20 Questions to Ask before you pick a Business Name
I see how excited you are... giggling in anticipation of revealing that unique business name you have come up with in your head. The one that will tell a special someone what they mean to you! Before you go ahead and announce it to the world, let's just check some things first, shall we?
1. Is the URL available?
This may seem obvious, but I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people sitting around dreaming up and deciding on the biz name that seems "perfect" to them, only to find the domain is not available.
2. Is the Registration name available in your country?
It is always a good idea to register the business name in your country, even if you only ever plan for it to be an online business.
3. Is the name Trademarked in another country?
Often we only search our own country to check availability, but doing a worldwide search for trademarks could save you heartache down the road
4. Is the Facebook Page available?
Seems obvious right? but there are so many startup businesses on Facebook that you would be surprised that most of our brilliant name ideas are already taken.
5. Is the Instagram Page available?
Although you may not want to use this platform right now, it is a great idea to still set up the page and grab your name so nobody else can use it. If the name is taken on any social media platform I would think really hard about the idea of adding a _ to be able to keep the name. You will simply be competing with the original version.
6. Is the Pinterest Name available?
Again, it may not be the platform for your business. It is mostly aimed at 40-60-year-old women which may not be your market, however, it is not hard to save the name, throw up a few pins and leave it to sit there for the sake of keeping your name across all platforms. And Pinterest is a major traffic driver to websites, so it is worth having about 10 different pins for every product or post directing to your site.
7. Is the Twitter Handle available?
People either love or hate Twitter. Whatever you think of it, having your business "handle" as it is called is important, even if it just sits there for the near future with a couple of introductory tweets.
8. Is the Youtube channel name available?
Youtube is the social media platform of the future. People love videos and How-To's so even if you cringe at the thought of making a video now, or can't see how that would fit into your business, I promise, down the track you will. So reserve your Business Channel name.
9. Are there any other names that sound similar?
People mistype all the time, plus when somebody is telling their friends about this great business they heard of it is easy for them to remember the name not quite right. Are there other businesses with a similar name that could be landed on instead of yours? Also under this topic, if there are similar business names what are they selling? Could it have a negative effect on your business?
10. Does the name make sense for SEO purposes?
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is how Google finds your business. Remember the Yellow Pages when everything was in alphabetical order? Google doesn't do it that way, it searches for what it thinks is the best possible match for the request so it’s important to make it easy and almost obvious.
11. How many people a year google the words in your biz name?
This is really important. It’s great to have a business name that gives you a warm fuzzy deep inside because it has a long-held secret meaning to you, but is anyone googling it? There is a Chrome extension called Keywords Everywhere that will tell you how many people are googling a month whatever it is you are putting in the search bar. Very useful for marketing and SEO purposes.
12. Does the name allow for a transition to a new name in future years?
Businesses always evolve and change. Let’s imagine you have spent 5 years building an online following and have nailed your SEO so that you are on the front page of Google, but now you are pivoting slightly in what you offer, or you want to change your business name to be your own name now that you have a large following. In many cases, social media for example will not let you just change the name of your page as it will believe that your followers may not be interested in the new content. Having a name that will allow for that in years to come will mitigate this issue. Let's use my other business as an example. It is currently Thyroid School. However, it could become Thyroid School with Kylie Wolfig. After that, it could swap to Kylie Wolfig's Thyroid School before eventually becoming just Kylie Wolfig if I so wished. Since I use Kylie Wolfig for business and earning money then that won't happen, but you get the idea.
13. Does the name allow for wordplay if you want to add subcategories to your business?
You may not think at the beginning of your business that you will end up with different offshoots but it happens in so many cases. Having a name that you can play with so that your branding stays true is a great way to put in place the possibilities for the future. I will use my other business again as an example. Thyroid School does what it says (great SEO right?) but what if I want to add different courses to that platform? As it happens, I have and I now have Thyroid “Oil” School and Thyroid “Business” School and Thyroid “Mindset” School. I am able to keep within my branding and add offshoots that have their own branding but are clearly linked to the umbrella business.
14. Is the name easy to say?
When you are telling others your business name, do they ask you to repeat it? Do they say “sorry, what was the name again?” If that happens when you tell your name idea to a few close family members or friends, then you may want to rethink it. Perhaps it’s too long? Or perhaps it's just too fancy or simply doesn't make sense? Make it easy to say by imagining you are casually saying it over your shoulder to someone as they walk away. Would they need to stop and come back to you to understand it?
15. Is the name easily spelled?
Or will you be forever spelling it out? I grew up having to spell my surname to everyone who asked my name. I now have a married name that I have to do the same thing, although I dreamed of marrying a "Smith" or a "Jones" (you can't choose who you fall in love with right?). Do you want to be doing that with your business? Do you want to risk the potential client misspelling your business name and not finding you online? Make sure it is easy to say and spell.
16. Does the name tell people what you do instantly?
If it does, then not only will you be easy to find on google and your SEO is one step ahead, but it makes it easy for people to know what you do when they find a random business card somebody has left behind (by mistake I’m sure). Originally when I became a Naturopath my business name was "Make Healthy Simple" but nobody googles that right? And it doesn't really tell people that I work with people struggling with Thyroid Disease does it? The number of people (sadly) googling the word thyroid is through the roof, so that will help google to find me.
17. Do the initials of your business spell something weird or wonderful?
Eg Outback Media Group (OMG) or Australian Stock Services (ASS) I would hate for you to get a couple of months into your beautiful new business and business name only to have somebody point out to you that the initials spell out something horrid! I have a Youtube Channel that I started recently that is called The Chronicles of Loving Me (COLM) however the name was going to be The Chronicles of Kylie (COK) see the problem there? The upside to having initials that spell something great is that you can use it as a shorter email for example or as a different logo, or a nickname to call your followers.
18. Does the name allow you to shorten it to something catchy?
Following on from the initials spelling something, can your name, in general, be shortened? It may be an Aussie thing to shorten names (including business names) but it is a sign of affection and it is a great way of being able to casually refer to your business in conversations without actually saying it and sounding like you are an advertisement.
19. Does the name allow you to call your followers on social media a great nickname so that they feel a part of your tribe?
Denise Duffield-Thomas is a great example here. She has made her name from her original book “Lucky Bitch” which was also the name of her original website. Denise has a money Bootcamp online course where she teaches women how to remove money blocks and has many loyal followers who call themselves “Lucky B's”. Eventually, Denise landed a publishing contract with Hay House who requested she no longer uses the term “Bitch” so her website became her own name. The nickname though had already begun morphing into Lucky Bee’s over the years as followers started sending her Bee paraphernalia and now some of her branding includes Bee logos.
20. Does it have the feeling of whatever you are selling?
This may sound a little woo-woo however if your business name is sharp or harsh sounding but you are selling hoodies for puppies then there will be a disconnect that the customer may not notice but could feel. It may also cause somebody to scroll right past you when looking for a puppy clothing store if your name is Brutus Stud Collars dot com. People shop with their hearts in most cases, so making sure the feeling matches the product is vital.
Final Wrap Up: Your magic Business Name does not have to tick off every single point here. Most names won’t. It is important though to consider each step and then decide if it’s a deal-breaker or not.
Some of the questions are more important than others, so decide what’s important for you and your business and if you are happy that it ticks enough boxes then go ahead and get your business started! Don’t let your business name indecision be the cause of you not starting your business.
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