A little more than a year ago I left the Denton County Courthouse with a registered business, a million Instagram pictures to prove it, and zero understanding of how to actually run a business. I wasn't a business major in college, and although marketing and pretty aesthetics come naturally to me, profit and sales aren't necessarily my forte. I was a baby-business owner excited and pumped to make millions of moolah over night (um, for realzzz, a year and a half later and I STILL feel like a baby business owner moving ever so slowly into toddler-dom--- and let's be clear, I did NOT make millions overnight and probably never will).
When you register your business you register it under a name - or more precisely, its name.
While I don't think a business name is THE MOST important part of your business, it can be one of the KEYS to unlocking your customer's hearts and wallets (don't even get me started on how weird it feels to actually take REAL money from people I call "clients"... WILL I EVER GET USED TO RUNNING A BUSINESS??). A business name is a first impression and while it can be fun, silly, and whimsical, I've really come to discover (through my own trial and ERROR) your business name should also describe what your business can do for your customer.
Your business name should describe what your business can do for your customer.
I brainstormed a bajillion different names a year ago, and finally narrowed it down to three:
1) Staciestine.com - how can you go wrong with naming your business after yourself? Your customer automatically remembers your website name because they know your name. Win/win!
2) Designjamboree.com - I had really loved this name since college and kept thinking it would be a great name for my website/blog with the title being vague enough to give me the freedom to make my website whatever I wanted so long as it stayed in the realm of creativity and fun.
3) Straightfromtheirongboard.com - This was the one I chose. The one I weighed pro's and con's for the least.
I wanted SUCH a smooth and catchy business name a year ago, I tried too hard. I'm a sucker for puns and clever names--- I headed that direction so quickly I didn't really stop to ask myself whether or not the business name I chose ACTUALLY described the purpose of my business. I'd had an antique Ironing board we used as a table and I thought to myself, THIS UNIQUE TABLE WILL BE PERFECT FOR MY SHOP NAME. I could even make this into a pun! The greeting cards I make are "Straight" from my ironing board, just like clothes when you iron them on an ironing board, they become straight! Confusing right? Plus, it took a lot to explain what it meant to potential customers. Never a good thing.
A lot of a business names comes down to your idealistic choices vs. your realistic choices. I'll let you in on what I was thinking a year ago vs. what I'm thinking now. All of which, has led me to rename and rebrand my whole biz just a year after I started it.
OVERLY-IDEALISTIC-STACIE'S THOUGHT PROCESS: "The whole world will look at my business name and immediately understand this shnaaazzzy ironing board pun. I will become a billionaire strictly from my cleverness, and everyone will ditch their kitchen tables for ironing boards! My business name will start a table-revolution and my greeting cards will invade the planet making me a partner at Rifle Paper Co. within just a few months. MUHAHAHA." Did I mention I was overly idealistic?
REALISTIC-STACIE'S THOUGHT PROCESS after learning A LOT more about business and branding:
Business names shouldn't be overly long.
- Straightfromtheironingboard is WAY TOO LONG and difficult to type. My email was long. My website URL was long. EVERYTHING ABOUT IT WAS TOO LONG.
- Real life example: One of our favorite coffee houses in Denton used to be called Art Six (it's rumored a family was murdered there and then it got turned into a coffee shop--- isn't that so bad ass!?). The owner of Art Six had to sell, but the new owner kept the house and coffee shop running and renamed it to **drum roll** Two V's and A B. WHAAA??? Their new name, brand, and logo was SO long and confusing the business didn't last long and the name was changed less than a year later.
A name should describe a business.
- SFTIB described nothing about my biz. At ALL. At first glance, an outsider would probably think I was in the business of ironing people's clothes.
- Design Jamboree: Photography and Design gives my website and business a lot of flexibility now AND in the future--- it also describes my own personal values for having fun and celebrating others.
A name should fit into a missions statement or description of you and what service your business offers.
I shouldn't expect potential customers to FIND this information on my website, it should be obvious when they look at my website title and description below---- I've come to appreciate having a website tagline/blurb that gives a short description of what I do. I don't want anyone taking guesses or leaving my site because it's unclear. The first thing a customer sees when they pull up my website, is my business name and mission statement:
Are you starting a small business and trying to figure out what to call it? Or maybe you want to make some rebranding changes to your website or small business?
Why don't you consider these 5 questions as you make one of your first of many business decisionshow you want to represent yourself and your biz:
- What is my business/service?
- Of all the names I've brainstormed, what are my top three choices?
- What are the pro's and con's of my top three choices?
- Which name describes my business the best at first glance?
- Which name do I think will stick with the customer/make the customer choose to use my business?