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What’s in a name? If “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, I’m not so sure the same can be said of a business. When it comes to your brand, being different is important. Fiona McSwein names some answers.

After all, it’s the differences – the quirks, the anomalies – that make your business ‘yours’.

At small business insurance provider Simply Business, we recently launched a nationwide campaign celebrating some of the best names in small business. And with a talent pool of over 425,000 customers to choose from, we weren’t short of choice.

Our not-so-shortlist was eventually whittled down to two equally brilliant names – Spex in the City, a London opticians, and Surelock Homes, a locksmith from Portsmouth.

Memorable, unique, and packed full of personality.

So with this in mind, we wondered… what makes a brilliant business name?

Personality

First and foremost, a business name should be personal. It’s your business, after all.

Customers will see your name long before they’ve bought your product or used your service. And first impressions count.

Take Spex in the City’s owner as an example. There was more than just humour behind the naming of her business, she genuinely loves the show ‘Sex and the City’, and says she’s inspired by its characters.

The name, and business, means something to her, and that’s evident from the moment you step into her shop in Covent Garden.

Your business name should evoke something inside of you – whether that’s a memory, a laugh, a cry… it’s entirely up to you.

But if you don’t feel strongly about your business and its name, how can you expect customers to?

Memorability

Secondly, you’ll want it to be memorable.

From tech startups to hairdressers, competition has never been so high. A memorable name is your stake in the ground.

Of course service, price, and products all play their part, but the value of a great name is without question.

And memorable doesn’t have to mean funny. Memorable can mean whatever you want it to, just as long as it resonates with your target audience. Pick a name that customers warm to and the rest will come a lot easier.

Practicality

But we shouldn’t forget practicality.

Boring? Bear with me.

Now I don’t need to tell you this, but search engines – and your business’s performance on them – will probably play a huge part in how successful you are.

And it’s not just e-commerce businesses that need to keep this in mind. Whether you run a café or a craft shop, it’s essential that customers can find you online. For opening times, for prices, for reviews, if people can’t find you online, you’re going to lose business.

You need a name that you can get near the top of the results, or at least one that doesn’t harm your chances.

Also worth keeping in mind are legal and compliance considerations, and whether anyone else has already registered your favoured name.

Simplicity

There’s a lot to be said of simplicity, and as one of our core values at Simply Business, we could talk about it all day.

But don’t just take our word for it. A study conducted by Princeton University[1] found that, at least in the short-term, stocks with names that are easier to pronounce consistently out-perform those with more confusing monikers. People naturally favour things that are easier to digest.

Keeping your business name simple will let you get key messages across without any clouding.

Validity

We’re also keen users of Build-Measure-Learn, and validating hypothesis with real-life customers is part of our DNA.

If you think you’ve got a great name, prove it. Test it on the people who will be buying your products and see what they think. Or better still, why not make them a part of the process from the beginning?

The difference between thinking you have a great name and knowing you have a great name could be crucial.

Protecting over 1,000 different trade types (from dog walkers to accountants) means we’ve seen our share of memorable names over the years.

We’ve seen how names bring out the best in UK SMEs – their imagination, their inspiration, and their individuality.

So what’s in a name? Actually, more than you might think.

Fiona McSwein is the Chief Marketing and Customer Officer at Simply Business, a leading small business insurer covering over 425,000 SMEs, small businesses, landlords and sole traders across the UK.