names: Maria + Vincent + Chris = Mavich. Our unique name with the addition of ‘Branding Group’ immediately grabs attention while informing people of what products and services we provide.”

2. DO choose a company name with an available .com domain.

If the .com domain isn’t available for your company name, that means there is probably already a company with that name. If someone else has the .com domain, they have a huge advantage over you and will be given preference in search engines.

3. DO think long term.

A name like “Max’s Branded Shirts” may seem like a great way to let people know what you sell, but what happens if you expand to offering more than just shirts? It’s better to name your company for what you aspire it to be in the future, rather than what it is right now.

An example of a distributor that adapted when it outgrew its name is Groggy Dog (UPIC: GROGDOG4), formerly known as Groggy Dog Sportswear. “As we have diversified our offerings from only screen printing and embroidery and added promotional products, we have dropped ‘sportswear’ from our name,” says owner Craig Jones of the Denton, Texas company. “While the name Groggy Dog does not immediately tell the customer what we do, it’s a name they all remember.”

4. DO strike a balance between personal and professional.

It’s great to add personality to your brand, but make sure it’s something you’re comfortable explaining. It’s okay to have a name that is near and dear to you, just know people will likely ask for the story behind it.

An example of a company name with a story behind it is that of Dallas, Texas-based Fluff, Inc. Owner Phyllis Catton says the story is near and dear to her heart because of her late husband, who helped name the company. “When we met, he nicknamed me Fluffy because of my hair and my positive attitude,” says Catton. “So when starting my own business, he said we had to name it after me. Advertising and marketing is fluff and stuff, and so it became Fluff, Inc.,” says Catton. “After I work with my customers for awhile, they start calling me Fluffy instead of Phyllis.”

5. DO think outside the box.

A unique name may be hard to come up with, but it will also be hard to forget. When you meet prospects, a unique name will be much easier to remember and your company will be top of mind over “The Promotional Products Company” when they’re trying to remember who to order from.

“I’ve been in the industry a long time, on both the supplier and distributor sides, and wanted a company name that was unique but also significant. When thinking about how promotional products tie marketing campaigns together by connecting several different marketing channels, Connect The Dots just made sense,” says Karie Cowden, MAS, president of Phoenix, Arizona-based distributor Connect The Dots Promotions, LLC. “I’m a very outgoing person and I wanted my company name to reflect that. I also wanted something that was quirky enough to make people remember it.”

6. DON’T choose a name that is difficult to spell or pronounce.

When searching for an available name, many companies make the mistake of replacing a ‘k’ with a ‘q’ or a ‘ph’ with an ‘f’. But this runs the risk of typos and increases the chance people won’t be able to find your correct website. You won’t always have a business card on you and you’ll soon grow tired of having to spell out your company name or email for people.

Likewise, if your company name is difficult to pronounce, it could weaken your brand awareness because people may pronounce it differently, causing some to think these are separate companies.

7. DO compile a list of keywords.

Or, rather, make a list of unique selling points or benefits you provide. If you want to be known as the most affordable promotional product distributor, you may want to consider using the keyword, “discount.” If you want to communicate that you only sell the highest quality products, you may want to consider synonyms for quality, such as diamond and A+.

When brainstorming a name for their company, David and Eric Natinsky, SAGE president and CEO, dove into a thesaurus. “We looked up synonyms for wise because our business tools make people wiser, and a sage is someone with profound wisdom,” says David.

8. DO consider how your name will affect your brand as a whole.

Your company name will shape your entire brand, so you’ll want to consider this when choosing yours. A great example of a company name that inspired an entire brand is Blue Monster Promotions. This Wildwood, Florida-based distribution company is owned and operated by Marc and Cheryl Kozak, who got their inspiration for the name from the Pixar hit movie, Monsters, Inc.

“Blue Monster is all about it being okay to stand out in a crowd. Be different and unique. Be proud to be a monster,” says Marc. The entire Blue Monster brand sticks to the monster theme. From their website, to their social media, to their mascot EULB the blue monster (blue spelled backwards), and even to them dubbing themselves Doctor and Nurse Blue, the Kozaks have stayed on brand and it’s paying off. Because of their name, their brand has become so popular that they now sell their own branded merchandise with their mascot on it.

Whether you’re just starting out or are considering a rebranding, take time to think through these best practices. By tapping into your creativity and avoiding some of the common mistakes, you’ll be able to create a name that will shape your business with an eye to the future.

Brooke Van Poppelen is marketing communications coordinator for SAGE.