by Julie Ellis at

Deciding on a name for your new business should take at least as much time as some people take to name their first-born!

And we’re no longer in the age of letting our “fingers do the walking” through the Yellow Pages. In those days, businesses that could not afford a huge add in that yellow book all scrambled to put “AAA,” “AA” or “A” in front of their names, so they would be first on the page in their categories.

That’s not how you will be found today, and search engine rankings are based upon so many other things. What you need is a unique name that “brands” you and lets customers know quickly what you are all about. So here is what NOT to do as you name your “baby.”

1. “Too many cooks spoil the soup” is an old adage that is just timeless. The more people involved in name selection, the more complex the process will become. And if you have to be a “pleaser,” you’ll end up with a name that is either too plain or so “way out there,” that it really is silly or not reflective of what you do! Find one or two people who are both smart and creative with whom to collaborate.

2. Using a family or a really vanilla name is a “no-no.” Everyone wants to have a family legacy, and if your only goal is a local and regional presence (and your name is known in the community), this may be fine. But if you plan to grow on the web and elsewhere, your family name isn’t very exciting. Plus, you’ll have to spend huge amounts on advertising. Lowe’s is a family name, but how much did they have to spend to get that name a nationally recognized one? Millions! Here’s a combination of family and plain – Jones Farming Supplies. How catchy is that to a national audience?

3. Avoid Truncations: Truncated words are attempts to combine two words into one great business name. Unfortunately, they often sound silly and are really overused in today’s markets. “Ameriplumb” may have a catchy ring to you, but I can guarantee you it’s already taken and, with such overuse of such truncations in the past, it’s not appealing!

4. Don’t Limit Yourself Geographically: If you put your location in your business name, you will lose potential customers, even though you are marketing to a national audience. “St. Louis Flooring” indicates that you are local and/or regional, even though you may ship anywhere! People conducting online searches will skip over you, unless they are searching specifically for a brick and mortar store in the St. Louis area.

5. Avoid overused words. We are past the whole “AAA” thing, but we are certainly not beyond using “tired” words. At one time, the word “depot” was really valuable – thus we have “Home Depot,” “Office Depot,” etc. And this word is probably already taken in your business – “Book Depot,” “Flooring Depot,” etc. already exist! Try to use metaphors instead that help people know what you offer. I often think of the name “Silkience” as a brand name for hair products or “Body Armor” as a name for a line of deodorants – these are good metaphors!

6. Don’t use obscure names or unusual spellings: This only makes it harder for people to find you. At one point I was on the Board of Directors of a private school in its beginning stages. It had a direct name that ended with “Academy,” and it was obvious what its business was. Before making the final decision, however, one board member brought in a PR friend who came up with a Greek name that everyone (but me) thought was just delightful. The problem was, who could pronounce it, much less spell it? And if you can’t at least spell it, how do you find its website? Thank you Google for helping out in this department a bit, but it is still a problem!

7. Don’t “piggyback” on an already taken name by changing out a spelling or a word. And absolutely, in picking a domain name, do not just change the suffix to .net because someone already has .com. People don’t like this when they are trying to access a specific URL!
You may love the business name you now have, but, if, over time, you are not generating growth, you name may be one of the things to look at. Don’t be afraid to change your name, so long as you let existing customers know several times in the early months of the change!

Author’s bio: Julie Ellis believes that, only through experiential knowledge does one become an engaging and creative writer. Her degree in Journalism and a host of real-world study and experience has made her a permanent and popular blogger for