One of the most fun, if not slightly intimidating, aspects of starting a business is naming it. After all, your business name speaks to who you are as a brand and attracts new customers, if it's appealing enough.
It's not something to take lightly. A business name will be with you as long as you run your company. It's kind of like with a kid: You wouldn't change her name three years in just because you decided you didn't like it anymore, right?
Use these errors as cautionary tales when naming your company.
1. It's Too Cutesy
In the 1980s, there was a rash of misspelled business names, such as The Kutting Krew. It's not cute, folks (or rather, it's not kute), so don't do it. Unless you're selling baby booties, your business name should not be silly.
2. It's Hard to Pronounce (or Spell)
The cornerstone of a memorable business name is that it's easy to say and spell. Don't make people guess how to pronounce your business. Save that for your kids' names.
3. It's Loooong!
Imagine answering the phone with your entire business name. Law offices are terribly guilty of the long name. Take a look at Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A. I'd hate to have to answer their phones! Lesson here: Keep it short and simple.
4. It's Too Common
Forget the fact that AAA Apparel comes up first in the phone book. Nobody's looking in the phone book for your business! It's too easy to mistake your business for another if it has a common component in the name. So before you buy business cards, search to see who else has a similar business name in your city -- then go the other way.
5. It's Too Personal
I'll give this one a caveat: Having a good story behind your business name can work in your favor. My business is Egg Marketing & Communications. I get asked all the time if we market eggs. We do not. But there's a great story behind the name, so it works as a branding technique.
Still, if your business name is so personal nobody gets it (and nobody asks), you're not helping yourself.
6. It Lacks 'Oomph'
You want people to be dazzled a little by your clever business name, but Sally's Strudel doesn't really do the job. You don't want to be overly sensational, but you do want to capture attention.
7. It's Already Taken
Not only do you not stand out if you duplicate someone else's name, but you also risk legal action against you if the name is already registered. A simple name search will tell you if anyone else is using that name.
Your business name will set the scene for how people perceive your brand, so make sure you spend plenty of time coming up with name ideas. Ask your friends and family for input on your top choices, then pick the one that resonates with everyone. Remember: In the long run, simplicity always wins in the name game.
About the author: Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, a content marketing and social media firm, and has written three business books and blogs about small business on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.