Choosing an identity is the exciting part of starting up a new business right? Naming a baby probably isn’t much different. You pen a list of names you like or that mean something to you, then mull them over. You do a bit of research, canvass opinion from peers and even pick a colour scheme for where it’ll live: on the web or stationery.

Kill joy

So why have I gone and taken all the fun out of it? By over-analysing my options with assiduous scientific diligence. An approach that serves me well when I’m copywriting, but is near-enough useless in the process of decision-making.

Baby Tamarin and adult Tamarin

Tamarin: my favourite animal but ultimately a meaningless name for a business

Perhaps I’m just twitchy because of what naming a business represents. It signifies more than just a moniker, it’s the foundations of a brand.

Personally, it represents commitment to a new phase of growth but publicly it’s a chance to say something about who you are and what you do best. In only one or two words. And that’s why I’m apprehensive. Suddenly I’m forced to gulp down my own wordy medicine in tiny doses, not the comforting tonic of sizeable sentences.


This week I pulled into the hard shoulder, turned off my engine and let the bee out of my bonnet. With the painful list of ideas safely hidden away we’ve time to reflect upon some helpful advice and suggestions people have kindly offered for picking the right name for a business:

  • Can you live with it a few years down the line? If your name has novelty value, is a bit too vogue or quirky, chances are you’ll grow to hate it. (See Copywriter 2000, Carpets4U or any dry cleaners named Touching Cloth).
  • What does it mean to other people? After all, they’re who you’re selling it to. It’s no good if it’s a private joke or a nickname from school. (Exception being MoonPig).
  • Does it explain what you do? Not a hard and fast rule (e.g Nike, McDonalds), but there’s a lot to be said for slipping your function in there when you’re an unknown small business.
  • What does it sound like when you say it out loud? Brilliant acid-test for copywriting too. Can it be said quickly over the phone, for example.
  • Avoid solutions in the name. Why? BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING. (Unless you sell chemicals).
  • Don’t analyse it too much, it should just come to you: That’s the problem, they keep coming to me.
  • Is it available? Arguably this should be top of the list if you want to purchase the domain name or trademark it.

Show and tell

What criteria, suggestions or inspiration informed the name of your business?