Africa Entrepreneurs’ Corner with Tarsicius Edem Dorpenyo: What’s in a name? Ten (10) things to note when selecting a business name


In the first part of this epistle, it was established that a business name is more than just a label or a superficial nomenclature that does not define the true essence or value of the business. On the contrary, the business name incorporates the brand identity, first impression, differentiation, marketing and communication, legality, customer perception, professionalism, and credibility. Therefore, you must choose your business name with caution and deliberateness. In this piece, I’ve highlighted ten (10) things to consider when selecting a business name.

There are several important factors to consider when selecting a business name. Consider the following factors to ensure you choose a name that is consistent with your brand and appealing to your target audience:

  1. Target market

The term ‘target market’ refers to a specific group of people or businesses to whom a company intends to sell its goods or services. A target market is determined by taking into account a variety of factors, such as demographic characteristics – age, gender, income, education; psychographic traits –values, interests, lifestyles; geographic location, and purchasing behaviour.

The name of your company should be guided by the nature of your target market. Names appeal to various age groups, genders, income brackets, geographical locations and religious groups. A name like ‘YOLO Bar’ is more likely to appeal to young people than to older people.

  1. Brand identity

The way a company presents itself to the world and how its target audience perceives it is referred to as brand identity. A strong brand identity sets a company apart from its competitors and encourages customer recognition, trust and loyalty.

Your company name should reflect your brand’s identity and core values. Consider your message, the emotions you want to elicit, and the image you want to project to customers before selecting a name. A name like ‘Mother Care Day Care’ would portray the school more positively and attract more parents than ‘Nanny Care Day Care’.  They don’t have the same ambience.

  1. Relevance and descriptiveness

Choosing a descriptive business name can be a wise strategy because it immediately communicates what your company is about or what products/services it provides. Make a list of keywords or phrases related to your company, industry or the products/services you offer. Using the keywords you brainstormed, combine and create new words or phrases.

Consider the words that best describe your company and what potential customers may look for when looking for businesses like yours. It should provide customers with an idea of what your company offers or stands for. While a completely descriptive name is not always required, it should be suggestive of your company. Remember that while a descriptive business name can be effective, it is not the only option. Some successful businesses have chosen names that are unusual, abstract or invented; for example, Google.

  1. Memorable and catchy

A memorable name is more likely to be remembered by customers when they require your products or services. Aim for a name that is memorable, distinct, and stands out from the crowd. It could be through wordplay, alliteration, or a unique word combination. Shorter names are generally easier to remember and pronounce. Aim for a short and easy-to-remember name, preferably one or two words.

  1. Easy to pronounce and spell

A name that easily rolls off the tongue is more likely to be remembered. Avoid complicated or ambiguous spellings that may cause confusion. Here’s an example of a simple business name: ‘Lumivo’. ‘Lumivo’ is a made-up name that combines light and vibrancy. It has a pleasant and melodic sound and is simple to pronounce. The name is short and memorable, and it can be used in a variety of industries such as technology, design or lifestyle.

  1. Scalability and longevity

While it may be tempting to select a name that reflects your current product or service offering, keep in mind that your company may grow or change over time. Choosing a name that is too specific or tied to a specific product can limit your future options. Choose a name that can accommodate potential changes in your offerings, target market or geographical reach. Hunt for names with broader meanings or associations than your current offerings.

For example, Apple began as a computer company, but has since expanded into a variety of other product categories. Also, avoid trendy or time-sensitive terms. They may appear appealing at the time, but they can quickly become obsolete or irrelevant.

  1. Trademark availability

Do extensive research before settling on a name to ensure it is not already trademarked or in use by another company. Check your country or region’s trademark databases to see if the name is available. Having your company name registered as a trademark provides legal protection and prevents others in your industry from using a similar name.

  1. Domain and social media availability

Having a consistent online presence is critical in today’s digital landscape. Examine the availability of domain names that are related to your chosen name. It should be simple to remember and preferably end in .com. Consider the availability of social media handles associated with the name as well in order to maintain brand consistency across platforms.

  1. Cultural and language considerations

If you intend to operate in international markets or have a diverse customer base, make certain that the name has no negative or unintended meanings in other languages or cultures. Conduct research to avoid cultural misunderstandings or offensive connotations. Choose a name that is simple to pronounce and culturally adaptable across languages and regions. This will aid in the avoidance of language barriers and the smooth transition into new markets.

  1. Feedback and testing

Collect feedback from trusted friends, colleagues or members of the target audience. Surveys or focus groups can be used to assess the name’s effectiveness and appeal. Consider the feedback and make any necessary changes. Choosing the right business name is an investment in your brand’s identity and long-term success. Take your time, weigh your options, and make sure that the name you choose is consistent with your brand, resonates with your target audience, and sets you apart in the market.

Stay positive, for no one knows enough to be a pessimist.

>>>Tarsicius Edem Dorpenyo is an entrepreneur, marketer, TV/Radio show host, events coordinator and author (Small Business Bible). He is a thought leader in entrepreneurship, small business marketing, tourism marketing, and digital marketing. You may contact the author by phone (+233 248 426 235), via email address:  [email protected] or on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Leave a Reply