How do you choose a name for your business or blog? It’s one of the most important choices with regard to your branding.

And it’s like naming your baby. Except there’s no Business Baby Name Book to rely on. And in fact, the best business name is one that hasn’t been used before.

Here are some things to consider as you decide on your business’ name. Remember to start from the archetypes and themes you’ve already uncovered. If you’ve already chosen a name, test it against these 5 elements to see if it meets your needs.

  1. Your business name should be memorable – but easy to spell.

Obviously, your ideal customers and target audience need to be able to remember your business name. But they also need to be able to find it easily if they’re looking for it online. So choosing a business name such as “Crychalwellyn” is a bad idea. Unique is good but difficult spellings aren’t the best first choice. When you’re developing a totally new product, a strange name can be a good thing. But those names will require some education (e.g. additional marketing) in order for potential customers to understand them. Google and Yahoo were in that category when they first appeared on the scene. But they had loads of marketing dollars behind them that helped quickly educate the public to what they were about.

  1. A winning business name needs a visual element.

What popped into your head when you read “Crychalwellyn”? Anything? Most people don’t visualize anything when they read that made-up name. But generally we are hard-wired to “see” images when we read or hear language, and incorporating a visual element into your business name can be a powerful aid to customers’ memory (and a powerful advertising tool).

You’ll also be better able to create a great logo if the name has a visual. The catch is that…

  1. A fabulous business name has to have positive connotation.

Many words have both denotation (literal meaning) and connotation (emotional meaning). A word’s connotation can be positive, neutral or negative, depending on the emotional associations that people generally make. The classic example is the difference between “Mom” (which has a very positive connotation) and “Mother” (which has a neutral connotation).

When you create a business name, you need to choose words that have the positive connotations that you want people to associate with your business – and make sure these connotations are suitable for your business. They can certainly be positive in one sense, but give a negative connotation in another (e.g. “positive” means one thing to someone who wants to get pregnant and something totally different to a person taking an AIDS test.)

If you are starting a trucking business, for instance, you don’t want it to have a weak sounding or negative name, such as “Willow Twig Trucking” or “Kitten Transport.” You want a business name that conveys strength and reliability. A choice such as “Stone Creek Trucking” would be much better. Notice how all these names have a strong visual element.

  1. The name should include information about what your business does.

Chances are good that your new business is not going to become an international brand. It certainly isn’t instantly going to become as well known as Nike. So you need to be sure that your new business name at least gives your potential customers or clients some clues about what you actually do. That’s why you see so many landscaping businesses that have the word “landscaping” in their name, and hair styling businesses that include words such as “salon” or even “hair designs” in their names.

Including information about what your business does in your business name also makes it easier for potential customers and/or clients to find your business in directories (both off and online).

  1. A great business name should be fairly short.

Once again this is vital because you want customers and clients to be able to remember your business’ name (and be able to tell other people what it is)! But it’s also important for promotional purposes. You want a business name, for example, that will fit well on a business card, look good displayed on a sign or in an ad, and perhaps even a business name that will serve well as a domain name and show up well in search if you have an online business. So keep it as short as possible.

Create at least two winning business names, and three is even better, because once you’ve selected them, the next step is to see if you can register the domain name (and your first choice may already be taken).

In what sense does your business name meet (or not) these 5 criteria?