Naming your business: unique name vs generic name

Am contemplating the best name for a graphic design studio, but am stuck at a crossroads.

Should I try to be as original as possible and go with a name a bit more abstract and unique in the field, where I wouldn’t possibly get mistaken for another design studio in another part of the world?

or

Should I go with a name which is possibly also being used by another design business and but is maybe more descriptive of what the business does. For example these are all businesses called ‘Grafik’ (which as some of you will know is also the name of a design magazine):





What do you think is the better way to name your design business?

I started mine in the time when every one was using ‘worthy’, self-conscious designer names and I wanted something deadpan and anti-establishment. I thought about the most unglamorous thing I could think of (without going to my usual haunt – the gutter) and sprouts sprung to mind. That’ll do. Sprout; about as unpretentious as you can get. Only later did I realise all connotations of sprouting and growth (I’m not very bright), but it was too late by then, so it stuck.

Personally, I prefer names that aren’t too over-sell. Then again, my comments have to be tempered for Brit sensibilities and the deadpan, self-effacing thing may not go down well in your market.

Personally, I’d avoid graphik-, graphix-type names. A bit too over-done and low-brow – depends on the market sector you want, of course. No point going for a High brow, Pentagram / Landor Associates feel if you are going to be working for local shops, or Designers Republic, if you’re clients are conservative.

What sort of work will you be doing for what sort of clients?

What’s wrong with Pluto? It’s fairly neutral and can be branded almost any way you like.

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The trend of misspelling things has (hopefully) passed.
Grafik is annoying.

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Yeah. Any sane person would use “Grafix”.

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Obviously I didn’t read @sprout’s reply carefully.

My business name is based on my name. Nothing original about that as there are plenty of Lastname Designs out there. Some of the studios that use a principal’s name have grown well beyond just the principal. My business has always been just me. I think if you ask my clients, they’d say the only time they use my business name is when they write checks.

That said, it was many, many years ago when I went into business. Things have changed dramatically. Back then, running a graphic design business was legitimate. Not that you can’t have a business these days that focuses solely on graphic design, but so many new business that I see are more along the lines of “digital agencies” and graphic design is just one of the services offered. In that case, Lastname Design is somewhat limiting. So consider the services you offer the image you want to project.

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I never did come up with a thought-through business name. Then again, I never really tried since my freelance work was just a sporadic thing that, over time, became a regular side business and, now, my main thing. At some point, I realized that my given name had also become my business name, so I stuck the word “Design” at the end and registered it as an LLC. I’ve been using it ever since.

It’s not the slightest bit creative, but it works. I suppose if I had planned it out from the beginning, I would have come up with something along the lines of what @sprout was saying — unpretentious, understated, spelled correctly but still a bit unexpected.

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Another classic case of the work makes the brand, not the other way around.

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@sprout That all makes a lot of sense, am pretty keen to pick something that will be timeless rather than something trendy that will date.

In terms of the type of work I’ll be doing: am wanting to logo and identity design for small-medium businesses and probably some web stuff. The my target demographic would be 30-50 year old business owners.

Regarding using Pluto as a business name - I’d actually never considered that (literally came up with the username when I joined here!), but it could be a good option. I really like the idea of something concise and easy to remember.

@Steve_O Yeah there’s always the classic first name/last name idea or even initials. My only resevations with this are if I later on want to sell the business and also the fact that my name is also the same name as a famous person (could maybe use that to my advantage :laughing:)

@Just-B Am loving the idea of rolling with something simple that’s understated.

Do you think there’s any value in using a name with a design/branding connotation, like these ones for example (they’re existing businesses):

Younique
Blind
Ink Visible
Concept Store
Seachange Studio
Unordinary

Names like Ink Visible and Younique make my toes curl a little. They are like business-name dad-jokes.

In terms of whether you use a design / brand connotation, you may have to when choosing a url. Something like Pluto.com will be long gone. You could go for one of the newer TLDs, like .studio, etc.

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There is a lot to think about when it comes to a business name. What will it say to your audience? Will it be easy to remember? Will it be easy to pronounce? Is the URL available? I talked about this not that long ago. You might find these points helpful.

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Hi Pluto,
Must use the name which is unique but not the one which is abstract. The name should be as reflect your brand fully. It should be simple, brief, and comprehensive. Your brand name is your identity so special care should be taken while choosing the name.
Moreover, the name may resemble in one or two words with others but add something before or after the similar (base name) name to keep it unique and impressive.
Hope it will be helpful.
Thanks

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@sprout The more I think about it, the more I think you could be right about Pluto. It’s simple, understated and will be unique from anyone else in my area. It looks like there are other small design business using the same name:


@creativeboost Those are very good points, will totally check out your podcast about it. :call_me_hand:

@Naheed You’re so right about it being my brand. Maybe I should do an exercise as if I were doing for a client, only ask myself the questions about what I want it to say and how it to look?

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It is very unlikely, unless you go for something totally obscure, that someone else, somewhere in the world is not going to have the same name. The brand packaging company (beautifully photographed though it is) is quite different to you, I’d imagine. The Athens one, you really don’t need to worry about – unless people think it is you, then you’d have a lot to worry about.

Seriously though, sprout is hardly unique and it has never affected me (and… no, none of the results that come up on google are me! I have still never found the time to put a website together.)

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Naheed — You’re right as well. Sprout sounds like a great name for a landscape design company.
PLUTO — Consider whether you want to pursue conservative or “edgy” clients (or both). The more outlandish your name sounds, the more creativity your potential customers will think you possess. Just something to think about. I wish you the best of success! Go for it, Young’un!

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I also think that Pluto might be a good choice. It’s easily memorable, familiar yet “outlandish”, and it’s sweet and short.

But while Pluto might already hit all the marks, you should most definitely go through a thorough branding exercise for your own brand. Might even make a case study out of it to show your clients how you’d approach their branding projects as well. :wink:

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For me, that would be a little too obvious and unsubtle. Then again, as I have mentioned before, a lot depends on cultural sensibilities. For Brits, to call a garden design company ‘sprout’ would read as almost a bit cringey.

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