Name Your Business!
by Tash Hughes of
exciting to make the decision to start your own
business. You’ve chosen which skills you have to market,
where to base the business and even how you’ll structure
the business. And how exciting to not work for a boss,
and to see your name on the door!
But, wait, what
name is going to be on the door? What are you going to
call your new venture?
There are, of
course, some legal aspects to naming your business.
If you choose
to name your business with your own name, then you can
do so without any further regulations. Adding anything
to your name, such as Mary Jackson’s Plumbing, or
choosing a different title will require you to register
the business name.
other than a company must register within the state or
territory it operates in; companies must register with
the Australian Securities and
Investment Commission (ASIC.)
The fees for
registering a business name vary between states, with
$77 in Victoria being the cheapest. To register your
business name, you will need to contact the appropriate
office in your state or territory – a list of these
contacts is available at
business is probably as hard and nerve wrecking as
naming your children. You will consider a number of
possibilities, weigh up different factors and use
personal choice; if you’re lucky, this won’t take much
time, but it may take weeks or months for some people.
your business name is part of the initial impression
your business makes on people, so it is worth taking
care in the choice. Business names can be changed, but
this is often a costly, time consuming process and may
lose existing clients.
Have some fun
brainstorming ideas and researching other business
names; be creative and unique, then use the guidelines
below to narrow your choice down to the perfect name for
If at all
possible, some market research into the name can help;
market research can be as simple as asking friends and
target clients what they think, or it could involve a
market research company or some study or marketing
Availability – you can not use a name that
is already in use as a business name. There is a free
database of business and company names at
http://www.search.asic.gov.au/gns001.html and via
most state business departments. Check your name ideas
before applying as you will not be granted the name if
it’s in use.
Unique. You want your
business to stand out, so don’t choose a name that is
similar to your competitor’s; if you have competitors
called ‘Pen Shop’ and ‘Pencil Stall’, try something like
Drawing Tools. In terms of registering your business
name, some closely related name choices will also be
Trade mark. Ensure that
your name doesn’t use anything protected by a trade
mark. Details of existing trademarks and on registering
your own can be found at
Relevance. Whilst a
business name doesn’t have to include the products or
services to be successful, good business names often do;
make sure that the name doesn’t mislead people, though.
For instance, if you wanted to buy a saddle would you
choose ‘Saddlery Australia’ or ‘Leather Seats’?
you’re selling cute objects to little girls, a cutesy
name will work well; that same name isn’t so effective
for a professional working as a consultant.
Attention. The more
interesting and attention grabbing the name, the better
but only within the boundaries of appropriateness.
Length. As a general
rule, shorter names work better; short is usually easier
to remember and this becomes even more important if the
business name is also the domain name. If your business
name has more than three words, it may be worth looking
for alternatives. Some longer names are catchy or
obvious enough that they can work better than an
uninspired short one.
Internet Presence. Even
if you don’t expect to get a web site for some time,
this is still an issue worth considering. The best
domain names is your business name, so it is worth
choosing a business name that will work as a domain
name, too; you can check to see if the domain name is
available to choose between names, too.
Spelling. Whilst words
like “Olde”, “Kottage”, “Citi” and “Arte” may look cute
or interesting, there is a risk that people will
misspell them frequently. Misspellings may lose you
clients through directories, web searches and
your location in the name can be useful for localised
businesses such as Fremantle Markets or a regional
business like Flinders Ranges Services; it can also
specify you as an Australian company if that is a
selling point for you.
very common for Australians to abbreviate names, so look
carefully at the name and consider possible
abbreviations. If the abbreviations are unsuitable, try
small modifications to fix it. It’s best to name your
business with full words unless the acronym will mean
something to potential clients; the Australian Tax
Office was called the ATO long before they used it
themselves as a domain name.
Starting a new business, you may have a limited range of
products or services to offer. Look ahead and think
about what you want to offer in the longer term and
allow for that expansion in choosing a name; ‘Outfits by
Lisa’ has a longer term feel than ‘Skirts by Lisa.’
Trendy. Like other
things, business names have fashions or trends; copying
the latest naming trend may leave your business looking
out-of-date in a few years time so avoid ‘products R us’
sure the name can be easily said and understood.
Alphabet. A number of
businesses add one or more ‘As’ to their name in an
attempt to be listed first in directories. However,
adding ‘As’ for no other purpose looks like an
advertising ploy and will alienate as many clients as it
gathers. Good marketing and service is more valuable
than being listed early in a directory.
Logo and tag line. If
you already have a logo, make sure the name works with
it; if not, keep in mind that a logo and tag line will
need to be fitted to the name.
Tash Hughes is
the owner of
Word Constructions, a professional writing service, and assists businesses
in preparing all written documentation and web site
content. Tash also writes parenting and business articles for
inclusion in newsletter and web sites.