How To Choose The Best Name For Your Business

list of top business names

I have spent half a lifetime worrying over what to call each business I start, even though I know instinctively it’s a pointless task.

So I did a little research.

Let’s look at the UK first.

I needed a benchmark, and the UK FTSE 100 seemed ideal. 18 companies out of 101 include something in their name to suggest what they do (eg. Royal Bank of Scotland). So that’s 18%.

To see if there was a trend up or down I chose The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies. 25 of these have something in their name to suggest what they do (eg. TSL Education). That’s 25%.

I also checked The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies, as this is likely to include more recent players. And it turns out it’s the same.

That is 25% of the 100 best small businesses tell you (all be it very loosely) what they do in their name.

list of top business namesNow let’s have a look at the US and the rest of the world in general.

According to Forbes list of ¬†Best Small Companies, 44 of the 100 listed have some mention of their industry in their business name. That’s 44%.

The Dow Jones 30 shows just 3 that suggest what they do in their name. That’s 10%.

According to the New York Stock Exchange Company listings, of the 83 traded, 20 have some notion of what they do in their name. Just over 24%.

And if we take the top 65 companies globally, we find 17 with their industry in their name (often very loosely, eg. Petrobras). That’s 26%

So when you next struggle to name your enterprise, bear in mind that the vast majority of successful businesses choose meaningless names!

However, if Forbes and The Sunday TImes are to be believed, then perhaps the trend is changing. But don’t count on it!

If you are stuck for a business name, the safe bet is to use your own name, initials or some play on it.

Using your own name plus industry is certainly safe and lets prospects know your area of expertise (eg. Jane Jones Photography) but how come there are almost zero top companies using this method?

What really matters is not the name you choose, but the way you choose to market it.

To highlight that, let’s go back 50 years and gawp in wonder why anyone would choose to name one of the world’s best known pop groups after a pun on an insects name. The Beatles.

So, the best advice is to spend your valuable time on productivity, especially marketing and forget worrying about names.

The proof is in the stats.

Quentin Pain

Quentin Pain is an author, speaker, and writer on entrepreneurship, business start ups and growth. He is a 'Dummies' series author and founder of a number of books on business and marketing.