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You started out with your heart set on the PERFECT name for your fledgling handmade business, but then a quick google search reveals it was the perfect name for someone else’s business first. Next thing you know you’re hitting roadblocks on every name you like and adding names that make your supportive friends look at you like you’re crazy, to your “names to check” list, in the hope that one of them will be ok!
Oh how I know that pain ….. At one desperate stage my handmade business Ainslee Fox, was going to be called “No Snow” and One Thimble was almost “Mill Road”!
I’m pretty sure naming your business is a bit like childbirth, you get amnesia as to how much it sucks when its done and your new name is set in stone … or at least ink on your business cards! But Mr Fox (my husband) is in the midst of coming up with a name for his handmade business, so I’m revisiting the naming dramas by proxy. Rather than wasting all the stellar naming advice I’m giving him I thought I should write it down in case it could be of help to you!
Please note I'm not a business expert these are simply my opinions based on my experiences. If you've got any other naming tips please let me know and I'll add them to this post!
My naming “rules”
1. Make it short and sweet.
2. Make it easy to spell.
3. Make it easy to pronounce or sound out phonetically.
4. Make sure written it doesn’t look like something rude. If your name has a few words see how they look mooshed together like an url … are any unintended words revealed?
5. Make sure it’s not already being used by someone else. This also goes for non-business use too. If you choose a common phrase you may find that you’ll struggle to come up in search engines as the other more common mentions of the phrase would come up first.
6. Make sure it doesn’t mean something different in different languages (check google translate).
7. “Made up” words are good. But still check them – we discovered words we “made up” were actual words when doing this for Mr Fox.
8. Run your name past some people who fit your “ideal customer” profile as well as people of different ages and demographics. Your name may have pop culture connotations you weren’t aware of.
* Extra Tip from Sharon : Don’t use a name that limits your business too much in the future. For example, my engineering business is called VSA Project Services, not VSA Engineering. I didn’t want to limit it to just engineering, but also construction/project management and contract administration. I am now doing asset management reporting which is totally different again, but the business name still encompasses that. Another example would be including the word Baby in your clothing business name when you may want to branch out into other demographics down the track.
Tips for thinking of names
1. Make a big list of all the names you like. Try doing this “stream of consciousness” style ie set a timer for 5 minutes and write down everything you think of – don’t edit as you go write everything down whether it’s good or not.
2. Think of your product and your “ideal customer” what sorts of words, sounds would appeal to them. If you’re aiming to make pretty, girly baby clothes to sell to new Mum’s, then grungy or dark words are probably out! You want your ideal customer to feel good saying the name of your business when they tell their friends about you!
3. Write down words that have meaning to you (example: nicnames, colours and words you like, places you’ve been, mispronounced words from your childhood, your favourite words).
4. Carry a notebook around for a few days and write down everything you think of. Even if the words you write down are not good names they might send your thinking off on a tangent that will help you come up with a good name.
5. Chat to friends and family and see what they think about your product and see if any names come up for you while they’re talking.
6. Hire someone to name your handmade business. There’s lots of experts who can help with this (and a large range of price points).
7. Try the Business Name Generators mentioned in this Blog Post over at Craft Maker Pro HERE.
Places to “check” if your name is in use
1. Google your chosen name and also alternative spelling or spelling errors of your name to check that they aren’t in use.
2. Check social media platforms for the availability of your name and also check alternative spelling or spelling errors of your name to check that you aren’t in use (example: ainslee, ainsley, ainslie).
3. Check availability of the domain name for your chosen business (example: .com, .com.au, .net etc).
4. Check selling platforms for other businesses using your chosen name or close alternatives (example: etsy, made it, ebay etc).
5. Check business name availability from the appropriate government agency (example: in Australia that’s ASIC -> HERE Choose “Check Name Availability” in the drop down box in the top right corner ).
6. Check trademarks – local and international. (example: in Australia that’s IP Australia -> HERE and ATMOSS -> HERE ). It’s really important to understand that you can register a business name, but if that name breeches someone’s trademark you can still be legally required to stop using that name, even though you have registered that name. Trademarks “trump” Business Name Registration. You might be in breech of trademark even if your name is partially different to a trademarked name if that different part is a synonym of the trademarked name. Trademarks are complicated and expensive. To be very sure that you aren’t breaching anyone’s trademark you would need to hire a lawyer.
My advice to Mr Fox is to do his best with checking for trademarks. If he finds out down the track that he’s infringing on a trademark he will need to change his name &/or seek legal advice.
What to do next
1. “Get” the name on all the social media platforms you can think of. Even if you don’t intend to use all of those platforms up front.
2. Register the domain name for your intended business name. In Australia you’ll need to have the business registration for that name first in order to register the .com.au of that name – (I imagine that there’d be similar rules in other countries) but you don’t need to have registered your business name to get .com domains. Consider registering variations of your domain names (eg. onethimble.com and also onethimblemagazine.com etc). You don’t need to get a website right away but if you have the names “saved” they’ll be there when you want them. Having variations of your domain keeps your options open.
3. Open a store using your name on the shop platforms you imagine you’ll use.
4. Register your business name.
5. Consider trademarking your name (but many people don’t do this until they are more established).
Oh and in the end remember that names grow on you. Don’t use not having the perfect name as a form of procrastination. I distinctly remember having second thoughts about Ainslee Fox and wondering if I should change it a few months in. After a while when your customers think of your business they’ll think about all the things your business means to them rather than the words set in ink on your business card.
There’s lots more that will determine the success or failure of your business than the name … “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – William Shakespeare from Romeo & Juliet