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Phil Bray: Choosing the right name for your advice business



Bray-PhilA simple three stage process to get the right name for your brand

Two of the hardest things I have ever had to do are think of my children’s names.

The responsibility is huge; those babes-in-arms will have to live with the decision for a lifetime. Fortunately, neither Will nor Aimee seem unhappy with their name (although, I am not sure they are so content with their middle names but that is a different story entirely).

The naming dilemma is something any adviser branching out on their own faces. For some, it will come naturally. For others, it will take far longer to find the right fit.

We struggled when planning The Yardstick Agency but then I came across the following Steve Jobs quote: “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected”. Once I read that, I knew we had cracked it.

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If you are starting a new business, or indeed rebranding an existing practice, I recommend approaching the exercise in three stages.

Step one: Build a shortlist of names

Think about the style of name you want. For example, should it:

  • Include your name or a geographical location?
  • Be descriptive of your beliefs and values?
  • Be abstract?

Next, you should think about whether you want to include a descriptor. For example:

  • Independent financial adviser
  • Wealth management
  • Financial planner
  • Financial planning

You get the idea. Whatever you choose must accurately reflect your business.

There is nothing to say you must add a descriptor; however, it does have benefits, such as helping you pass the “split-second test” online and aiding your search engine optimisation efforts.

Once you have your shortlist you can move onto the next stage.

Stage two: What is available and achievable?

Each name on your shortlist then needs to be checked against Companies House, a register of domains, such as 123-Reg, and key social media channels.

Ideally, you should choose a company name you can mirror exactly in the domain and in key social media accounts.

This process will probably cut your shortlist dramatically. The remaining names should then be tested by running online searches (start with Google but do not forget other search engines) to see what appears.

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It is crucial that you dominate the first page for searches run on your brand. These searches will tell you how easy or otherwise that will be to achieve. It might be harder than you think, which is an argument against choosing very generic names. If the search results page is dominated by large organisations or Google Ads you would rather not be associated with, it is probably a sign you should strike that option from your shortlist.

You can now take your shortlist to stage three.

Stage three: Testing

Your remaining names now need to be tested on a group of your target clients.

Remember, this might not be the same as your friends and family. It is all too easy to listen to the opinions of those happy to lend them but ensure that you put your target clients first.

A final word

Branding is more than just your logo. It is a combination of your visual identity, your values and, of course, your name. With this in mind, the designer who will be producing your branding should be involved in the naming process. Good ideas often come from the most unexpected of places and their thoughts on a name will be invaluable.

To conclude, your name should:

  • Accurately reflect your business
  • Be easy to find and identify online
  • Connect with your audience and engage them

By following this process, you will produce a name that both you and your clients are happy to be associated with for many years to come.

Phil Bray is founder and director at The Yardstick Agency


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  1. Naming a business is ruddy hard and some people don’t have the creativity or courage to use something unique and quirky. I remember spending weeks on our name, but for those that struggle I know the chaps at Novanym offer business names, a logo and a web addresses as a bundle ( Might help those that are struggling to settle on something.

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