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Finding a killer business name

07 June 2022

Finding a killer business name

You’ve got a great business idea, now you just need a name. In this article we look at some things to consider when picking a unique, memorable business name. How did you come up with the name of your business?

Shakespeare once wrote ‘What’s in a name?’ Well, everything really! After the initial idea of a new business, a name is the first thing that needs to be decided on.

A business name can instantly create a whole picture in the mind of a customer, before they even see the product or experience the service. But picking a good, effective name can be tricky.

You want it to be memorable, but not too popular. Unique, but not too difficult to pronounce or spell. While changing a business location or even a logo is relatively easy, a business name is something you don’t want to change, and so it’s important to pick the right one.

We spoke to Creative Director, Adam Lance of brand and advertising agency, The Village of Useful, who has named dozens of products and businesses over the years, to get his suggestions for things to consider when it comes to naming a business

Do your research

The best names often have some rigour behind them. A little research goes a long way. A simple Google search of the history of your product or even your business location could produce some excellent ideas.

Adam Lance says “Delving into the background of your product or service could reveal an interesting place to find a name. Car maker Tesla was named after Nikola Tesla, an historical figure in the development of the electrical supply system and the toy company, Tonka is an abbreviation of the town Lake Minnetonka.”

Encourage a conversation

A name that gets people thinking or asking ‘what does that mean’ helps to stand out and be memorable. Get a potential customer asking you where the business name comes from and you have a perfect invitation to sell the benefits of your product. Finding a name that sounds interesting and provocative is a great place to start.

“But you want to ensure that the name is provocative and relevant to your business” says Lance, “not just provocative for the sake of it - think names like Google which refers to the amount of information the search engine can access (a googol  is 1 with 100 zeroes). The name Lego comes from the Danish words ‘leg godt’ meaning ‘play well’.”

Acronyms and personal names

Two common name tropes are three letter acronyms and using your own name in the business. Both of these have their advantages, however they also can be limiting. Unless you have huge marketing budgets and years in-market behind you as with the likes of BMW and IBM, most three letter acronyms are easily forgotten or mixed up.

Using your own name can work if you are widely known in the industry you are opening a business in.

“Global advertising agency, Saatchi & Saatchi was named after two very famous brothers in the industry. The name worked well because of the fame of the brothers and because the name I believe looks and sounds interesting” says Lance. “But use caution with your own name, it can be limiting if one day you plan to sell or leave the business. “It didn’t end perfectly for the Saatchi brothers as they were forced to leave the agency that carried their name and open in competition.”

Is there a name hidden in a benefit?

Sometimes your product or service does something differently than the competition and you can spell this benefit out in a really good way. “The company 7-Eleven got its name from the operating hours (7am to 11pm)  which at the time were quite unusual. The company retains the name today even though the opening hours have changed” says Lance.

“Liquid Paper was a brilliant concise description of the product benefit” he continued “as was, margarine brand, ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’. I’ve always loved that name, not only does it scream the unique product benefit but it sounds so different to every other product in the category.”

Geographical locations

It’s a common step to name your business with a word or words that locate it to a suburb or region; think names like Bob’s Toowoomba Plumbing or Darwin East Sushi. These types of names are potentially good for people searching online in these local areas - those people know at the very least, your business is close by.

The downside of geographically confining your business in the name is if at a later date you want to expand beyond the area you’re named after. What worked before for people searching could now work against you.

The other downside for geographical confining names is that as this is a common naming practice, you will find yourself fighting for attention with every other business that has used the same naming convention.



If you’re hoping to branch out your business internationally, you’ll want to ensure it translates well at least into the markets you’re hoping to reach. The baby food brand ‘Gerber’ translates to ‘vomit’ in french. When Coca-Cola first went into the Chinese market, the characters of the brand translated to ‘bite the wax tadpole’. Of course, if you have no intention to do business outside of Australia, checking translations are less important.

Username availability

While it’s not the end of the world, in an ideal situation your social media username is the same as your business name. Some businesses get around a taken username by adding a location such as ‘_au’ at the end of their profile name, however this can be limiting if you hope to expand internationally. A quick search for social media platforms will show you other businesses that use your name and will help you decide whether it’s unique enough for potential customers to find you.


Are you legally allowed to use your name? The Australian Government has a handy tool for searching trademarks, this is a good first step.  If you want to operate internationally you’ll also have to check registered trademarks for each country or region. If you use a name that is too close to another, it is not only confusing for your customers, it can be a costly mistake with legal and rebrand expenses adding up.

Don’t decide by committee

Everyone will have different opinions on what makes a good name and these opinions will be vastly different. Back yourself and your research. If you ask too many people for their choice, you will end up with the most vanilla, often quite boring option.

Once you have your business name, you need to make sure it’s properly protected with the right insurance. Visit NRMA for a business insurance quote.


Small Business