What’s in a Name? (Choosing Just the Right Business Name)

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks helping one of my closest friends embark on one of the most exciting and anxiety-fueled ventures of her life: starting her own business! A sundae and milkshake bar that we’re aiming to have opened by the end of the year. It’s been a real opportunity for me to relive the steps I took in getting started and guide her in avoiding some of the missteps along my journey. But through all the business plan drafting and number crunching, it’s almost comical to me that we’ve been stuck for the last two days on something seemingly simple: the business name.

You see, there are so many roads you can take in naming your business, and whatever road you choose has to be just right in setting the tone of your business. It’s the first thing people see, the first glimpse consumers will have into your organization, and the initial impression that will leave its mark on any potential clients or customers – positive or negative. A business is conceived with an idea and is born with a name, so the stakes couldn’t be higher. It seems fair then that this part of the process has plagued us with a persistent feeling of uncertainty and doubt. We’ve decided to create a few guidelines, though, that we’re hoping will lead us to that perfect business name.

For one, we’ve decided that whatever name we choose, it’ll have to be contemporary and playful. It’s ice cream! So an academic and to the point name is not going to draw the childlike, summer loving, sprinkle-coated euphoria that is essential to the vision of this business. Whatever the business name, it needs to set the tone for the business and reflect the vision that you’ve created for your establishment.

That being said, it can’t be so modern and edgy that it’s easily forgotten. There’s something to be said for simplicity. My favourite example of this in the city is “The Beer Store”. Playful, matter of fact, explanatory, and definitely unforgettable. It’s done exactly what it set out to do. And better yet, when customers begin sharing their experiences with their friends, families, and taxi cab drivers, it won’t be anything like “They were awesome! Incredible! I think their name starts with…”

We’ve also been trying to find a balance between being descriptive with her business name without pigeon-holing her and taking away any room she has for potential future growth. We could call her shop “The Ice Cream Shop”, but then what happens if she decides she wants to expand into frozen yogurt or baked desserts or hot chocolate instead of milkshakes in the winter?  This is a tricky one, but important enough to consider.

I think the best lesson we’ve learned from this experience though is to be completely fearless with the process. Our brainstorming sessions have been a riot, with 99% of the name choices pitched not even making it to the ‘Maybe’ list. Choices that seemed like a good idea at 2am all of a sudden seem ridiculous come daylight, and we can’t for the life of us remember the names that we thought were IT three hours before. It’s a process, sometimes a short one, sometimes a long one, but it might just be the most fun you have in this great, new adventure, so it’s okay if you take your time! When it’s right, it’s right, and you’ll know!

In the meantime, any name ideas for a super cute boutique ice cream shop?

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