You took the big leap and you started your own business. The first question you will get is “what is your business’ name?” This is where we reach our first obstacle.

Remember your business name is one of the first things that will come out of your mouth when you talk about your business. Therefore you must like your own business name, actually like it a lot. This will be part of your brand, you will give it to a customer and supplier when dealing with them. If you are not passionate about your name, it will appear as if you are not passionate about your business.

1 – Don’t make it too complex:
I came across a name where the 4 x parents’ names (2 x wife, 2 x husband) were combined to form a business name. I think this is a great idea of honouring the parents, but in my opinion not easy to remember and I think they need to spell the name with every telephone conversation with suppliers or customers. Two (maximum three) words is in my opinion the best, with two syllables per word. You want potential customers to easily remember your name, so that they can locate your company profile easily.

2 – Consider having your service in you name:
An example is Now Afrique Construction – you know it is a construction company just from looking at the name. Therefore the name is already a marketing tool. One of the first questions that will come to mind is: “but you do not have your service in your name, practice what you preach!” There was long discussions and deliberations if I should include my service in my name. I eventually decided to leave out the service, as I wanted to establish a brand and if I get other ventures going, the brand will already include a service, which might not be part of the new venture.

3 – Consider using your geographical area in your name:
If you are in a specific geographic area and render services in that area, you can consider including your area in your name. An example is Utah Construction. The downside of a name linked to a geographical area is that should you decide to either go national or relocate to another area, you will need to rename and rebrand your business.

4 – Don’t be a copycat:
Do not copy the name (or parts of it) of competitors. Get your own unique name. This will make your business stand out more once potential customers begin searching for entities providing the same service as you do.

5 – Do not use your own name:
If you start a business, do not use your own name. Initially it might seem like a great idea, but should you decide you want to sell the business, a unique name will make it easier to sell.

6 – Do a thorough internet search:
Search the internet for businesses with the same name as you and even include the service you want to deliver in the search. One of the names I considered was Wild Olive, but after an internet search, I found that I will end up competing with a lot of guesthouses and decided against the name.

7 – Make sure the related domain is available:
You want your domain (for websites and e-mails) to be as close to your business name as possible. The reason for this is you do not want your business name to be Brown Leaves Garden Services, but your e-mail is for example So once you have a shortlist of names, make sure the domain is still available. Also keep in mind that the domain need to be easily spelled over the phone (I have worked for entities with 6 letters in the domain to companies with 17 (yes 17) letters in the domain name, and in all cases I had to spell my e-mail address to customers over the phone). The fact that my name already have 10 letters in it did not make it any easier. It also seems as if you are more serious about your business if you have your own domain in your e-mail rather that a free service provider (like g-mail).

8 – Get the input of a select few:
Before you choose a name, make a list of a few (say 5) people you want to give input in the name of your business. Pick a name and ask for their input. Know beforehand that you will not be able to please everybody, so rather just ask them for straight forward comments on your idea. In the branding of my business, when all 4 people asked: “why is that letter in the logo?” I realised that to me the letter have significance, but even to people that know me it did not make sense, and I scrapped the letter from the logo.


Once you have chosen a name, reserve the domain, do the branding of the entity and get going.

I will do a later blog about the different types of business entities (and which one to choose) – be it a sole proprietor, a company or a trust. The name you choose for your business can be used regardless of the legal entity. For example it can be Joe Soap (the individual) trading as Brown Leaves Garden Services, or ABC company (Pty) Ltd trading as Brown Leaves Garden Services or The Trust trading as Brown Leaves Garden Services.

Share this...