5 Things To Think About Before You Name Your Business

September 9, 2013

Gather ’round Creativas, story time.

When I was approaching the end of my coaching curriculum, it was time to think about STARTING my BUSINESS.  It was very exciting stuff, and I wanted to do it right.  I wanted to be a REAL business, you know, with a name and stuff.   So I thought about names, and my life, heart, and personality.  I came up with the PERFECT name to call my business:  Girafa Coaching.  Girafa is giraffe in Spanish, I’m bilingual, and that’s important to me.  Plus Giraffes are an amazing and sentimental animal to me + were my dad’s favorite animal, so I definitely wanted to incorporate it.  Coaching seemed like a slam-dunk because duh, I was a life coach.

As it turned out, working in the US, Girafa was hard to pronounce/remember/explain.  Coaching also takes a bit of explaining as well.  I was spending SO LONG explaining my biz name, that I wasn’t getting to the what I actually do part.   I decided to shift to a simpler, easier to remember, English business name.  The Creative Giraffe was born.  Still on the giraffe-brand, but in English and not as tied to life coaching.

Fast forward 18 months –  I get tons of traffic to my website, but not much name recognition.  I’m asking people to remember two names, mine, and The Creative Giraffe.  And they’re not really retaining either.  If I have to choose which name I’d rather have people remember, it’d be mine, because I’m the product.  The Creative Giraffe is amazing, cute, evocative, but unclear what it does and what you’re in for.   With my name being the primary business name, that changes.  You want to give people one very clear thing to remember.

This scares me.  It does!  Spotlights have always been an uncomfortable place for me to be.  I was a stage manager in theater because backstage feels very comfortable to me.   But that’s not the life I am choosing, or the career I’m developing.  I want to be seen.  I want to be remembered.  My work is good, and I want it to change lives and be easily shared around the world.

So, my new URL is EllenErcolini.com  The Creative Giraffe is always in my heart, and it’s time to get more comfortable in the spotlight.

This process has been hard, emotional and frustrating.  I thought I’d share my 5 things to think about BEFORE you name your business, which I wish someone had told me earlier.

What Language Do Your Ideal Clients Speak?
This seems silly but I see so many business owners trying to make a French word work for them, or latin – and they are not French or Italian and don’t work in those markets.  My ideal clients speak English, so a Spanish name was ultimately a block.  I know there are some beautiful words in wonderful languages, but if you want your business to be easily talked about, make it easy to talk about.

Is Your Business Name Clear?
Like, does it give people a reason to stay without any other words attached?  Cutesy names are cute, but if it doesn’t evoke a sense of WHAT you do and WHY people should stay, you might circle back to branding your name.   Just make sure you don’t need to spend time explaining your biz name, it should explain it self.  Remember, clarity always is better than clever.

Does Your Biz Name Work For You?
Your business name should open doors, not block them or limit you.  If you imagine being a coach, writer, speaker and mentor, then maybe calling your business ‘suchandsuch coaching’ might be a hinder down the line.  If you want to be known as like, THE coach for divorced moms, then it’s perfect.  I might be biased, but I see SO many sites that are incredibly unclear what they do that I end up navigating away.   I’d hate for this to be your business.

Does it have legs?
Your name should be able to open doors for you (or at least not block them!) – does it have legs to grow on as you grow?  If you’re a local based business but wanting to take your goods online this might be something to think about.  Making sure you have a name that can grow with you, and play locally (if needed) and online is important.

Do You Want A Book Deal?
Then yourname.com might be the way to go.  Danielle LaPorte had to shift away from WhiteHotTruth, so did Kris Carr and Alexandra Franzen. These are some seriously accomplished ladies that left their unique biz names for the simplicity and recognition of their names.  It feels scary to start out as just yourself, but it might be perfect.  And spoiler, if you’re hoping to get a book deal one day, be a public speaker, or in any way leverage your youness, you’re going to need to have a site that is simply your name.

What I know is that businesses shift.  Rebrands are almost inevitable.  Thinking about where you want to be and what you want to do in advance might save you some time and heartache.  Plus, you don’t need a business NAME to be a business owner -which I seriously didn’t realize until a year ago.   And, don’t over think it too much.  It’s easy to obsess about a name and not do anything else until it’s perfect.  That only hurts you.  To be in business you only need paying customers, not a fancy business name.   So if your stuck on the naming, get some customers, do some work, and see what evolves.

Questions? Want specific feedback? Leave me a comment, I’d be happy to give you my thoughts!

