The choice of an appropriate business name is one of most important decisions a new business owner will have to make. Choosing what we think is the perfect name only to find out that someone got there first can be heartbreaking. I know, having been through this process with a number of clients. Then the iterations happen. How can we get around it? Can we have a variant? Can we use different words that mean the same thing? All valid strategies, but always ending up, feeling like a compromise. Sometimes, it is better to just start again from scratch.
Issues with similar business names
If your preferred name has been taken by a competitor, choosing an alternative that is similar is fraught with dangers. Using an extreme analogy, it would be like setting up a fast food chain and calling your business “McDermotts”. Some might favour this as a strategy to “piggyback” the goodwill already generated by the competition. I think it is a poor excuse for lack of creativity, not to mention a possible infringement of trademarks.
Then, there is brand confusion. A web designer I once knew made this compromise, choosing a name so similar to a competitor, with only one letter separating their business names. When I looked for her business on the web, I found her competition instead. Whilst there are ways and means to overcome this issue, it is an unnecessary risk. Surely there is an equally good name to be found?
Be unique and memorable
While SEO is important, do not let that be the sole determining factor in your choice of business name. Competitive keywords are difficult to rank for and business names that are based on keywords are generally bland and uninteresting. Using content to rank for SEO is better strategy than compromising on a business name for the sake of SEO.
Be unique. Use taglines that help people remember and recognise you. Good business names last the distance. Choose one that is meaningful and memorable.