Naming a Small Local Business

Written By PhilG

Bradford Marketing Hub contains articles and information that help small and medium service businesses.

In this post I’m assuming you’re starting a small local business on a tight budget and you’re not building a business to sell. If you hope to sell your business, naming the business after yourself is not such a good idea. In that case you’d choose a more brandable name and register that name so nobody can prevent you from using it.

Your tagline or elevator pitch.

If you’ve already got a tagline or elevator pitch, you’ve got a clear and concise overview of who you are, what you do, and who you help.

An elevator pitch is how you answer the question; what do you do? Make your answer short and clear. You must get your message across quicker than an elevator travels from one floor to the next. A well written elevator pitch is a great start when naming a small business.

Be clear and concise so customers understand what you do without further explanation.

For instance: we fit kitchens and bathrooms in and around Bradford.

This is short, clear, and easy to understand. If they’re interested, they can ask qualifying questions, such as “if I buy kitchen units from Ikea could you fit them?”

Naming a small business.

You’ve now got three things you could include in your business name.

  • Kitchens.
  • Bathrooms.
  • Bradford.

You could also include your family name and a word such as contractors.

Smith’s Kitchens and Bathrooms.

This is a simple way of naming a small business. However, it’s not the only option.

Other types of business names.

  • single word names
  • a single made up word such as Kodak
  • acronyms
  • descriptive names
  • or suggestive names.

Single, real word, names.

Single word names are more common among big businesses. These include Amazon, Argos, Google, and Sainsburys. Being found on Google for a single real word is difficult, this makes single word names less popular for smaller businesses.

Made up single words.

TESCO is the combined initials of the business founders. Another made-up word is Kodak, George Eastman thought up Kodak out of thin air because he liked the letter k.

Getting a made-up word to rank high on Google is made easier because that word only appears on your website. However, if your business name is a word you made up yourself, nobody will know what that word means or what type of business it represents. So, you might have to spend more on advertising than if you had a descriptive business name.

Descriptive names.

These are my favourites because the name makes it clear what the business does. Smith’s Crisps, British Telecom, Read’s Roofing.

Suggestive names.

Suggestive names are not as clear as descriptive names, they hint at what the business does. For instance, there is a pet care company called Rover.

Prefixes and suffixes.

There are many other ways to name your business, but my favourite is to use a descriptive name and add your family name at the beginning and a suffix at the end. Such as Smith’s Roofing Contractors. If that’s being used by someone local, you could add your first name, Sam Smith Roofing.

The telephone test.

Word of mouth is vitally important for a small business. So, when naming a small business you need to consider how easy it is to say your business name. If your customer is talking to a friend on the phone and recommends your business, how easy is it for them to say your business name and domain name? Try these two options, 24-7-roofing, or Sam Bishop Roofing. The friend needs to know how exactly to type the domain name, so you have to say: twenty four as a digit, then a hyphen, then seven as a digit then the word roofing, oh, and it’s a dot com, not a dot co dot uk. The other option is easier, it’s Sam Bishop roofing dot co dot uk all one word.

Your business name will pass the telephone test if it is…

  • Easy to say.
  • Easy to spell.
  • Easy to remember.
  • And includes a hint of the business type you operate.

Business name length.

Keep your business name short but meaningful. If you have a popular name such as Smith, and a common business type such as roofing or gardening, you might compete with a lot of similar named businesses.

However, Google knows this and shows local results for what it believes to be local searches. This works in your favour.

Google My Business.

The best thing you can do for local SEO is to claim and fully fill out your free Google My Business listing. Then encourage your customers to give you a review via Google reviews. Few people realise how important this is. For a local business looking for local customers, it’s vital.

Choosing a domain name.

The video above is from Moz.com see the full blog post there…

You don’t have to use your business name for your domain name. If you’re a small local business serving local customers, this is what I recommend…

  • Choose your business name.
  • Make sure you can legally use that name.
  • Check to see if your exact domain name is available.
  • If not, add a prefix or suffix to your business name and see if that domain name is available.

Before buying your domain name, make sure you can use that domain name and that you’re not infringing on any copyright laws, etc.

There are several online checkers to see if someone already registered a company using a particular name, but if in doubt, you’d have to consult a lawyer.

Exact match domain names.

When naming a small business, some people name their business with Google in mind, not their customers in mind. So instead of calling their business Smith’s Roofing, they call it Roofing Contractor Bradford. To a human being, this sounds like a strange and therefore suspicious business name. But the business owner is hoping it will trick Google into ranking their business higher than it deserves to be in the search engine listings. Unfortunately, this can work sometimes.

However, being ranked higher in the search results is no use if people don’t convert into customers after landing on your website.

I do not recommend using an exact match domain name, or business name, for your business.

One of the biggest problems with an exact match domain name is that it makes it harder for customers to find your business online. Because when they search for you, they see a list of every web page that targets the search term you named your business after, and even if you rank number one for that search term, you’re likely to have a list of adverts above the link to your website. This makes it even more difficult for your customers to find your website by searching Google.

Some useful links.

Read more useful articles like this in my blog...