Choosing a business name can be sometimes frustrating, especially if the first one you choose is not approved by the company and business registration authorities. So, in this post, I am going to share with you my secret for choosing beautiful brand names.
As a serial entrepreneur, I get the need to register a business every now and then. Getting a viable and more than average business name that is not already registered by someone else is one challenge I used to face. Moreover, I have never encountered a dull day at the Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). It is always as busy as busy can be. The rate at which people register businesses these days make it very difficult to pick one if you are using words from the English Dictionary.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying all the names you can think of have been taken already. But you may most probably find choosing a name to be a daunting task if you want to use one that meets the criteria I have provided below. I have sent names to CAC many times only for them to be rejected and then I will send out more and get rejected again. Sometimes, this goes on for up to 2 months until we finally get something nice.
Characteristic of a great business name
- It should have global relevance: You never can tell what will become of your business in the next few years. With many venture capitalists coming to Africa with hard currency, anything that has the potential of making your business a multinational affair can happen. Naming your business after your grandfather’s native name might be a bad idea!
- It must be pronounceable: I have seen a few people who register business names that they have to teach you how to pronounce. They would say So-and-so Business Ltd (pronounced so-and-so). That is a mistake you should never make.
- It must be easy to spell: When I hear some people’s email address, I wonder why they are so … (I just want to say stupid! But I can’t!). Then, to my greatest amazement, every now and then, I get to encounter a business name one cannot spell without some help. The pronunciation and spelling of such names are in total disharmony. The reason for this is that people get to use the tweaked version of their horribly sounding nicknames (some from high school!) as business names.
In this age of internet, you want to have a business name that people can type on Google and find you without going through hell.
I prefer names that have an even distribution of consonants and vowels.
- It must tell what business you do at a glance: Well, what business is The Learning Edge Ltd into? Can you guess what business Techpartners Solutions Ltd is into? What about Kazmani Health & Wellness Ltd? What about Shepherd Media Concepts Ltd? You got it right. These are examples of businesses I have registered in the past. As much as you can, register a name that defines the industry you are doing business in.
- The domain name should be available: This is something many people do not consider when they are registering a business. We now live in a global village. I have done business with people in the US, South Africa, Cameroun, France and so on without leaving Nigeria. While seeking to register a business with the registration authority in your country, also check to see if the domain name is available. Buy the domain name before proceeding to register the name with the government.
How to choose a business name
Getting a business name that fits the characteristics above is quite a challenge. But once you get it right, the rewards would come skulking around you for grabs! I will share a few ways I have been able to get good business names below;
- Exploratory reading: I do this by just leafing through books in my library. When I find a word I like, that fits the business I intend to do with that name, I write it down and continue exploring. Then, I start eliminating some words while I tweak others. You might be lucky sometimes to even find a business name you can just tweak a little. I was reading Bill Zanker’s and Donald Trump’s book when I saw The Learning Annexe. All I did was replace the Annex with Edge and registered The Learning Edge Ltd.
- English to Spanish, German, Italian or French: I use this method when I begin to feel very desperate. I pick an English word and try to see if I can find a nice sounding and easy to spell Spanish, German, Italian or French translation of the word. This method has come in handy for me and for friends I introduced it to.
- Movies: When you are scanning everywhere for a business name, watching a movie can help to inspire you to find one. You might hear a word or name you can adapt for your own use. Or you can just hear a fictitious business name that catches your fancy and is easy to spell and pronounce and whose domain is available!
- General hunting: This is when you are “listening” for a business name wherever you find yourself. Dream, church, party, restaurant, everywhere! I got the Kazmani name I use for one of my businesses just by listening (well, it is not as though I was eavesdropping. I just happened to be there!) to a phone conversation. My colleague Olajide was speaking with this lady who called into the office. And I heard him ask her what her name was. She said it. Then he asked for her surname. And while he was writing it down and mouthing it at the same time, it was as though someone lit a light bulb in my head. Kazmani!!! It sounded musical. It was easy to spell and pronounce! I checked name.com and eureka, it was available! Yay!!!!!!!!!! I bought it immediately, I think for ten dollars or so. I sent it to CAC, and guess what, it was rejected! Why? They said someone had already registered Kazman. But I’m registering Kazmani!!! Well, I consulted my lawyer. He said to add something else as second name (like surname in #5 below). I did and it was approved. Who would have thought I would get such a sweet, musical name through someone else’s phone conversation?
- Name & Surname: This one is popular. Pick a word that represents the first name and then pick another word that represents a surname. For example, Cleaning Ace. Hmmm, almost sounds lame to me!
- Name combination: Well, if you can’t seem to get a name, you can combine parts of different names. I once heard that the chairman of Coscharis Group said the name Coscharis is a combination of his name, Cosmos and that of his wife, Charity. That makes a lot of sense to me. My wife’s middle name has “elo” in it. K is the first alphabet in Kingsley. So, I once named a business with “K” and “elo”. It is called Kandelo! Sounds musical, easy to pronounce and easy to spell!
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