It’s October 2016, and a guy on the TV is shaking his head, looking at his car which is squashed under a fallen tree. “I can’t believe Bob did so much damage!”
Is Bob a new super villain? A nickname for a rogue digger? No, he’s the storm from last night. From 2016 the Met Office will name UK storms. The reason? “We have seen how naming storms elsewhere in the world raises awareness of severe weather before it strikes.” They’re right. A name helps. Hurricane Katrina has more resonance than the Great Storm of 1986. Or was it 87?
If you’re thinking about starting a business or renaming yours, here are some pointers. Including what I’ve learnt as Ink Gardener.
Take your time
A business name is like a tattoo. Hopefully you’re going to have it for a long time so don’t rush. Initially I was going to call my copywriting business ‘Cut The Carp’. But then I started thinking it sounded a little negative. I was going to offer more than editing. And the idea of a gormless fish as my business identity was less than appealing.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery
Haven’t a clue? Take a look at magazine ads or browse the web, and not just your competitors. Collected some business cards? See what stands out. Then write down the names that appeal to you. You’ll soon start to see a pattern.
Ronseal or creative?
The Ronseal route of “doing exactly what it says on the tin” can be great. If you have a distinctive first and second name, it can be ideal if you offer a service. However make sure you add a description of what you do – so for example Kirsty Bortoft Coaching.
For me, Ink Gardener has been a double-edged sword. At events people often assumed I was a gardener so I’ve taken to adding Copywriting at the end of my business name. But explaining what I do in terms of gardening has been a real winner. My ideal customer is often unaware of what ‘copywriting’ is. But they’re intrigued by the name and it’s a good conversation opener.
It also gives me scope to expand. Ink Gardener’s Question Time? Ink Gardener’s World? The possibilities are endless…
Talk it through
After giving a talk about Twitter, I was discussing something with Scarborough-based lean business consultant Laura Cotter. At that point she was from Business Streamlined Ltd. As I scribbled ‘@bs’ on the whiteboard, we both burst out laughing. BS are not good initials given their connotations of cow manure.
The following week Laura sent me this on LinkedIn:
She is one smart cookie.
I recently met Kathryn Barnes from Stockton-on-Tees’ Book Keeping Counts. It’s such a simple but clever name that I asked her how she came up with it. “Oh, I put up some ideas on my Facebook page and asked people to tell me which one they liked!” How do I know it’s clever? I just typed it into Google without having to check her business card.
Cover all the bases
Come up with something? Great. Now you need to check it’s available. In days gone by you’d have a shop sign, maybe a business card and an ad in the Yellow Pages. In the 21st century the name needs to work online too.
Has it been taken on the web?
Of course you can type ‘www.yourawesomebiz.co.uk’ into your internet address bar and see if it’s been taken. But I recommend searching the neutral Whois lookup site which lists what might be coming up for grabs soon. You can use URL sign-up places, but it has been known that when you return to buy it, the price goes up or it’s been nabbed by someone else.
I would also check out buying the ‘.com’ address as well as ‘.co.uk’. You don’t want people clicking through to your doppleganger in Texas. There’s more about URLs on my article three questions you must ask your web designer.
Is it still free on social media?
Will the name work on Facebook, Twitter maybe even Pinterest and Instagram? You don’t have to sign up to search. For Twitter, type in www.twitter.com and then the name such as www.twitter.com/inkgardener . Or use the search in the top right-hand corner of my Twitter page.
Consistency isn’t vital but try to at least have one relevant core word. For example for Caroline from Pet Education and Training we settled on the Twitter account ‘petexpertUK’.
Is it legal?
Check out Start Up Donut’s excellent article Choosing a business name FAQs for what else you need to be aware of.
Need a fresh pair of eyes?
If you’re stuck for inspiration, I’d be happy to help. Please get in touch.
P.S. So what would you call a storm? Twitter’s responses to the Met Office storm name request are very funny. Personally I’m rooting for Storm In A Teacup.
About the author: Ink Gardener
Want a friendly, no-nonsense approach? I’m a freelance copywriter with more than 17 years’ experience. I love words and hate jargon. I work with businesses and the public sector to attract new audiences and customers. I am passionate about clear communication, whether it’s a tweet, leaflet or sent by carrier pigeon. I really enjoy encouraging businesses to make the most of 21st century technology. I’m based near York in the UK but have clients nationwide.
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