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Find a business name

How to Find a business name when you are starting out on an incredible journey. It really does matter and here we tell you why.

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

What is important about a business name?

Your business name will become your brand, your identity, your logo, and what people remember about you. It is often a hard choice because of the many variables.

Who would have chosen Apple as a business name except for Steve Jobs and what about Nike or even Google for that matter.
The TV company LG is a simple name meaning Lifes Good but they started out as Lucky Gold Star. A pretty bad name unless you lived in Korea.

Then Volkswagon, Cisco, Yahoo Canon, Coca-Cola, and why was Pepsi-Cola not as good

These are names that need a million dollars in branding to get anywhere.

Your business name has many faces.

  • It should be a name people remember
  • A name no one else has the same
  • It should be in your URL
  • Not too many colours
  • Can you register it
  • Does it infringe a Copywrite
  • 6 digits are ideal

This gets really complicated so let's look at a few ideas.

How Exxon got its name.

exxon logo

This was interesting because I was around at this time working for a company called ESSO. There were many ESSO companies in the breakup of a USA monopoly so one needed a new name. Similar, easy, and rememberable.
They went on a worldwide search for a name that meant nothing in any language and eventually found one. Or thought they did. It is a remote language it referenced a part of the anatomy that we don't talk about, back to a search.
Others say it was because of a USA senator James Exon that they needed to add an extra X
Eventually, EXXON was chosen as the brand they wanted for worldwide recognition
It was an easy change in the four letters and they kept the colour the same.

How I chose the name of a company.

It was back in the late eighties and we had a new telecommunications business selling cheap phone calls.
Finding a name proved extremely difficult because of the number of companies in the same industry and nothing we thought of quite worked out.
We searched for days and without success and our deadline was getting closer by the hour.
I had started a consulting company some years earlier and wanted a name.
At that time and sitting at Singapore airport waiting for a plane I started on variables of my name.
My initials are PAH which was never going to make it but I added TH to become Pahth. It was ideal as my own business.
This then became Pahth Telecommunications which went right through to become a listed public company.

Was my business name any good?

I think so because it was a talking point on the spelling and people remembered and recognised the word.
It was short and I was able to register it in my URL and normal legal documents

Next best business name

I sold out of Pahth and went in a new direction with a company.
A business associate had a message service called Ergotel. It used no paper so was very ergonomic.
We were involved together in a project that unfortunately did not work out and he had to liquidate the company.
After some months I bought the shell of the company from the liquidator and had to rebuild the whole system and start from scratch.

I needed to find a new company name.

Again Planes and airports come into the story. I was flying interstate for a business meeting and had a pad and pencil writing down all the names that I could conjure up. Nothing suited me.

I had headsets on listening to music and I was on the classical channel. The announcer came between recordings and said you have been listening to a Joe Green Opera. This was a joke on anglicizing the real name of Guiseppi Verdi the great composer.
The Green bit got me because I was trying to be ergo-ised in my choice.
On further searching, I discovered that the word Verdi loosely means green in Italian.
Again I had a word that people could easily associate with and had a hidden meaning. The choice was Verdi business messaging and is still active in Australia to this day.

erdi logo

Business names come from funny places

I tell these stories because it is the path to follow to find something that suits your needs.
My names and indeed many others have followed a similar process.
Apple was chosen, it is said because Steve Jobs was on a fruit diet and had just come back from an Apple orchard and thought the name was cute. The bite was included so that it could not be mistaken for any other fruit.

Pencil in hand, earphone on, your starting ideas and start to go crazy.
Just write ideas without a lot of thought. Similar name, what they do, sounds, pictures anything that comes to mind.
If a name comes up that you like then Google it, plus variations to see if it has been used.
Next is your URL, OK .com has gone but what about .net or .info etc. You can find these on the Wealthy affiliate search tool for what is available.
You then need to register your name with the authorities but only if you are happy and moving on.

Name shortening is OK

Let's look at some ideas here like FedEx or UPS. Another real famous one is Amex where their real name is American Express.
Then we have the ABC or even NBN. Perhaps IBM and maybe GE.
All these started with longer names and came down to what people called them and you can too.

Trademarking names

To protect a name they can be trademarked as your own exclusive property. Likewise, you can search for names in your area in case the name you choose is trademarked.
This is important because it is very expensive to change a name after you have been operating and done all your branding material

Using colours in your name

Yes, this will stand out and look great and can sometimes be changed for certain purposes.
However, my warning is that the more colours the greater the cost of materials and printing. The same goes with filled backgrounds and intense logos that are difficult to print.
When you count your colours remember that the number one is usually black then add to that.

Apple computer logo
A colour has gone too far

This was produced to show the abilities in the Computer but most times it will be in Silver or Black. Don't you get caught keeping the printers in income?

Adding a USP to your name

Every business will have a Unique Selling Proposition or USP.
These short few words clearly define what you do.
At Apple, it is about User experience, and at Amex “Never leave home without it.”
Always think benefits with your USP, why people will come to you and not others.
FedEx, “when it definitely must be there overnight” or Dominos delivered in 30 minutes or it's free.
Woolworths is “the fresh food people” and so it goes on.

Interestingly I have a Bakery near me called Brighton Road Bakery. Nothing spectacular except the USP is “Voted by tradies the best pies in town”
When people ask where the best pies are the name comes up.

Don't skip this part because it reflects what you will do for someone with your name.
You could reverse engineer your name by starting with your Usp then getting a name that reflects the benefit.

Use your name as a business name

I have attached a Wiki list of thousands of companies named after people.
Lauder Air
Air Jordan
Eastman Kodak
Ford Motor company
Christian Dior

This is just a token representation of thousands of names used for companies.
So using your name is not a bad idea if it is easy to say and remember.

The three USP questions

Ask yourself these three questions

What do you do and no one else does?
Or what service do you provide and no one else?
Finally, why would people deal with you and not others?

Your Usp is to be found in the answer to one of these questions

Find a business name conclusion


I hope I have cleared a few obstacles for you and provided some ideas to work on.
There are times it will come like a bolt out of the blue and other times when you will need to labor long and hard.
No one way is the right way. Ford is a person's name, Apple is a Fruit yet American Express is a credit card.
IBM was International Business Machines and Exxon nothing. The drawing board is blank but the end is important so do your work and best of luck.
Don't hesitate to leave a comment if we were able to help.

Find a business name by Peter Hanley

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Peter Hanley
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