What's in a name? 7 things to consider when choosing your business name

Posted on 08 june 2018

Choosing the right name for your business is more than just being clever, or funny. It’s about choosing words that accurately reflect your brand, what you do, and words that will stand out in the minds of your future customers.

A name influences perception and may be the only signal a stranger has of what you offer and how you serve it. It may attract, repel or maybe worst of all, be forgettable. It’s part of your brand, a signal or reminder of the experience people have had with you or are expecting. It needs to appeal to customers and the media.

So, no pressure, right?

We’ve put together our top tips of things to consider when choosing the right name for your business.
 

1. Make sure the name gives a clue to your business

Nowadays, many people search for restaurants not by strolling around their local area, but by jumping online. This means that their first – and sometimes, only – understanding of your business will be via your name. So if you choose a name like ‘Mort’s Place’ – what do we know about you? Are you a cafe, bar, or fine dining?

Some better examples of ‘self-explanatory’ names include – Fresh Bean Cafe, David’s Steakhouse, Golden Crust Bakery Cafe, or Matt’s Big Breakfast. Already we have a visceral idea of who they are and what they sell.

2. Make it easy to pronounce

Whether it’s conscious or unconscious, people will avoid businesses with difficult or hard-to-pronounce names. Why? They can’t recommend it to friends, or give a review without feeling stupid.

Foreign words may be difficult for locals to say, which may mean they avoid using them (and visiting). Special memo to all Polish, Thai and Vietnamese operators!

An example – ‘Xu’ was the name of a stylish restaurant in Sydney – which has since closed – but people often looked up ‘zoo’ and couldn’t find it!

3. Short and sweet

Keep it to two or three syllables if possible: it’s easier for people to remember, and going to be much easier for your branding.

For example: ‘Waterside Downs Cafe’ sounds cute, but ‘Waterside Cafe’ is easier.

4. Be careful with puns

For some strange reason, people always tend towards dreaming up ironic or jokey names for their hospitality venues. Thai Panic, Thai Me Down, Bow Thai, Steakout Grill – sound familiar?

Sure, they may work for some, but your joke could go right over the heads of other people – especially if English is not their first language. Tone down the puns and opt for something classy and memorable instead.

On that note, avoid imitating big chains! ‘McCoffee’ or ‘Starducks’ might seem funny, but you will have their legal heavyweights chasing you in no time.
 

5. Avoid family surnames

You’re proud of your family, but businesses named after them can be harder to sell. There are many great businesses with a family name, but if starting afresh, avoid them.

A real example: Schindler’s Cafe opened some years ago and about 12 months later the film Schindler’s List was released. A wartime drama about the holocaust is the last thing you want connected to your business. Bad timing maybe, but should have been avoided.

6. Make it your own – legally!

Do your research before launching into a new name for your business. Double check it’s not already taken, and also consider trademarking it for further protection nationally and internationally.

Check the availability of the domain names; your website will be the second ‘shopfront’ behind the actual venue itself and needs to easily be found online.

7. Don’t hesitate to ask for help

If you’re really stuck, don’t settle for something that doesn’t feel right. There are plenty of affordable copywriters out there who can work with you on several branding components, including your business name. If you don’t have something perfect, then enlist the experts!

Choosing a name for your business is extremely important. Not only will you be stuck with it for quite some time (re-branding is a massive exercise), it will also play a large role in shaping the identity of your business.

Take your time, choose carefully, but most of all – have fun with it!