What’s in a name? Lots, actually. When it comes to business names, choosing the right name is essential. A good business name sends out positive messages to the public, summarises the key benefits of what you provide and sets you streets ahead of your competitors.
The wrong choice of business name can sink you in a nanosecond.
It’s important to put aside some thinking time to make the right choices with your business name. Arguably, one of the perils of small business ownership is the fact that there are so many choices. It’s your business, so you can do whatever you like. Including making the wrong decisions. Here are some major catastrophes-waiting-to-happen that are best avoided.
No one wants their business to look like a cheap personalised number plate. Avoid your individual take on spelling, unless it is very subtle or is deliberately chosen for legal reasons. Best to avoid using numbers for letters and symbols as well. Here are a few stinkers to illustrate the point:
- Massage 4 U
- RU Stressed Massage
- Mas Sirs!
- Mel’s Mas-aaahh-j
Sometimes geo-targeted names (names with geographical locations in them) can be a winner – especially for appearing on Google in the maps section. They can make it seem like you ARE the business of choice for your area e.g. St Kilda Physiotherapy Centre, South Yarra Counselling Services. But do take care – if you choose your business name to include the suburb you live in just because you are renting a room there with your brother, it could spell disaster when you move.
Fancy, clever names
No one loves it when you try to be ‘clever’. Not only is it self-indulgent, but it’s downright annoying. Calling your massage business “Chandrakala Eshana” because it sounds exotic, and it’s Sanskrit (and you’re deep and spiritual ‘n all) is not going to do you any favours. Imagine your poor, tired potential client, sitting in traffic, desperately trying to plug your name into Google on her mobile phone. How hard you want to make it?
Imagine also how your clients that did find you, go about spreading your name around town…“No, really, call them. They’re called Chan – Kar Darkala. No, Chan, Dracula, Um, No. Ishala Darklana…”
Business doesn’t do ‘cute’. It is really not the place. Avoid cute names or references to some private joke that only you and your boyfriend understand. Now is not the time for any of the following:
- My Very Own Massage Clinic
- Becka’s Baby
- Sarah’s Soft Touch
Contriving names for first place in directories
Yes, we’ve all seen Aardvark Plumbers advertising in the local papers. It’s been done. You can do better than that. Admittedly, having a name that starts at the beginning of the alphabet can have strong benefits when listed in directories. But don’t be silly. Abacus Massage is not a good business name. It’s a foolish mistake. Oh yes, and unlike the old printed Yellow Pages, Google doesn’t rank your website in alphabetical order.
Not checking to see if your name is available
Obviously if you make this mistake, you won’t go very far because you won’t legally be able to start trading. Do your research – don’t quickly decide the name, then print up business cards, brochures and organise a website only to find that the name is taken. Check online to see that your desired name is available first.
Quick tips on making the right choices
So now you know what to avoid, but what SHOULD you do? Here are a few quick tips:
Examine your key elements, target demographic and benefits you will offer
Ask yourself what is unique about your business. What do you want to communicate? What are the key elements of your business? The more you can communicate via your business name, the less you’ll have to explain elsewhere.
If you specialise in deep tissue massage, you might want to make references to powerful words like “deep” or “strong”. If your target market is mainly corporates and executives, think about a name that references this.
Do a trademark search to make sure you’re not infringing on any trademark laws. Even if you have the green light, be careful about playing too close to the edge. The last thing you want is a letter from a highflyer’s lawyer informing you that they don’t like your choice.
Write down your favourite business names
Once you have your short-list of favourite names, write them down. You can get quite specific about this and see how they would look on a business card, on letterhead stationery or a brochure. Think about your website. What would it look like as a URL (the address of the website sitting in the address bar of your browser)? If the name is too long or difficult to spell, this could be a problem.
Remember too that your email address will probably incorporate this name, so if it’s too long, everyday activities are going to become a nuisance e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
Ask the opinions of people who understand business
It’s important to ask people for their opinions on your potential business names. Be discerning regarding who you ask though. Ask for opinions from people who run businesses or understand the business world. Your auntie, boyfriend or girlfriend may love you, but they may not offer the best business advice.
Choosing a great business name is just one part of starting your own successful massage therapy business. For more great tips and tricks, see our blog: Top 10 tips for starting your own massage business.
Sage Institute of Massage – it’s more than a job, it’s a rewarding career.
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