How to Choose Your Business Name, Brand & Identity Wisely

If you find a business you like but you can’t remember it’s name, what do you do? Some of us might do the work of searching the Internet, using a few key words; some might ask around to see if any friends or family know what the heck you’re talking about. Others might even employ that antiquated device, the Yellow Pages (do they still make those?)

That’s a lot of work; all that energy and time expended is only doing one thing: degrading your opinion of the business. It would have been so much easier for you if you could just remember what it was called; you’d get that instant gratification of being able to locate the thing that made you so happy.

This is why naming your business is so important. The name of your business communicates a lot of things: what you do, why you do it, what the “personality” of your business is. At the very basic level, however, the name of your business is mostly important so that your customers can remember who you are. It’s pointless to have a phenomenal product if your name is forgettable.

The name of your business should be simple, catchy and unique. Especially as the world of coffee grows and fans out, you’re not just going to be remembered as “that place that roasts coffee.” There are more and more places that roast coffee; you have to stand out.

Keep it simple. Nothing makes a name more forgettable if it is unpronounceable. You remember the words you can say and spell much more easily than the ones that might as well be a foreign language (and not a catchy one, like Chipotle).

Keep it simple, keep it short. In my opinion, there’s a reason the whole world has heard of Starbucks and only a fraction of those people have heard of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Of course, Starbucks did it first, so they got the monopoly; but, their name is simple. It’s catchy, it’s easy to remember because it combines two short words almost anyone can remember. It’s not six words that’s essentially just an explanation of the products the business sells. The name should draw people in; save the longer stuff for your tagline once people are paying attention. You can get away with longer names, but remember that we live in an age with a rapidly decreasing attention span. I got bored just typing The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf the first time, and mildly annoyed at having to type it for a second time. A customer scrolling through location suggestions on their phone are going to lose interest three words in and move on to something that doesn’t bore or confuse them. Too long of a name makes it seem like you’re trying too hard; and, while that can appeal to hipsters and coffee elitists, if you want to make a splash in the economy, you need simplicity.

What the actual name is is up to you. You can name it after yourself or a loved one; you can name it after your favorite Greek god or goddess. You can choose a name that represents your business goals or that’s just plain quirky. It’s all up to you. When deciding, experts agree that you should keep input to a minimum. Of course, working with a team makes things a lot easier; more heads are better than one, right? The problem with bringing in too many people is that someone may get their feelings hurt if their idea isn’t chosen, and choosing based on consensus can result in boring, run-of-the-mill names that suits everyone.

You also want to shy away from anything too generic or clinical. Some experts call this  the “trainwreck” method; splicing together two words like coffee and roasting, for example, to form CofRoast. It can seem like a cute idea, but it takes away from the personality an original name can give your business, and also comes across as lazy and detached. Those aren’t messages you want to send to a potential client base.

Keep it simple, but make it stand out. This is why working with fewer people on the name can be a good strategy; you’re more likely to come up with something truly unique. You want a name that pops out. Don’t be afraid to opt for something off-the-wall and quirky, as long as it dances off the tongue and glues itself to the memory. One idea is to toss some name ideas around at one meeting and then see which ones you (and your small team) remember at the next one.

Unique and quirky are necessary so you avoid generic and cliche. This also comes off as lazy. Though there is a trend out there for naming something in a super straightforward way, like, for instance, naming your coffee roastery, The Coffee Roastery. It’s short, it’s memorable, it tells the world what you do, and it’s a fun little play on the naming process. It’s totally meta, as the kids like to say.

Remember, too, that it can be dangerous to be too specific. If you name your business after the city you originate in, you’ll face some issues if you ever want to expand (which, why wouldn’t you want to expand?). And if you name your business The Coffee Roastery, but also expand to become a coffee shop, bakery, and merchandise business, you could run into some issues, as well.

Naming your business with a person’s name is something to consider, because it gives your customers a personable connection to your brand. They associate a human being, they form an image in their mind of the person (whether it be you or your daughter, like Wendy’s) and that creates an emotional connection that enhances memory.

Your brand is what sells your product and keeps on selling it. It is what catches people’s attention, brings them in, helps them remember you and sell you to their friends and families. Make sure it’s memorable and unique enough to do all the work for your business that a good brand name is supposed to. When people begin to associate your stellar product with your fantastic name, you’ll become a reliable household name like Campbells, or something synonymous with its product, like Kleenex.

Look at what the experts say about the psychology of branding. Everything from your name, to your font choice, to the colors you choose will have an effect on how people respond to, and remember, your brand.

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9 Comments

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  1. What an interesting article. I really enjoyed reading it. 😀
    I completely agree with the fact that a brand name should be simple and catchy, so it will be memorable for everyone. I often had trouble remembering some of the coffee shops, because their brand name was way too ordinary and easy to forget, but their coffee was out of this world so I had a lot of trouble finding that coffee shop once again. When I managed to find that coffee shop I actually took a picture of the brand name so I wouldn’t forget it again. 😀

    • Same here Tina… I too enjoyed reading this article! I agree that the brand name should be simple and impressive so that it can attract the customers. This is true that we as customers always get attracted to the names which somehow relate us… It usually happens with me that I
      forget names of the coffee shops where I enjoyed a lot… and this is only because of the ordinary and common brand names which are hard to remember!

  2. Naming a business is pretty much the same as naming a baby. The name carries weight: the weight of your expectations, the weight of your dreams, and the weight of your desire to make the baby stand out with a unique name. Of course, down the line, a poorly made name can bring inconvenience to your baby, be it in the form of having a hard time to actually write the name or being made fun of by being too weird. Naming really needs a lot of forward thinking.

  3. Happens to me most of the time. There’s this place whether it’s coffee shop or a restaurant, which I really like to come back but can’t remember the name. What I do is, of course, turn into the internet and let it find it for me. As for naming your business, I think it’s something wherein some people are good at. I don’t know… because I suck in thinking of titles, names, etc. Anyways, what a good blog to read.

  4. Naming your business is challenging. It must be unique so it can catch the attention of the people. It took me days or weeks when I was planning for the name of my online shop. I searched the net so that there would be no duplicate. What this article says about to “keep it simple, but make it stand out” is really true! I hope many people will be able to read this especially those who are planning to build their own business.

  5. “A tree is known by its fruit”.
    I highly recommend naming a business with a person’s name, I found it intimate.
    We can’t remember strange names so It would be wise to keep it simple and short.

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