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What’s in a name?

I see small businesses all over the Mornington Peninsula with some fantastic names. Careful consideration should go into the process of coming up with a name. Your products and or services may come and go, but you’ll have to live with your small business’ name for a long time.

You want a name that communicates your business and what it stands for. A name that sounds good when said out loud. A name that’s memorable and one that reflects the meaning and benefits that your small business offers.


To my mind, a name should deliver 3 key things to your business: make you easy to find, make you easy to remember and therefore make you easy to recommend.

Below you will find some food for thought to help you through the creative process of coming up with your business’ name:

  1. Maintain a focus on your customer base. What do you want your name to stand for in their eyes? Will your proposed name appeal to your demographic? A good example of doing this poorly is a BBC Dragon’s Den episode where the contestants had to produce a magazine for the over-60s demographic. One of the proposed names? Grave Dodgers!
  2. What do you want your name to imply to this customer base? Convenient, fun, unique, reliable, trustworthy, quality, exclusive, longevity, dangerous, fast, responsive, environmentally sound, inexpensive. Once you have a short list, run the names past your target audience and ask them to tell you what adjectives come to mind.
  3. Be mindful of any future expansion plans if you’re intending on using your location as part of your businesses name. Part of the reason why the Minnesota Manufacturing & Mining Company later became 3M.
  4. Admittedly initials have worked for some of the world’s largest organisations (think 3M and IBM) but not without decades of history and billion dollar marketing investments, but until this point, they actually communicate very little and should be avoided by start-up companies.
  5. While using slang characters or spellings may look quirky, they can throw up challenges when it comes to locating or searching for your business. It’s not great for your Google listing either to be using abbreviations such as ‘U’, ‘4’ and ‘r’.
  6. Be careful using metaphors; you can run the risk of sounding too trite. Pinnacle, Apex, Summit can sound insincere. Instead try implied strength – Melbourne-based Fetching Events I think is a brilliant example of implied strength, ability and success.
  7. Story behind a name. Giving your name a story can be a good talking point and make you easier to remember anecdotally.
  8. A suggestive rather than descriptive names is often more memorable. Can you guess what The Cod Father is? Does it help if I tell you their ‘tag line’ is “We’ll batter anything”?

The boring, but very necessary, legal part:

Of course there are the legal implications of deciding upon a name that must not be taken lightly. It is well worth doing the proper searches early on to avoid any costly and drawn out issues at a later date.

A Google search is a very good place to start, and may rule out some of your potential new business names straight away. The Business Names Register is held by the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) and is easily searchable.

Once you’ve decided upon a name, reserve the domain name (which you can check at www.mywebname.com.au/) and even the Facebook URL online. Even if you’re not intending on maintaining an online presence at point of launch, it may save you money in the long term.

After you have confirmed that the name you want is available you will need to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) through the Australian Business Register.

There is loads of information about starting a small business at Business Victoria, take the time to look around and make sure you know exactly what you have to do to get started,

Think of some business names and consider why you think they work. I don’t have a bad-mannered dog, but you can bet your life I’m telling dog-owner friends about Sit Happens! I’ve remembered it and I’ve recommended it. Job done.

To find out how I can help you with starting your new business, please contact PIER.