How to Create Good Business Names

How to Create Good Business Names

Every trick you see an animal doing in a show has a name. When choosing the name, there are four rules I kept in mind. The name had to be easy to say, easy to remember, easy to spell and explain what the trick is.

By abiding by these rules I could ensure that all trainers would be able to communicate effectively. As you will learn in this article, having effective communication could mean the difference between life and death. The name you choose for your business has similar consequences.

As part-time business owners we have to give ourselves every possible advantage. Much of your competition works full-time, so when choosing a good business name you can’t afford to be lazy. Good business names can mean the difference between early success or failure.

Coming up with the name of your company can be fun! Grab some friends, pour the margaritas and start brainstorming! When it comes to tweaking the name and finalizing it – make sure it follows the same four rules I used when choosing the name of a trick.

1. Easy to Say

Make sure the name is easy to say.

Crucial for Killer Whale Trainers

During shows, each trainer would ask their whale to complete different tricks. At the same time trainers called out the name of each trick to ensure that the other trainers were aware. We did this for two reasons; one, it made sure that the audience wasn’t seeing the same tricks over and over and two, it ensured that the whales would not collide in mid-air. A collision could cause serious injury and even death. Trainer One might yell, “front-flip!” while Trainer Two might yell, “fast swim!” This way Trainer Three knows not to ask their whale to do a front-flip or a fast swim.

This communication was only possible because the names were easy to say. With a cheering crowd and loud music, a name that was difficult to say could have resulted in miscommunication. This miscommunication could lead to a boring show and/or injury for the whales. Keeping things easy to say made everyone’s life better. This same thought process applies when creating good business names.

Crucial for your Business

The first thing potential clients do when they see your company name is say it in their heads. If they have trouble pronouncing it, you have damaged your first impression.

Many entrepreneurs choose “funky” names like, “Feecho” or “Beglizzer”, because they think it will make them look “cool.” A company like Google is playing by a different set of rules. A business name that could be hard to say doesn’t make your company look cool, it makes people irritated. Don’t irritate your customer before they even pick up the phone to call you.

Using your personal name

You may be tempted to use your own name. “Bob’s Tutoring LLC” for example, is easy to say, but does it give your company credibility? Do I really want to give my money to somebody named “Bob?” What does “Bob” know about tutoring? What if my hellish boss is named Bob?

Using your personal name can also make you look weak. Your consumer may view you as a one-man band and turn to your more “capable” competitor. You are building a business, so choose a name that reflects that.

Instead of “Bob’s Tutoring LLC” try:

“Lakeland Tutoring LLC”– gives clients your location.

“Lakeland In-Home Tutoring LLC” – tells clients you travel to them.

“A+ Tutoring LLC” – gives that parent hope for their “C-” child.

“Math Tutoring Center LLC” – tells clients the specific subject and also implies that clients come to you.

“Extra Push Tutoring LLC” – evokes that your business gives a little “extra” to their clients.

All of these names are easy to say and that is what’s important. A name that is easy to say not only gives your customers a good first impression, but also makes it easier to remember.

Is your company name going to be easy to say?

2. Easy to Remember

Make sure the name is easy to remember.

Crucial for Killer Whale Trainers

When I worked with killer whales there was a staff of 30 trainers, 7 whales, and over 1500 different names of things we had trained. There was no time for complicated and hard to remember names. We needed to be able to memorize and recall names in an instant. To do this, we made sure that each name was easy to remember.

Memorable names often describe themselves. For example, “front-flip” tells the trainer exactly what the whale will do. It is easy to remember that “front-flip” means the whale will do a front-flip. However, there were occasionally no words that described themselves. What do you call it when a whale swims at the surface of the water and then splashes the audience at three specific points around the perimeter? We decided we could call it a “zipper.” It is easy to say and remember. Occasionally trainers would name a trick something complicated like, “perimeter 3-point splash attack.” I have 1500 names to remember, how do you expect me to remember “perimeter 3-point splash attack?” “Zipper” is much easier to remember and I can easily say it.

Crucial for your Business

Have you sat through an entire commercial and afterwards thought, “what was the name of that company?” Having a memorable name can give your company better results.

On average, people will not respond to an ad until they have viewed it at least three times. They can only respond if they know who to respond to. It is not enough to have awesome ads, you have to have a memorable name. Good business names will stick to those who see it.

 A Name for the Dogs

I had a dog training company called, “Pinky’s Dog Training.” Every component of our brand was centered around the color pink. Personally I am not fond of the color pink, but it allowed us to have an instant edge on our competitors. Nobody would forget our the name “Pinky’s” in pink coloring. At the very least they would remember “Pink” and search “Pink + dog trainers” in Google and find our website.

Is your name going to be easy to remember?

3. Easy to Spell

Make sure your name is easy to spell.

Crucial for Killer Whale Trainers

Perhaps the most recognizable Killer Whale in the world is Shamu. Shamu is the icon of SeaWorld and has entered the hearts of millions of children. “Shamu” is easy to say, it is easy to remember, and it is also easy to spell. Why does this matter?

