Choosing a name for your business

When taking a leisurely drive, I will take note of the business names in that area. Some names are just too funny they leave many tickled.  I often wonder what the name means. A few of them are combos. Quite often, the wife and husband use their names and coin a business name. For example, a business named Danme could represent Daniel and Mercy. Other business owners throw in their children’s name.  Many others combine the names of the business partners.  Some business names represent a place or the desired character while others are abstract with no definite meaning. What name have you chosen for your business and why that name?

Do you know for example, that in 1996, the Google founders used the nickname Backrub to represent their search engine? According to many sources, the origin of Google was googol. A googol is a large number written as one followed by one hundred zeros. The founders of Google Sergey Brin and Larry Page had every intention to develop a search engine that would be able to generate lots of information and that they have achieved. Today, Google is not only a business name but also a verb. Bill Gates and Paul G. Allen the founders of Microsoft derived the name from microcomputer and software. A fruit that Steve Jobs loved inspired the name Apple.  Everyone in business has a story to tell about his or her business name. What inspired your business name?

Some business names are registered while others are not. I wonder whether some interesting names such as “To Go Is To See Bar and Restaurant” or “Walkabout Bar and Restaurant” are registered. Maybe yes, maybe no. If you have registered a business in Kenya, you may be aware that choice of name is always the first step.  The business owner has to choose the preferred names. The 3-5 preferred names are given to the registrar of companies for a search and reservation. The name has to meet some minimum requirements before being reserved. For example, the name should not be identical to an already reserved name or an already registered business or have a close phonetic resemblance. In addition, the name should not be offensive, should not suggest association or patronage to the state, to a county or foreign government and should not include a registered trademark. For many in business, the process of name selection is one done with little thought or after lots of contemplation.

In the marketplace, a name is important as it is used to position the business. The name appears at all office locations, on all official documents and in all marketing communications materials. Choosing the right name for your business is therefore crucial. A business can change its name. This can be voluntarily or the business may be forced to change its name. Are you happy with your current business name? Is it catchy? Does it sound good? Does it convey some meaning? Are your customers and other stakeholders happy with the name? Is the name creating the desired impression? Remember it is better to spend time thinking through your business name than going through a name change later.

Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy

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