It was once said that a rose by any other name would still smell like a rose.   A name may not be that important for most things; however, what you choose to name your business could help determine whether or not you are going to be successful.  The name of your business is often the first thing a potential customer knows about you and will shape that all important first impression, for good or bad.

Names that you believe are catchy or cute often are perceived by the public to be misleading, irritating or downright unappealing.   Here are some simple rules that may help you if you are thinking about what to name your small business.

Do not make up names that have no meaning within the English language or any other language.  Large companies with huge advertising budgets can develop name recognition even if they have meaningless names such as Verizon or Google.  This has become less of a problem with the extensive commercial use of the Internet and the proliferation of web based businesses that are able to attract a customer base without having a recognizable name.  Good examples of this are Skype, Groupon, and most recently, Grickets.

Do not use names that are cute to the point of being irritating.   If you are starting a contracting company do not become Bill the Builder or call your business Hammer Me Home.   How many times have we seen names such as Dew Drop Inn, Elbow Room or the Cut And Dye and cringed a little at the obvious play on words.

Do not engage in strained attempts to be the first listing in the yellow pages by calling your business AAAA Number One Car Rental.    Remember the old adage of he that is first shall be last.  You may think you have gotten the jump on your competition; however, most potential customers may not take you seriously and will keep looking.   Even though being found is now more about effectively using Internet search engines than the old fashion yellow pages, there is still some merit to this advice as some people still use the traditional yellow pages or similar online sites.

Do not use your own name as part of the name of your business if your name is extremely difficult to spell or pronounce.   Yes, we all like to see our name up in lights and usually you can’t go wrong using your own name; however, there are times when it just is not good business to make it more difficult for your customers to find you in the phone book or on the Internet.

Do not make your business name too long or complicated.   Usually it is best to keep the name of your business short and simple unless, perhaps, if you are a large law firm and want to string twenty names across your letterhead and business cards.   A business name that is short and simple is easier to remember and to find.

Do not let the name of your business confine you to a limited number of activities or be appropriate for only a limited amount of time.   For example, you would be better off with Joe’s Office Equipment Repair than Joe’s Copier Repair or John’s Winter Clothing Store should just be John’s Clothing Store.

Do not attempt to use a name similar to an already established business in an effort to create confusion and, certainly, do not steal someone else’s name.   Unless you are absolutely sure about the uniqueness of the name you are going to use, you need to check the name out, at least, at the county or state level.

What’s in a name?  Sometimes, everything.