How to choose a Creative Australian Business Name
Firstly, Congratulations! Starting a business is an exciting time! It can feel overwhelming trying to decide on a business name. It’s like naming a child. It’s best to keep your cards close. Too many opinions can ruin a good idea.
Think of your business name as your brand. It is the first thing people see/hear and it needs to evoke emotions. It needs to be considered and researched.
People tend to gravitate towards these four popular categories:
- Your Name
- Play of industry words
- Target market
There is no right or wrong but make it an informed decision. A name that you won’t regret, will grow with you and won’t date. A name can limit your opportunities as a business. It needs to grow with you. Don’t stress if you already have a name and it sucks. You can rebrand!
A name can be powerful. It can make you SEEM more successful than you are. You can be strategic and choose
…a title that starts with the letter ‘A’ – you will be on the top of directory listings!
Assuming you known your target market and have given thought to where you fit into your market (ie: high-end boutique or budget). Here are examples of the four popular categories people use when deciding on which business name to choose:
I’m going to use a hairdressing salon as examples:
- NAME: Sharee’s Hairdressing or Toni & Guy
- PLAY ON WORDS: Jack the Snipper (Byron Bay)
- ACRONYM: H2B – Hair to Beauty (Currumbin)
- TARGET MARKET: Price Attack
1. Sharee’s Hairdressing is specific to Sharee. It may be considered ‘low rent’. Toni & Guy doesn’t include the service (Salon / Hairdressing) and has a built a high-end brand. It is instantly recognisable. Photographers are guilty of using their first and last name followed by ‘Photography’.
2. Jack the Snipper is a barber in Byron Bay. The name is quirky and memorable. Using names like Jack or Jim (Jim’s Mowing) aren’t specific enough to be limiting. Surf brands use this technique well: Billabong, Piping Hot, Rip Curl, Surf Stitch and Seafolly
3. There are many established brands who successfully using acronyms: ADIDAS, ABC, ING. When considering an acronym do a few Google searches and pretend you are the client. What comes up? Acronym’s can often be confused with medical terms, a university or multiple other small business names. This ‘mish-mash’ of various results is exactly what you don’t want when someone is looking for you. If you don’t have any defining terms in your name, clients might not know what you do ie: H2B means nothing unless it’s typed out “Hair 2 Beauty”
4. This one is pretty obvious. Price Attack. Their name directly responds to their target market -people looking for the best price. Their business model is based on volume transactions. Many online businesses use this business model – charge a small amount x sell high volumes. In both instances brands have a variety of target markets. You can still sell something for a low price = high volume and target a high-end client.
Let’s delve into the most popular method. Using your name as your business name.
I give the same advice as I would when you are choosing a child’s name. If you decide on a name spelt alternatively – it’s cool and unique – but guess what? That child will spend their ENTIRE life explaining how it’s pronounced or spelt EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. In business you want people to be focused on your product and services… not your name.
You don’t want to be boring either. It needs to be a reflection of you or your branding.
If you are an artist, your name (or stage name) can be incredibly powerful. You have built your brand and you should seriously consider utilising the exposure. Consider something easy to pronounce and spell. Nothing worse than trying to Google someone and you can’t find them!
A dear friend of mine is an artist and has built a brand from his stage name since the eighties. He eventually changed it legally! I actually don’t know his real name – I should probably ask ;P The point is I have been in a different state and mentioned his FIRST name only and people remember him from 20 years ago. His name is Suede. This obviously won’t work for Sarah’s or Jessica’s.
Byron Bay local brand Arhnem is a great example. It is the founder’s actual name. Even if this wasn’t a personal name it would make a fantastic business name as it hold’s meaning and evokes emotion. The name represents the brand identity of mother nature. Colours and patterns inspired by the land.
You might find your brand evolves and so does your name. Think of famous people who dropped their surname: Madonna, Brittany, Cher, Beyonce
Or local brand Spell and the Gypsy Collective who evolved quickly to just Spell across the majority of their branding. You might think it was a gypsy-witch inspired name but it’s actually the childhood nickname of founder Isabella.
When considering using your name I encourage you to think about the future. If you bring people on board will your clients be happy? Will they be expecting YOU? Are you able to expand the brand. Branch out into other services, industries, stay dynamic or franchise?
There are successful stories from both sides of the coin. Some major brands who were built from the name of one person:
Jim’s Mowing, Alex Perry, Samantha Willis, Michael Hill
Note that these brands have dropped their ‘services’? As your business grows, being held down by a specific service will limit you.
In the photography industry it is really common for people to use their first & last name accompanied with ‘Photography’. Although this can be powerful it can be limiting.
I will give you a real-world example. When I was first choosing a name for ‘Lady Bella’ I only offered makeup artistry. It was my creative outlet. I didn’t have major plans for it being a ‘brand’ it was something to do as a bored new mother. Just about everyone suggested I call the business ‘Sarah-Jane’s Makeup Artistry’. Even though I had no major plans I did want to give myself the option to grow. I never imagined where Lady Bella would take me or how it would evolve.
I wrote down pages of ideas. Word’s that evoked emotion, industry related words, trendy words (FIERCE was huge at the time) and thought about my target market. I knew the business was targeted to women but I didn’t want the name to be limiting such as ‘girl’ or ‘madame’ or ‘princess’. I decided on ‘Lady’ as it was ageless. I then chose ‘Bella’ for personal reasons. My Mother is Italian and Bella means Beautiful, Beautiful Lady. It was classy, spoke to my ideal client and wasn’t restrictive with a particular ‘service’. Fast forward 6 years and we have evolved countless times and now specialise in Wedding Photography with a team of professionals… and the name made it easy to evolve. Imagine if I had chosen “Sarah-Jane’s Makeup Artistry’!?
When the time came to expand and launch a commercial website it was easy. I did research and chose Tiffany Blue for specific reasons. We chose to continue the ‘BELLA’ branding so my community recognised the trusted brand. Trust is the key word here. We played around with different descriptive words that would highlight what we actually DO. This of course helps with Google rankings.
I want you to write down a list of emotive words, industry words and things you like. Then you are going to play with them. Get some input from people who are your target market.
When asking people, make sure they have your best interests at heart. Ask other business owners in any field for a fresh perspective.
Now you have a shortlist of name’s you need to check they are available! Check the ABN search here. Then check social media. If someone else has the same or similar business Facebook page, don’t stress it can still work. BUT DON’T and I mean DON’T choose a name that is similar to someone operating near you! You can’t piggy-back off someone else, it’s unethical and I PROMISE it will cause you more heart ache than it’s worth (for both of you).
Now you have up to 3 shortlist names that you love, you have positive feedback and they are available – YAY.
Now I want you to write it down it the format of a website name and hashtag. All mushed together. Make sure you don’t end up with “ANALBUMPARTY”! Now do a few Google searches and check if any porn sites come up. Misspell the name a few times and see what comes up. There was a porn site similar to ‘Lady Bella’ at one stage – I had a few awkward conversations with brides! haha.
I hope this article helped break down what can feel overwhelming.
Write a comment below with your business name ideas and we will give you feedback!