Week 2 - Coming Up with A Good Business Name

There has never been a better time to start your own business.  We are here to help.  Year One is a weekly playbook for everything you need to do to get your business off the ground.  I can't guarantee your success, but I can guarantee you'll be much more prepared than we were!  

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So you have an idea, but you don't have a name.  I have to be honest, this was one of the most brutal parts of our entire first year.  I spent hours and hours and hours thinking about names.  It is so important to get it right, because if you don't, no one will EVER want to buy anything from you!  At least, that's how I felt.  This post will give you a few pieces of advice to help you with your biggest task yet, and tell you how we came up with 3 names for 3 different businesses.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GOOD NAMES

Don't Sweat It

Google, Bumble, Weebly, Jet Propulsion Laboratories, Chuck E. Cheese, FUBU... the majority of these words didn't even exist before they were business names!  So take a deep breath, and know that it doesn't matter as much as you think it does.  Still, you want a name that is catchy, easy to remember, and most of all something you're proud of.  

Loving Your Name

I can't stress how important this is.  You will say the name of your company A LOT.  Think of how many times you think you'll say it, then multiply that number by 20, and that's how much you'll say it in 1 week!  That's why it needs to be something you're comfortable with and proud of.  A route many people go is to use a family name, ie. Sanderson Farms, Walmart, Bacardi, Ben and Jerry's, etc.  All are great names.  Unfortunately, if you're in my boat, a last name like Smitherman can be a little tough to brand... and say.  

Easy to Pronounce

This one comes with a caveat.  I think naming your business something that can be pronounced 2 different ways can be an effective marketing tool.  But I think more often than not, it just confuses the customer.  It's probably your best bet to choose something distinct to you, and easy for customers to pronounce.  Why?  Because it makes it easier for them to tell their friends about you.  People want to talk about the things they're excited about.  What sounds better? - "hey, have you been to The Hamburger Hut?  It's so good." or "Hey, have you been to that hamburger place over on Main St.?  I can't pronounce the name... anyway, you should try it."  

It Should Lead Customers to What You Do

This one should be pretty self-explanatory.  There's a reason AutoZone doesn't make Italian food. Your name should in some way tell customers what you do.  I'm a fan of choosing names that are barely close enough to let people know what you do.  If I asked you if you've been to Olive and Thyme, you would immediately recognize it was something in the food world.  Your best guess would be that it's a restaurant, and you would be correct.   

Memorable or Distinct

This is more of a personal preference.  I think new business owners put a lot of emphasis on coming up with a cool name, instead of one of that is easy for a customer to remember.  Again, the goal here is to make it easy for your customers to refer you, and remember you.  

Know Your Audience

Depending on where you're opening up, and who you are marketing to, certain names may work better.  Here in Texas, people have a lot of pride in the state.  There's a place outside of Austin called "The Texas Pie Company".  It's a great name that plays to peoples' pride in the state, and causes them to want to support the business.  Another example is "ABC Luxury Realty".  You would have a niche, know your market and focus on marketing to that demographic.  When people do a search for "real estate agencies" in a major city, a ton pop up.  If an individual is on a strict budget, he/she will immediately pass by a company with the word "luxury" in it.  But that's okay because the opposite is true too.  If he/she IS wealthy, ABC Luxury Realty will be their first call.

WHY WE CHOSE OUR BUSINESS NAMES

Freebean Coffee - I'll give you 2 reasons.  1) I love the idea of breaking free from corporate America.  I want our company to be a symbol for people who feel like they don't have a chance to get out.  I want them to see that someone else who was in their exact same position did it, and then go for it themselves.  2) Along those same lines, we want to help entrepreneurs-at-heart financially.  That's why we are committed to giving a percentage of our profits away through our Small Business Grant Program (coming 2019).  We think of this as "free money" for the recipients.  Hence the name, Freebean Coffee.  The name is also easy to remember, easy to pronounce and tells customers what we do.

Ranger Hood Services - This was the name we were going with for the vent hood business I discussed in the Week 1 article.  We live in Texas, and the name Ranger is synonymous with the state.  We felt like it garnered immediate respect and credibility from the community.  It was also really easy to remember.

Basic Coffee Club - I LOVE this name.  We are co-founders of Basic Coffee Club, a coffee subscription that offers super high-quality coffee at a ridiculously low cost.  The idea is that we buy from micro-lot farms, but package and ship the roasted coffee as BASIC as possible.  By not spending money on fancy bags, fancy labels and fancy marketing, it allows us to spend more on coffee quality.  It is for coffee lovers who are tired of spending $16+ for bags of good coffee.  All of our marketing is centered around "simple is better", and "not paying for a brand".  It works well, especially since we strive to exceed expectations on quality. Check out www.basiccoffeeclub.com

So I hope this helps you!  Don't stress, let the name come to you naturally.  Just make sure it's something you're proud of, and you won't have any regrets.