I have a confession. I'd never really, truly, been happy with my original company name. I’m not saying it was a terrible name, it just didn't fit very well.

I lived with it, but there was always that little niggle in the back of my mind.

I won’t dwell on my personal thought process here – I’m all sorted now. But what I wanted to talk about today was how important it is to get it right – the correlation between your company name and your image.

As a graphic designer, I spend a lot of time thinking about company images and branding. And my plight has made me think a little deeper about the process. Where do I start when faced with a rebrand, or a web design, for a client? I think that actually, the name probably plays a more significant part than I previously thought.

Subconsciously, I’m often led at first by the name. It sets the tone for everything that follows. Colours, fonts, and the tone of voice are all hinged on the business name, even if it’s not that obvious.

A reflection of you and your market

A good business name reflects who you are and who your clients are. It’s usually the first item on the agenda when we create our business, but how much do we really consider the name when we start the design process for our websites and branding?

Perhaps, then, we should start by going back to basics. Who do you want to attract? By getting a clear profile of your perfect client, you can get into their heads and explore what attracts them. If your ideal client base is, for example, the CEO of a high-profile marketing agency, you don’t want to approach them with a name and image that more reflects a small business or e-commerce company.

Different demographics have different needs – by tapping into those needs, we can better design our business branding to attract them.

It’s good to visualise what your business name will look like under your brand. Does the name make you think of something modern and vibrant, or does it lend itself to something traditional or more subdued? We can do this in both our business name and our image – both should fit seamlessly together.

Of course, the type of industry will also come into play. Still, it stands to reason that if your company name includes something soft and feminine, you’ll want to consider soft colours and perhaps a more rounded font. In contrast, if you’re in an industry where your audience and product are universal, you’ll want to appeal by using stronger, bolder themes.

Imagine, for example, a classic motorbike restoration business using pastel coloured handwritten script in its logo. It doesn’t quite fit, does it?

On choosing a name

Your name is probably the most recognisable aspect of your business, so it’s actually pretty important to get it right. It should reflect your personality, what your company does, and most of all, be memorable.

It needs to be, first and foremost, a name that you’re comfortable with. Think of this – would you be happy to answer the phone and announce your company name, or would it make you cringe a little? There’s a good test right there.

It’s OK to have a quirky name if that’s your vibe but make sure it’s relatable and tells your customers who you are.

Something else to consider is the spelling. Is your name a play on words? Is it a long name, or does it include numbers or symbols? Replacing letters with numbers can look cute – but make sure it’s evident in your web address! Most of your customers will want to search for you online, so if there’s something a little different in your name, make sure it can easily be searched for online.

Simplicity is key

It can be easy to overcomplicate things in both the name and the design. There’s no real need to – often, the most straightforward ideas are the most memorable.

Make your business name easy to pronounce and communicate (“Severn… with an ‘r’… yes, like the river…”) and easy to translate into your branding, and you won’t go far wrong.

There are plenty of sources of inspiration if you’re stuck for ideas, and there’s nothing wrong with testing out a few ideas with people you know – perhaps set up a few mock-ups and see which your friends, family, and peers prefer. You might get feedback that hadn’t occurred to you, which can be invaluable.