You’ve already determined that you make some of the best puff pastry-based passed appetizers in town, and you’ve done your market research and identified the need for a new catering business in your community. You’ve roughed out a business plan, and the numbers seem to be holding together, so far. The only thing that separates you and your kitchen from catering glory can be one of the hardest things to come up with: A name for your business.
Sometimes, sitting down in your thinking chair to come up with a brilliant idea just isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need some guidance to help get you started. And that’s why we’re here to help, with these 12 ideas designed to inspire your imagination and get your creative juices flowing.
12 Ways to Conjure an Amazing Name for Your Catering Business
Make it memorable, and maybe even a little weird.
Though it may be tempting to name your catering business after yourself, brainstorm some unusual ideas. Write everything down, including the names that don’t seem like they could possibly work. Make a list of potential business names that are unique, and may even include a pun or a play on words. Customers are likelier to remember a name that seems fresh and new, than yet another variation on “Sally’s Sandwiches.” Don’t be afraid to consider ideas that may seem too “out there” on first blush…you may learn to love them, or they may lead you to think of other, safer variations.
Remember, your customers need to be able to spell it.
It may be tempting to name your business “Phat Phoodstuffs” (or, okay, maybe not), but this name is problematic from a marketing perspective. Weird spellings may look cool on paper, but your potential customers need to be able to punch your business name into Facebook or a search engine, and find it right away. Besides, so-called “cool” spellings are SO 1998.
Keep it short and sweet.
Which is an easier catering business name for your customers to remember: “Kelly’s Catering Connection and Affordable Artisinal Soup Emporium,” or the simple, one-word “Fresh”? Keep your name short and sweet, and it’s easier to pronounce and likelier to stick in your customers’ heads. This can be challenging, since most one-word domain names have already been taken, but the general rule of thumb is to try and keep your name short and simple.
Make sure it makes sense…or makes no sense at all.
This one comes down to personal preference, and you can make an argument either way. You can pick a name for your catering business that makes no sense at all (think Yahoo, GoDaddy, or Lycos), because it is likely to be completely unique and very brandable. Or you, can choose a name that more explicitly describes what you do (like “Cathy’s Cupcakes”). Nonsense words may be initially harder to market, but may ultimately develop into stronger, more memorable brands.
Make sure the name is available across all marketing channels.
You’ll want to make sure that the name you’ve dreamed up isn’t in use by any other companies, even if they’re operating in a completely different industry. Check to make sure that the name you want to use is available across all marketing channels, including a domain name, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles. Even if you start your business with no plans to use these channels, it’s best to secure your name now, in case your marketing needs change in the future. Check to see if there is already a business operating in your state with your chosen name on your local State Incorporation site, check Network Solutions for the domain name, and the U.S. Patent Office for any existing trademarks.
Use care when picking out a domain name.
If you want to name your business “Heavenly Hand Pies,” but the domain name is already taken, you may be tempted to try a variation, like “HeavenlyHandPiesOnline.com”. Don’t. First of all, that’s a terrible name, but more importantly, customers will tend to think that the “Online” portion of the domain is actually a part of your business name. While you’re in the domain-registering mood, you might as well also lock down the additional extensions for the domain name, including .org .net and .biz extensions, to ensure that no one else tries to use them.
Make sure the name you choose isn’t too specific.
Don’t paint yourself into a corner with your business name, in case your focus changes and your business evolves in the future. While “Simply Meatballs” may seem like a great name, what if you want to sell something other than meatballs at some point?* Similarly, it may be tempting to include the name of where you’re operating geographically…but what if you relocate, or expand into additional markets?
*I’ve run into this issue with the name of my food truck, called “‘Wich, Please.” I think it’s a great name…unless I want to someday sell something other than sandwiches.
Try out your name on potential customers.
Skip asking your friends and family about whether or not they like your business name; they’re going to be so preoccupied with supporting you in your new venture, that they may not be able to weigh in objectively on your business name. Ask potential customers, instead; they’ll be able to tell you if your name makes sense and is memorable.
Make sure your name reflects what you do.
This one may seem obvious, but…your business name needs to actually indicate what your business does. After all, while “Surelock Homes” might be a great name for a locksmith, it’s not going to be any good for a caterer that specializes in corporate events.
Keep it closer to “A” than “Z.”
This is kind of an old-school trick, from back in the days where people got all of their information from the Yellow Pages, but it’s worth keeping in mind. In any directory, either on or offline, business listings are often presented alphabetically. That’s why every town seems to have businesses named “AAA Insurance, Inc.,” along with their competitor, “AAAA Insurance, Inc.”
Harness the power of the Internet.
If you end up really stuck when trying to dream up a name for your catering business, turn to the Internet for help. There are tons of name generators out there, that will help you not just brainstorm new ideas, but will also help you see at a glance, if a domain name is available. Online forums are also great places to brainstorm with other entrepreneurs, to help find the perfect name. Finally, you can also consider a paying company to name your business for you, though starting your catering a business a million dollars in debt probably isn’t a great way to get started. ;)