What’s in a business name?

birdonawireWandering along the street to meet a dear friend for coffee, I spied this sign. “Bird on a Wire”. Intrigued, I stopped and peered inside the closed shop.

Rotisserie chicken can be a dull thing. A roast bird cooked and prepared for an easy pick up, to be quickly enjoyed when you get home, or for your next picnic. Yet suddenly, this pedestrian take away sprung to life with a personality, a touch of humour and memorability. Bird on a wire is a brilliant name. It says exactly what is being sold, it has a quirkiness to it, and had made the dull memorable.

Our names define us. Over many years of our life, we become attached to what people call us, what we think it means about us, how we are presented to the world..and of course, on our grave stone when we leave the world. Our name becomes the one defining piece of who we are.

Choosing a name for our new business is significant. Not only will the name define the business, and what we want to create, but it will also determine who will be attracted to it. These factors will all play in our success.

That’s a lot of pressure on a random collection of letters and symbols!

Many of my clients who are embarking on their business start up journey agonise over their new business name. “What will people think?”, ‘what if I get it wrong?”.

To help you in your business start up journey, here are my top tips for choosing names for your new business:

Do you love it?

This will be the face of your business…you will be saying this name thousands of times every year. Do YOU love it? Does it make you smile or cringe? If it’s the latter, start over….

Does it say what you do?

Bird on a wire is a fancy way of explaining a rotisserie chicken, but that is what it does. Often we can be very inventive with names, (remember the launch of Orange?) and they work, if you have a large marketing budget to educate your target market. If you don’t have a large budget stick with something obvious.

Would your ideal prospect ‘get’ it and love it?

Before you commit, do some testing with your target market. Do they understand the idea you are trying to portray, do they like it  and does it seem new and fresh to them?

Is the name big enough to expand as your business grows and offers new services?

As we grow into our business, and start to understand the market and our customers more, new ideas for revenue opportunities arise. Ensure your name has the ability to be able to capture the new offerings under its umbrella.

Is anyone else using it?

Companies House, (Or your own country’s equivalent) will list every registered company. So before you invest in logo design, domain names etc, do a quick check to make sure you are legally free to use it.

Can you find the domain name (url) for your website?

This is so important! As soon as you create a great name – check if you can buy the domain name.

Can you trademark it?

If you are creating services or products that have the potential to be licensed, easily copied, or turned into a verb (eg. Google = Company name and a verb) then apply for a trademark registration. This is easy to do online and will only cost around £400.

Do you need to check what it means in other languages….just in case?

An innocent sounding name in our own language can be misinterpreted in another culture…always worth doing a quick check – try Google Translate


I would love to know what names you are considering – let me know below and we can share our thoughts….


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