So, you are ready to start your rental business. The first step, although it may not seem like a big deal, is pivotal: choosing the right name. There are several considerations when you choose a name for your business, and if you ignore any one of them it could have a significant, negative impact on your business.
1. The Domain Name MUST be Available
When somebody needs your services the first step they take these days is to look you up online. Whether they hear about your business from a friend and look it up or simply search for your industry in Google, they need to find your website if you want to get their business.
The Domain Name Should Be The Same as Your Business Name
The domain name is the address of your website, such as amazon.com or weather.com. The domain name of a site is something that you choose,purchase, and control as long as it is not already owned by somebody else.
A potential customer might hear about your business from a friend. If they go to look up your business online and the domain name is different from your business name they may pass you by and not even realize it. For example, you would be surprised if a friend told you to look up a store online called Amazon and their domain name was not Amazon.com. The same goes with your business. If the domain which matches your business name is not available it is best to choose a different business name.
The Domain Should Be A “.com”
There is a wide variety of URL endings now: “.net,” “.org,” “.biz,” “.us,” but Google (the search engine that will send you the enormous majority of your traffic online) still gives the most credence to the “.com” domain names.
When you search for a domain name, the registrar (such as GoDaddy) will offer you similar domains with endings such as “.biz” or “.us” for a lower price. Think about the last time you were on a website with one of those endings. If you are like most people, you probably do not visit a website like that regularly.
All of the websites that I have bookmarked on my personal computer and visit on a regular basis are “.com” domains. This is due to a couple of reasons. First, Google prefers to send back “.com” results as the top results for a search. Second, If somebody else already owns the “.com” name that I want they are going to have an easier time getting their business to show up naturally in Google searches, and my customers are more likely to find their site instead of mine (either through a search or by just typing in the name and assuming the “.com” ending).
If the “.com” domain name you are looking for is taken, it probably is not wise to settle for the “.net” or “.org” domain even though these are fairly common and well-known domains. It is unlikely that a customer would take the time to type in the business name with a “.net” or a “.org” extension to see if it leads them to your company after the “.com” takes them to a different company. They will simply move on.
Where to Buy A Domain Name
This next paragraph is going to get a little bit technical, but it is good information to know if you are managing your own business website.
There are many websites that serve as registrars for domain names. The most well-known (due to their extensive advertising) is GoDaddy.com. I personally tend to use my hosting provider (Bluehost) to register domains because it simplifies the process, but I occasionally check GoDaddy as well to see if they have a better deal at the time. The biggest advantage in buying domains from my hosting service is that I avoid the extra hassle and wait time that is necessary when transferring control the domain from a registrar like GoDaddy to the hosting service.
These are the only two sites that I have used to register a domain, and I have had good service from both.
2. It Helps if the Name is Search Engine Friendly
A consideration to keep in mind when selecting the name of your business is the likeliness of the name to show up when a customer does a search online for your service.
Take my family’s former company – Picnic Table Rental. Do you think we benefited in the search engines like Google for having that name? You bet we did.
It is easy to picture a parent planning their son’s high school graduation party and realizing that they need more tables and chairs than what they have. They open up Google and type in “table rental” or “chair rental” or maybe even “picnic table rental” if their party is outdoors. Picnic Table Rental shows up toward the top of the search, and the name of the site looks relevant so the parent clicks on that link first.
Google, which is far and away the most popular search engine, brings back results to the searcher based on relevance. Part of that relevance is the name of the site. Even though Picnic Table Rental only served a small area in southeastern Minnesota we would get calls from all around the United States asking either for our services or for recommendations of services in other areas. We were perceived as an authority on the rental industry in the whole country because our website showed up at the top of many relevant Google searches.
3. Memorable Names Have Many Benefits
A business name needs to be memorable. When you really think about the number of businesses that you hear about each day in radio commercials, TV commercials, billboards, newspaper ads, and otherwise, it is staggering. A catchy name can help your business to stand out and resonate with the customer.
There are two types of memorable names. I think of them as the “sticky” names and the “clever” names.
These are business names that are more or less made up and do not necessarily explain the purpose of the business, but they stand out and stick in our minds for some reason. A great example of this is Squidoo, a site which curates information pages. Squidoo was created in part my marketing guru Seth Godin, who wanted to give it a unique and memorable name that was easy to spell.
A sticky business name like Squidoo does not stand for anything – it is not derived from some deeper meaning. There is no history to it. But that is part of the advantage.
Sticky names have no history, so you get to write the history and control what is associated with it. You also control what comes up in the search engines. If you have a unique, made up name the odds are that you will not be competing with many others for the Google ranking for that name. This is important because potential customers are more likely to type your company name into Google to find you than they are to search for your company name with the “dot com” at the end.
The obvious disadvantage to these names is that they do not immediately convey the purpose of the business to new customers. My family picked up a lot of business from driving around town while towing a trailer that said “Picnic Table Rental” on each side. If our name had been made up, a passing driver would not have time to comprehend the purpose of our business and determine whether they needed our services in just the couple of seconds that they were in sight of our trailer.
When I was young my father had a business that helped people out when their car broke down. If your tire went flat or your battery died you would not have to find a way to get to the nearest repair shop. You would call my dad and he would drive over with his big truck full of supplies, including all sizes of tires, and he would get you back up and running. The business was called “Tires on Wheels.”
When I think back, this is one of my favorite business names ever. It is catchy, memorable, clever, and it tells you what the business does. A name like this stands out and really sets you apart from the competition. This is the advantage of a memorable name.
4. The Name Must be Easy to Spell
Using a business name that is easy to pronounce and spell is important in a time when most customers are going to go type your business name into Google to find you. With that in mind, consider the following tips:
Avoid Words With Multiple Spellings
While only one spelling of “there,” “their,” or “they’re” would likely be gramatically correct in your business name, do not expect that your customers will know which spelling is which. If it can be confused, it will be. This makes your business more difficult to find when potential customers are searching for you online.
Avoid Using Letters or Numbers in Place of Words
Replacing “four” with “4” and “you” with “U” might look clever or help you to get an exact-match domain name, but your customers will get confused and you will have to specify “the number 2” every time you give out your website name verbally. Simply avoid using these.
Avoid Difficult-to-Spell Words
You may live in a city that has a difficult spelling or you might be thinking about including a word that is often misspelled in your business name. Remember our rule from above: if it can be confused, it will be.
5. Choose a Name That is Not Easy to Confuse With Other Businesses
While my family ran a party rental business there were a few similar businesses that popped up in the area, some with very similar names. Sometimes we would get calls from customers confused about which company they were talking to. There were even occasions on which a customer would call us to change an order only to realize that they had made the original order with one of the other companies. Oops.
You can not control what other companies are going to do, but you can make an effort to come up with a memorable business name that stands out from the rest. Using a name that is unique, easy to remember, and easy to spell will make your company the first that people think about when they need your services.
6. Make Sure the Name is Not Already Trademarked
You want to be careful that the name of your business does not infringe upon any trademarked names. The best way to check this is through the US Trademark Office’s Electronic Search.
Also, be wary of using phrases that can be associated with other brands. A name such as “Rentals R Us” or “McRentals” is likely to get you a cease and desist letter from a larger company trying to protect their brand.
The Perfect Business Name
At the end of the day, the ideal business name is one which is memorable and easy to find online. This makes it easy for your customers to find you (why would you want to put any obstacles in the way of that?!) and it will add leverage to your marketing efforts.
What is the most clever business name you have come across?