Name it right for the best head start
What's in a name? A great one is a talking point and can really make a business, writes Anneli Knight.
Your business name can shape and even limit the scope of your business. So how do you come up with a name that nails it?
Co-founder of organisational story-telling consultancy One Thousand and One, Yamini Naidu, says after deciding what your business will do, your business name is the second most important decision to make.
Naidu and her business partner, Gabrielle Dolan, came up with the name for their business while brainstorming on a park bench in Melbourne eight years ago. After the pair confirmed that story-telling would be their focus, the conversation turned to their favourite stories.
"We both loved [the book] One Thousand and One Nights, and we both loved [the heroine] Scheherazade but we thought, that's too difficult to pronounce and spell," Naidu says.
In the story, Scheherazade avoids being executed by the king in ancient Persia by ending every night with a cliff-hanging story, to be continued the next night.
"For us Scheherazade demonstrates the power of storytelling and that storytelling can save your life," Naidu says, a theme that resonated with their business focus.
The pair decided to call the business One Thousand and One, in reference to the book: a name that was easy to remember, spell, pronounce and had meaning.
It was then a practical matter of checking the business name register and domain name availability, Naidu says.
"We also wanted to spell out the number: it's about slowing down and creating authentic connections with people," she says.
Naidu often discusses business names with her clients, and she says it's important your business name doesn't restrict the scope of your business into the future.
"You don't know what you'll be doing five years down the track."
Video Ezy is an example of a name that has dated, she says.
"For me Video Ezy is about entertainment. If they'd had entertainment in their name they would be more timeless," she says.
"Think about what you really stand for -are you about connecting people, inspiring, communicating? - and go with that hierarchy."
For Abi Crompton, director of Third Drawer Down, which began 10 years ago offering limited edition artwork on tea-towels, the name of her business was self-evident.
"When I look back there was no other option except Third Drawer Down because that is where people keep their tea-towels. But for me to use that name I really needed to know that that was where other people kept them," she says.
Crompton took on a "sociological project" looking at historical research and vox-popped friends and random strangers.
"I'd be in a nightclub and go up to a stranger and ask, 'Excuse me, do you mind me asking where you keep your tea towels?' I had the most fascinating conversations with people about their domestic lives," she says.
The name has continued to be a talking point and has also generated publicity. Soon after her business launch, Reader's Digest interviewed Crompton and ran a reader survey to ask if people kept their tea-towels in their third drawer: 75 per cent said yes.
Crompton says the great thing about the third drawer in the kitchen is that it is also used to store other random items - "[Comedian] Jimeoin had a song about the third drawer and all the shite that you keep in it" - so the name didn't limit her business scope when she began stocking quirky design products.
Global relevance is also important when naming your business, if you plan to expand overseas. Crompton says while Americans commonly use the third drawer, Europeans have different storage habits for tea-towels, but they enjoy hearing the quirky origins of the name, she says.
Byron Bay resident Sarita Merlo was not worried about limiting the scope of her business with the practical and descriptive name of her herbal tea company, The Byron Bay Tea Company, and she hasn't regretted it in the eight years she has been in business.
"The first name that came to me was Byron Bay Tea Company, then I sort of got into this creative head-space and started thinking of all these cute, creative names. One was a cute Japanesy name that meant nothing. And I did the full circle and came back to the start," Merlo says.
"It's such an obvious name that I resisted it because I thought it was unoriginal. But I think when it's a product, it's good to communicate what it actually is and not make it too difficult for the consumer."
Merlo says the name of her home-town also reflects the qualities of her brand.
"Byron Bay does have a connotation in people's minds of it being healthy and good for you, and Byron Bay tends to breed something that may be a bit different to the conventional products we're used to seeing."
10 NAMING TIPS
1. Make it unique
2. Give it authentic meaning or a story
3. Keep it simple
4. Make it easy to remember
5. It should make sense and give clues to what your business does
6. Don't make it hard to spell or pronounce
7. Check the business name and domain name are available
8. Make sure it doesn't limit the future scope of your business
9. Test it with your target market
10. If you plan to expand, check its meaning in other languages