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Where do you start with naming a business?

Where do you start with naming a business?

Posted 11th April, 2019 by Michael

At tsoHost, we’re in the name game. Thousands of customers come to us every year to get a domain name for their business. After 14 years in the industry, we’ve come to know what separates a memorable name from one that’s fast forgotten.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the statistics that show just how important your business name can be. Plus, we’ll look at hints and tips for creating a name that will go the distance with you.

What’s in a name – why your business name matters

In 1999 a start-up providing quizzes for social media sites was created and named Emode. A couple of years later the founders decided that their business name was too hard to remember and too dated so they changed it to Tickle.

The result?

A 30 per cent increase in traffic, more media coverage and a 20 per cent boost to ad spend effectiveness.

The names of businesses have also been found to have an impact on the performance of shares. A study commissioned by the Society of Personnel and Social Psychology discovered that stocks from companies with easy to pronounce names performed 33 per cent better over the course of a year than those from companies with harder to pronounce names.

What’s everyone else doing?

Recently Premier Business Care carried out an analysis of thousands of companies registered on Companies House to find out which kind of business names were common across the UK.

Here’s what they found:

  • More than 6,500 companies were using Oxford or Cambridge in their titles, drawing on the prestige associated with the area.
  • Green, blue and red were the most common colours mentioned in company names.
  • Fish, fox, dog and eagle were the most common animals name-checked in business names.
  • Orange, limes, apples and cherries were the most common fruits used.
  • More than half of company names contained between 17 and 27 letters.

Things to consider before you name your business

The domain name

It’s a little while ago now, but in 2012 The University of Pennsylvania carried out a study into the impact of domain names on website traffic.

It found:

  • Domain names of seven characters or less attracted higher traffic than those with 10 or more.
  • Adding a number to a domain helped to increase traffic by slightly more than eight per cent.
  • The addition of a hyphen to a domain name reduced traffic by almost three per cent.

Of course, it’s not always easy to get a .com or .co.uk domain that mirrors your business name exactly. Today, there are a new range of other domain name endings on the market – from .me to .beer.

Look at the acronyms

If your potential business name is made up of multiple words, make sure you look at what the acronym of those words might be. You don’t want your business to be known in some circles as WTF as the company Women Take Flight was.

Consider the connotations

It’s believed that the average person knows about 42,000 words. However, when humans learn new words, in many cases, they don’t just commit the dictionary definitions to memory. Across the course of people’s lifetimes many words start to develop secondary and tertiary connotations.

Here’s an example:

Take the word chocolate. It’s described in the dictionary as ‘a food in the form of a paste or solid block made from roasted and ground cacao seeds, typically sweetened and eaten as confectionery.’

On top of this, though, the word chocolate will make people think about pleasure and indulgence – all positive.

Now let’s take the word blood. Its dictionary definition is ‘the red liquid that circulates in the arteries and veins of humans and other vertebrate animals, carrying oxygen to and carbon dioxide from the tissues of the body.’

But many people will think of pain, suffering, injury and all sorts of other negative things when they hear this word.

Therefore, considering the associations and connotations of the words in your brand name is essential to ensure it will project the right image to consumers.

Linked to this is the concept of made up business names. Some of the biggest brands around have names that, at face value, seem to have absolutely nothing to do with the business – look at Apple and Google.

A made-up name won’t have any connotations, which can be a bonus. However, if you’re going down the route of a made-up name it should at least be memorable, and it should also reflect your company spirit and culture.

Is it simple?

A study by The Department of Psychology at Michigan University found that people associated hard-to-pronounce business names with risk. In particular, they discovered that food additives were judged to be more harmful when their names were trickier to pronounce, and theme park rides were rated as more likely to make a person sick if their names left people tongue-tied.

Think about voice recognition

It’s predicted that 50 per cent of all internet searches will be voice controlled by 2020. This has huge implications for the name of your business.

For starters, it means that you might want to think long and hard about spelling your business name in a non-conventional way. This could confuse the search engines.

Also, it means that the importance of having a pronounceable company name – as mentioned above – will be more important than ever.

Consider the sound

According to Christopher Johnson, author of Microstyle: The Art of Writing Little, the way words roll of the tongue can impact consumers’ feelings about them.

He differentiates between iambs and trochees.

  • Iambs are words that consist of a short syllable followed by a long one, such as ‘attain’.
  • Trochees are the opposite, for example, ‘garden’.

Christopher suggests that iambs have feminine and gentle connotations where trochees are harder hitting and more masculine.

Question its longevity

It can be easy, when considering how to name a business, to get caught up in current trends. For example, at the moment flamingos, unicorns, pineapples and cactuses are trending. Will this still be the case in 20 years time? Probably not. So, you might want to reconsider using these sort of trend-inspired terms in your business name.

Categories: Tips, Marketing, Small Businesses

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