Put more you in your business

(regardless of your myers-brigg)

14 thoughts on “5 Things To Think About Before You Name Your Business

  1. I have a Q on this: I’m a coach and want to be known by my name -but I don’t really like my name (duh) and I’m afraid that it might change in the future, getting married and all.

    What are your thoughts on that, the fact that as women our last names could change throughout our lives?

    I’ve been playing with the idea of a pen name, just because I like how artsy it feels and I’d actually get to choose my last name. Not so sure how I’d choose it though.

    As you can see I’m in the midst of figuring all this out and would love some thoughts!

    • Hi Iris!

      That’s a great question and one a lot of women think about – there are a few options. You can totally choose your pen name, this could be Iris ____, maybe Iris or Iris . That would be unique to you, and likely unchanging.

      Sally Hope is a great example of this, but she hit the middle name JACKPOT because her middle name is Hope 🙂

      Or you can brand under your name now, and it evolves to your pen name when you get married. This is actually my plan, because I feel like when I do get married (yay love!) I’ll be ready to have a more public and private persona/name. So for me, that’s part of my strategic growth plan.

      In terms of choosing, you want something that resonates with you, that’s simple, clear and you don’t have to over explain a million times. I saw your name pop up on my calendar, let’s chat more about where you are with this during your PowerSesh. Talk soon! xx

  2. Oh, I so wish I had this article back when I was deciding whether to go with my name or not! Would have made it a lot easier.

    But, I decided to go for it (even if I thought my name was impossible to spell or remember) and I’m so glad I did!

    Great story plus lessons!

    • Leah, I am SO glad you did! It helps all the other folks out there struggling with their ‘unmemorable’ or ‘hard to pronounce’ last names see that it’s totally possible.

      You’re a role model! <3

  3. Hey Ellen,

    Thank you so much for this amazingly useful article.
    I am in the process of creating my business as a style and lifestyle coach/mentor. My clients will be english-speaking ladies and my expertise + personal branding will be strongly based on and inspired on my french culture and background.

    I have a Q: I think my name can be quite difficult to pronounce in english which could make it hard to remember, not to mention spell (even I also say to myself “what the heck! Marion Cotillard, Jean-Paul Gautier or Yves Saint-Laurent just went for it, after all!). But then again, my french identity and character is a big part of what my clients will buy. So, what do you think the best options are? Focusing on image and use my full name or making it as easy as possible and use a service related name?
    I’d love to read your thoughts on this.

    • I’m so glad you found it amazingly useful!

      I would look at just your first name, or first + middle, or first plus a made up middle or last name 🙂

      Virginie is SO CUTE – and I don’t think it’s that hard to say or remember, so lets pair it with something else on par with that, that evokes your French flair and culture.

      I’m not saying don’t be you, but I AM saying we can get a bit creative and flexible with the packaging. A stage name, perhaps 🙂

  4. Hi Ellen – a great post by someone with a great name 😉 I think it’s pushed me towards using my own name for my new site and offering. Scary – but it makes sense. Just got to get my heart following my head now!

    • LOVELY name!

      Take some time with it in your heart, it takes a bit for it to catch up – it can be scary and vulnerable to put it out there in that way.

      Spend some time with yourself and don’t rush the process, but do make it happen 🙂

  5. Great post Ellen, man alive do I wish I had read something like this a year ago.

    My issue was not actually my business name, but more choosing the wrong domain name which was hyphenated. Facepalm! Don’t do it people!

    I’ll pass this post on x

    • Oh no! Hyphenated URL, that IS rough.

      I am on a mission to get this awareness into more peoples hands/hearts/minds earlier in their business development so they can avoid stuff like that. Thanks for sharing the article! xx

  6. I’m reading this post at the perfect time. My friend and I recently started this business together and we went in full force without really giving a lot of thought to our name, which is I Am Glowing. We want to be completely happy about our decision before we go any further.

    If we decided to change it, because we are partners, it would have to be Leah & Nathalie. Wouldn’t a creative name be a better choice when there’s two of us?

    I’m building our new site asap so we would love your feedback!

  7. Hi there,
    Peter here with the most difficult mission in my career switch and starting my own business as a Life Balance Coach. I was thinking to use my name PetarDimitrov.com but the problem I am facing is that there are so many people coming up on google search, as Dimitrov is very common in my country, there are football player, it specialist and etc. The second option I was thinking about was CoachPeter.com but it`s already taken. So I am not sure how to choose my website domain name.
    I have a question can I change my name, I mean using a name that is not mine, something like the authors have others names?
    It might be funny, but I am really facing those difficulties and I feel stuck from here..
    Thanks and really great job, I like reading your posts 🙂

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