What’s in a name?
Well, if you’re starting your own business, it could spell the difference between success and failure. Intuit co-founders Scott Cook and Tom Proulx toyed with “Instincts” as an early possibility, but scrapped that idea after realizing it sounded too much like “It stinks.” Intuit, on the other hand, conveyed the overarching goal of making software so easy to use that it required almost no thought. Their instincts proved right.
My friend Brian is going through the same naming ritual as he launches a gourmet, “glorified grilled cheese” food truck in the Bay Area called Melts My Heart. I’ve followed his entrepreneurial journey on Facebook and it got me wondering: How do entrepreneurs choose a business name and where do they get their inspiration?
I chatted with a few small business owners and asked them to share their stories and advice for choosing a small business name.
Pauline Lewis owns oovoo design, a company that makes hand-embroidered bags for women, by women. Pauline works with a women’s cooperative in Vietnam and she wanted to reflect female elements in the business name.
She started with “ovo,” the Latin word for “the female egg.” She then added a few extra “o’s” to represent the embroidery circles that she works with in Vietnam. As a plus, Pauline’s graphic designer thought the name lent itself to lots of interesting visuals too.
- Tip: Have fun brainstorming names with many people. You never know when it might spark an idea or inspiration. Intuit patriarchs Scott and Tom shared their adventure to name the company’s first product, Quicken.
- Tip: Pauline also recommends choosing a name that allows for company growth. For example, if you think your cupcake business might expand to other desserts, choose a name that is not limiting.
The BeautyBean.com focuses on inner beauty and health, and owner Alexis Wolfer wanted a business name that reflected both. The free online magazine and weekly email newsletter covers a variety of topics designed to help women pamper, nourish and beautify.
- Tip: Alexis likes the alliteration in her business name, but cautions fellow entrepreneurs to think about ease. She often finds that she has to spell out her business name such as “B as in boy, N as in Nancy.”
Testing, transparency and trademark are also important factors when naming a business, according to Intuit’s Eric Carlock. He is a senior marketing manager in the company’s small business group and stresses the importance of testing the business name with multiple audiences. What emotions does the name evoke? Be transparent. Does the name reflect or describe the key benefits of your business? And most important, check with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to ensure the availability of the name.
Now back to grilled cheese. If you’re wondering how Brian named his food truck business, well, his wife simply blurted it out and the name stuck.
Have a great tip or a fun story behind naming your own small business? Share it here!