Having a name that is easy to spell encourages sharing. Kids can share their love for “Shamu” much easier than they can share their love for “Shahumimoomoah.” In this article from 1989, The Daily Press discusses how “Shamu” may become a “marketing sensation” as the name gets branded on every imaginable piece of merchandise. If a child can spell “Shamu”, the can say it, and if they can say it – they will. Making “Shamu” easy to spell catapulted the Shamu brand to success. So much so that the name remains unchanged. If you can create something good from the beginning, you may not have to change it down the road.

Crucial for your Business

The 3rd Grader Test

In order to determine whether or not a name is easy to spell, I put it through the “3rd Grader Test.” I ask myself, “could a third grader spell this name?” If there is any doubt in my mind, then the name is too complicated and it is reconsidered. If possible, ask an actual 3rd grader to spell your business name.

This is one rule I broke with the name “Pinky’s.” There are so many variations of “Pinky’s” and therefore difficult for people to spell. There is:





All of these variations caused issues in communication. Customers would try to e-mail us at “Pinkies,” for example. Or I would spend extra time on the phone trying to help a customer spell our name. It is frustrating and definitely decreased potential leads. I even had to buy domain names for each misspelling so I could redirect traffic to the correct website.

If I were to go back and do things differently I would have chosen the name “Pink.” Very few people will misspell “pink.”

Could a third grader spell your business name?

4. Explains What your Company Does

Make sure your name explains what your company does.

Crucial for Killer Whale Trainers

When another trainer tells me their whale is going to do a breach, I know exactly what they mean. If a trainer told me their whale was going to do a “Waffle Pancake” I would have no idea. A name that self-describes takes the guesswork out of the equation.

“SeaWorld” is a great example of how a name can showcase what the business offers. Just from the name “SeaWorld” I expect to be immersed in the discoveries of the ocean. The name “Water World” makes me believe it is a water park and not related to the ocean. Naming the park “Fun Land” evokes thoughts of putt-putt golf and arcade games – not whales and dolphins. If you arrived expecting a water park or mini-golf you would be very disappointed to find that there were only dolphins and whales. By choosing a self-describing name, SeaWorld was better able to attract visitors who wanted to be there. Visitors who want to be there are happier and increased the value of the SeaWorld brand.

Crucial for your Business

You must make sure that your company name gives potential customers insight to what you offer.

My dog training company wasn’t just called “Pinky’s,” it was called “Pinky’s Dog Training.” Anyone who sees that name knows exactly what we offer. If I had only used “Pinky’s,” potential clients would have no idea what the company offered – possibly causing them to look elsewhere. If I am searching for someone to come to my house and bathe my dog I am more likely to call “Elite Mobile Dog Grooming” than “Shampooch.”

Do not have a name like, “Positive Services” or “360 Solutions.” I don’t know what you do! I know you provide a service or solutions to something – but your name doesn’t tell me what I will be getting if I hire you! Don’t be mysterious. Be direct. When you are trying to find someone to come fix your refrigerator are you attracted to vague business names? Of course not. People want answers, so give them answers. Explain what your company can do for them!

Will you have a company name that is self-describing?

Tag-Lines to The Rescue!

If you are struggling to find a business name that meets the above criteria, consider using a tag-line as a solution.

When starting my Killer Whales business I hesitated with the name. It was easy to say, easy to remember, easy to spell, but it said nothing about what this blog was about. Is it a blog about landing big clients (also known as “Whales”)? Is it a blog about the whaling industry? It was unclear.

Friends argued that this lack of clarity was good – prompting readers to explore further. I disagreed and argued that readers don’t want to explore – they want to read – and they want to know what they will be reading.

Other names I considered were:

“Killer Whale Training & Business” – too long and hard to remember.

“Whale Training & Business” – still not clear. Would people really think it was a blog about how to run your business using Killer Whale training techniques? Probably not.

Finally, I realized the solution was not in the name, it was in the tag-line.

We kept the original name “Whales & Business” and added the tag-line: “Run your business like a Killer Whale Trainer.” I thought this would be clear for the majority of people and even if some confusion remained – readers would at least know it was a blog how to run a business.

Will your tag-line improve your company’s message?

Why Google and Nike don’t follow these rules

You are not Google or Nike – they have much different rules.

Part-time businesses are not major corporations. Google and Nike have spent and continue to spend millions of dollars each year to build their brand.

Our budget is slightly smaller and we need to reach our customers right off the bat. If you have a company that sells cookies and name it “Speo,” how will people know you sell cookies?

Final Thought

Your name is an advertising vehicle all it’s own. In fact, it is the flagship for all your future marketing and advertising. You need to make sure that this component of your business is serving you in the most optimal way possible. Your business name should be:easy to say, easy to remember, easy to spell & explain what your company offers.

Good business names have better results and a much easier time entering and competing in their market.

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