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What’s in a Name? Just About Everything

July 03, 2011

Potential customers will look at a name to get a sense of who you are and what you represent.

Business Tips Article
Cindy Hartin
ASU-SBDC Assistant Director


SAN ANGELO, Texas — How do small businesses come up with a name? It is very important.

Potential customers will look at a name to get a sense of who you are and what you represent. It is a part of their decision making process when choosing between you and your competition.

Names have the power to inspire strong feelings, attract or put off customers and to generate a buzz. Coming up with a good name can lead to increased sales. So, it is imperative small business owners should put some serious thought in choosing a name for their small business.

There is no way to ensure you are selecting the perfect name for your business. Some small business owners hire professionals to assist them, but it can prove costly. If you cannot afford to do that, you can get feedback from friends, family, colleagues or the SBDC would be glad to help.

Try to come up with 10 to 20 names for your small business. There are a number of factors to consider: What qualities do you want your potential customers to think of when they hear your name? Would you like a name that is broad, in case you plan to expand in the future, or do you want to be specific? What names are already being used by your competition?

Choosing a name that is descriptive of what your small business does can be very effective. If you are just opening your business and no one has heard of you, how will customers know what you do? By choosing a descriptive name, customers who are looking for a particular product or service will instantly know what you offer. If you want to be known by something more “catchy,” a descriptive phrase can be added onto the end of a more unique name.

Select a name that is easily spelled and pronounced. You want to make it as easy as possible for customers to find you in the phone book, online and in other listings. Often business owners use their last name, but make sure it is not too difficult to spell. You don’t want potential customers to mistype and accidentally find a competitor’s website.

A simple name may be a good choice for your small business, but you don’t want it to be forgettable either. A distinctive name can help create your brand and give you a competitive advantage. Your name should be easily spoken by word-of-mouth and should stick in people’s minds when they see it advertised.

Consumers are more likely to trust in a business whose name is strong and positive. Sometimes the right name summons what customers imagine a business represents, rather than its actual function.

Small business names are sometimes based on puns, but do these really help to draw customers in? It depends on your audience. Remember who your target market is and consider who you are trying to attract.

“Business Tips” was written by Paul Howard, Business Development Specialist and Certified Business Adviser IV of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact him at


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