Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Choosing a Business Name

This article, all about choosing a business name, was written for us by Magdalena of Cocoa and Heart

Choosing a Business Name

It is natural for us crafters to concentrate on what we know and like doing best – crafting and creating our products.  But if one day your hobby becomes your business, you will need to deal with other aspects of running your business.  That might sound boring and mundane, but it doesn’t have to be. 
If you think about your business as a three legged stool, then skills are one leg and finances and marketing are the other two. If one leg is shorter than the others, your business – like the stool – might be in danger of collapsing and falling over. So, branding is a part of marketing and choosing your logo and business name is a very important part of establishing your business.
If you are choosing a name from scratch think about the following practical checklist:
1.       Do your research – No matter how original you think your name is, the chances are that somebody else has already thought of it. When I was choosing a name for my business, I woke up in the middle of the night and thought of ‘Cinnamon Rose’. I loved it and wanted it, until I ‘Googled’ it and found that others had thought about it first.
2.       Know your market – You need to know who are your potential customers. If your customers are trendy fashion conscious people, then an old-fashioned name will not bring them in (unless it’s ultra cool and vintage…).
3.       Keep it simple – Don’t try to be too clever – if you need to explain to your customers what your name means and how to spell it, then the chances are that they will not remember you. From a practical point of view, if your name becomes a web domain and people won’t be able to type it in correctly, you will lose your customers.
4.       Keep it short – Your name needs to be memorable and should have a strong visual image behind it. If your name is awkward and long people will not remember it. If they can’t immediately picture something behind your name, your name will not stay in their memories.
5.       Make it a positive name – I don’t believe that in our crafting world many people would do this, but it is a good idea to bear in mind that positive images (and names) work better than negative or offensive names, that will deter people immediately.
6.       Finalise your choice – write all your choices down and ask for an opinion. You can try your friends and family, but I would really recommend asking people who don’t know you. They are likely to be more honest…

 There is nothing wrong in using your own name as your brand – in fact most designers do this and if you are successful, people will start recognising your name as the ‘brand’ (think Laura Ashley or Cath Kidson). But, until you get there, the brand of ‘Maureen Table’ will not mean anything to others. That is why some people choose a name that symbolises and describes what they do.

Also think about the name from a business point of view – if your name is ‘Maureen’s Handmade Cards’ and you decide to add other product lines and expand your business, by sewing cushion covers, people might be quite confused about the name and you will need to keep explaining that you ‘also do cushion covers’. So, think about a name that could be used for not just now, but also in the future – e.g. ‘Maureen’s Handmade’.

Another good reason for choosing your business name carefully, is to check whether that name is available as a website, e-mail, Twitter or Facebook domain. This will be important if you decide to have a website or blog in the future. There are any number of domain providers (such as Reg 123) where you simply key in your chosen name to check if it’s available. The yearly fee is anything from £2.99 to £14.99 (or more). It is worth securing your domain early on, so that nobody else can take it later. There are number of endings to each website e.g., com, biz etc., so if you want to make sure that nobody uses the same name (but just with a different ending) buy all the domains.

Your business name can either be descriptive, so it is obvious what you do or you could think of a name that will evoke the ‘feeling’ about your products and the feeling that you want to evoke in your customer (e.g. Bespoke Vintage, Rose Vintage). You might also like to leave a bit unravelled, so that the customer is interested about the name and will want to know more (‘Through the looking glass…’).

Finally, you have to be comfortable with the name you choose. You will be the one, who will promote it and say it a million times to your potential customers, so it has to be something you have a strong connection with. In my own experience, it took me a few months to come up with a name and it was not for lack of choice ! My well meaning friends and husband suggested names, which I politely, but firmly refused. There was ‘The Midas Touch’. When you pronounce ‘Midas’ it sounds like my family name in Czech, but nobody would get this, would they ? Also, I do not work with gold, so why chose this name ?! My own first suggestion was: ‘Magdalena’. Well that is simple enough, it is my name after all and everything I do (which is quite a lot of different things) is linked back to me. Yes, a good choice, I hear you say, but then I saw that the cheapest web domain was 10 k (!!!) to buy and it was not even…

My otherwise lovely husband suggested ‘Sweet Touch’ on the basis that everything I bake is sweet and lovely, but I felt it sound it more like a massage parlour. I have already mentioned Cinnamon & Rose (or Cinnamon Rose), which I loved, but loads of people already had that, when I googled it.

Choosing your business name is exciting, it means that your business properly exists and you start creating your own piece of crafting world.

Oh, by the way, the name I chose in the end, came to me in the middle of the night and it was just perfect. I make chocolate, but also sew and most of my designs are in a shape of a heart. My favourite perfume is Coco Mademoiselle and all my things are made from my heart. So, that is how ‘Cocoa & Heart’ was born.

All images are from Cocoa and Heart, and you can find out more about Magdalena and her Cocoa & Heart business here:


Linzi Higgins said...

A really insightful post, thank you for sharing with us! <3 It's definitely given me food for thought :)xx

Evangeline Black said...

Thanks for this really useful post. I thought the issue around using your own name was very interesting.

Sherena said...

Great comments, just starting out myself and still having misgivings about the name I chose. Found out it was too long to be my twitter tag, so knowing that before I chose the name would have been very valuable!

Martha said...

lovely read, so true, enjoyed this one!

Ali said...

A great post and one which makes me think back to when I was choosing my own company name. At the time, my product was very different to what it is now and I'm so glad I went with the generic 'Ali's Craft Studio' (thanks in part to a great book I have on starting a craft businesses)

A very enjoyable read x

Ali x

Cocoa & Heart said...

Thank you for your kind comments - I am glad you found the article useful and hope others find it too. I really enjoyed writting it, so thank you Wendy for the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Such a good well written sensible post I love Cocoa and Heart as a name I think it is the mismatch of concepts that appeals the romantic with the homely.

Cocoa & Heart said...

Thank you Handmade Lives - that's interesting, I didn't even thought of that !

Anonymous said...

In creating a business name, you don't have to overthink and get your thesaurus to expand your vocabulary. A simple word that is related to your product can be a good sample on your tentative brand name list. In case you've figured out that the brand name you have is already existing, that's not a big problem, as long as you're not in the same location, same product, same target client, or worst—same logo.

Sharonda Head said...

Vernia's right. Your business name should be simple and related to your product. It should be easily understood by your customers. You don't have to use words that might give your client the wrong idea about your business. I know it's a plus if you have a unique business name, but you still have to consider your target clients.

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biscuitkeeper said...

Really really great and information rich post i have ever seen mate... thank you so much