Marketing tips: Naming your business

Thinking of a company name?

The recession, and the aftermath of a recession, is boom time for new businesses. Whether it’s people who have been made redundant setting up on their own, people who have spotted a gap in a changing market or just people who fancy a change tougher economic times can be a great benefit; rent/ machinery/ staff costs are all cheaper and there is often less competition.

If you are staring a company you need a good name. Up to about 5 years ago choosing a name was either down to expensive research, or just plain guess work. The internet however has leveled the playing field. Most businesses want to be found in google… but what will people be searching for to find you? To answer this out you need the first thing you need to do is to work out if you are a commodity or a brand.

A commodity…

…is something that people don’t really care who they buy from – essentially you get the same product no matter who you get it from. You may buy a commodity from a branded company, but the brand is not the main reason for your decision. A great example of this is car insurance: YES people do buy from brands, such as Direct Line or Churchill, but they do not buy for the brand – they buy (principally) from the cheapest supplier. If you are setting up in a commodity market like this and don’t have the money to compete with the big brands then you should find a niche within that market and name yourself after that niche – that will both help you get found in google and appear more relevant to your potential customers – a great example of this is The Student Motor Quote Company – They currently have  no.1 and no.2 natural search results in google for “student motor insurance”. It may not be glamorous, but they will get a slice of the insurance pie… if they were just another car insurance brand without the marketing clout of Direct Line, Churchill etc they would get nothing

Tip: To work out what keywords are best to name your company after use the google adwords keyword tool ( to look up how many average monthly searches the keywords get. You then need to compare this with the number of search results you get when you type the keywords into google (see image below, the search gets 1,290,000 results).

You do not want to chose a name that just gets a lot of searches, you need one that also has less competition, for example

‘student motor insurance’ may get 100,000 searches/ month and have 1m competing pages

‘student car insurance’ may get 300,000 searches/ month – you might think this is better as there are 3x as many searches, however if there are 10m competing pages you have more than 3x less chance of making it to the top, ‘student motor insurance’ is a better choice.

A brand…

…is something entirely different and needs building away from the world of internet search, through advertising, word of mouth or myriad other ways. In order to make your brand findable in google you need to have a unique name – The idea is that people find out about that name, then google it and you are at the top. There are different ways of doing this, such as making up words, like Skype, Ebay, Rolex, Starbucks or even google! Another way is to combine or adapt existing, relevant words in a unique combination, such (as a brand we created) Pooch & Mutt, Nespresso, Timberland, Gieves and Hawkes etc. The important thing to remember here is that to be found people need to know about the brand, no one would search Timberland unless they already knew they made footwear.

Pitfall to avoid: You may come up with a name that is unique in your industry, so you think it will stand out online. This may not be the case. ‘Eskimo Shoes’ may sound like a cool name for a shoe shop, or shoe brand focusing on shoes for cold weather, but you are going to be in competition (in terms of competing to get to the of of google) with sites about what shoes Eskimos wear.