Whether you are just starting out as an independent, opening your first salon, looking to rebrand an existing salon business, the name you choose is extremely important. It’s the thing you will be known for, the thing you want people to talk about, it will be the very first thing a prospective client knows about you and if all goes well, you will be living with this name for a long time.
But where do you start? What makes a good beauty salon name and what makes a bad salon name? What things should you consider when thinking up possibilities . . . . Oh so many questions!
Don’t worry though, sit down, grab a cup of tea/coffee/water (or my wife swears a good G&T helps her think) and keep reading as I walk you through the whole process.
In this article I will take you though:-
- What things you need to bear in mind when coming up with possible names for your beauty salon
- How to come up with great ideas if you are struggling
- How to get feedback on your ideas
and finally . . .
- How to make that final decision using The Salon Business Name Evaluator
Before we carry on . . . something a little different
I know that you are extremely busy, and maybe sitting down and reading my articles isn’t the best way to pass on the information you want. So this week as well as the normal written article, I have turned it in to a video which you can watch below:
I would love to know what you think of the video, any comments be really useful to know if this is something you would like more of. If you have any feedback – good or bad – please leave a comment at the bottom of this article, or on my YouTube page .
Now, back to the article >>>
A word about business names . . .
Don’t let your business name hold you back;
- No matter what name you choose for your salon it probably isn’t going to feel instantly comfortable. Chances are that you are still going to have some niggling doubts in the back of your mind. “Was there a better name?” or “Should I have gone with a different option?” However, if you follow the process in this article you will finish up with a great name that is right for your salon business.
- Names can take a bit of getting used to, so give yourself time to grow in to your new name. It is going to feel strange to start with, anything new always does. Over time, it will begin to feel like it was always the obvious choice and how could you possibly have thought of choosing anything else.
- If you still have doubts about a name, just run with it. It is always more important to get going, start making progress rather than waiting until you are 100% positive about a name. Sure a name is important, which is why I have created this article as a resource, but it is by no means set in stone. It might be that down the line you decide to change your name or rebrand, but there could be any number of reasons for this – don’t let it hold you back.
So let’s get going with finding your new name.
Option One: There are a number of great branding and naming agencies out there who will charge you only $5,000 to $80,000 to help you come up with a name. Oh . . . You don’t have that kind of cash lying about, well then you will need to move on to . .
Option Two: The rest of this article . . .
If you have been dreaming of starting your own salon for sometime then the chances are that you have been calling it something in your mind already. You may already have an idea for a name, or many ideas, or no ideas at all. In any case it is worth having a list of ideas to compare with one another to help you make sure you choose the right one.
Sometimes when trying to think of names yourself you get caught in a certain mode or mind set. If you are anything like me, ideas don’t just flow out like turning on a tap, I need something to help shake them loose first. So if you are stuck for ideas, here are a few suggestions to get you going:-
– Ideas and thoughts probably come to you at the strangest of times, in the shower, on the toilet, queuing for a bus, in the supermarket? Make sure you always have a place to record ideas for names. Whether it’s on your phone, in a notebook or on the back of your hand, just make sure it is always close by so you don’t lose what might turn in to a great idea for a name.
– Brainstorm ideas. If you are rebranding or expanding and/or you already have a team, then get everyone together and start throwing ideas around and write them all down. This works really well as what one person says may not be quite what you are looking for, but it could spark genius in another! If you are just starting and you don’t year have a team yet, then get your friends and family and any existing clients together for some drinks and do the same thing. Sure, you will get some ridiculous suggestions, but somewhere in there might just be gold!
– Survey your audience. If you are already on social media in some way, ask for suggestions from your friends and followers. If you already have a following because of your business then even better. Remember, we are focussing on generating a list of ideas here, so any suggestions will be useful even if they are really bad.
– Start with a logo. You might be more of a visually creative person. You might not have an idea for a name, but you might have some sort of logo or image or selection of logos and images in mind. Sketch these out and hang them up on a wall where you can see them. Just seeing the image might shake loose some ideas.
– Consider using your own name. This is certainly a way to personalise your offering and to make it unique. However, it can feel a little strange to be you AND your business. It will help if your name is a little unusual which will help to make it memorable, however if your name is too unique and difficult to spell or pronounce, then it might not quite work. Either way add it to your list for now, we can evaluate it later.
– Your Location. Another great way to personalise your business is to name it after your location. Mary Portas (Queen of Shops) named one of her most successful ventures simply “32 London Road”. This is ideal, its simple, memorable and has the additional benefit of meaning people will know exactly where you are located. Just do be aware this might cause you a bit of a headache if you need to relocate in the future. Consider instead using a more general location in your name, your town or your suburb maybe. This gives you more options, while still helping your potential customers know where you are located.
– Business Name Generators. If you are REALLY stuck for ideas there are a number of business name generators online which might be useful. You are unlikely to find your dream business name on here, but it might give you that jolt to knock an idea loose from your own mind. Here is a list of the ones I have found that are actually useful:-
Do’s and Don’ts of Business Names (a.k.a. something you may not have thought about)
OK . . . So you now have a bunch of things to do and places to go for ideas to create your list of possible names and The Salon Business Name Evaluator below will help you select the right name for your salon, but there are a couple of things to bear in mind when putting together your short list for names before we get to the evaluation stage.
Your salon’s name is going to be the first thing your potential clients see or hear about you. You want it to stand out and be memorable therefore you want it to be special and if at all possible unique. You could do this by creating an unusual way of spelling a word for your name. There is a gym near where I live called ‘Motivate’ however the name is actually spelt ‘Mo-T-v8’. While this is certainly unique I literally had to stand and look at the name for a good few seconds before I got it. You just try recommending a business to someone if you have no idea what the actual name is!
So having a unique name is a bit of a double edged sword. Sure, its unique and you may stand out, but if people don’t really know what your name is, can’t pronounce it or spell it then this could cause problems.Real Life Example: I have first hand experience of this myself. I have a business called Virtuosity. I thought long and hard to come up with the name, it was unusual, intriguing, inspiring and left options open in case I wanted to diversify . . . I even had a friend of a friend design me a really cool logo. The problem is no one knows how to spell it! When I am on the phone and I give people my email address I would always have to spell it several times. Giving out my website address, I would have to write it down for people. I still like the name, but if I knew then what I know now, I think I would have picked a different name.
Another thing you want to bear in mind for any name you consider is that of trademark infringement. This is a big, potentially scary legal minefield that I am not going to pretend to be an expert in. As with anything like this you should seek proper legal advice if you are unsure. The safest thing to do is steer clear of any name that is already being used by another beauty related business in your area and definitely do not try to copy or imitate another brand.
Feedback (and The Problem with Feedback)
Once you have your list of possible names, whether you have just stuck with with a big long list or you have whittled it down to a short list of five to twenty names, you are probably going to want to run the names past some trusted friends, family or colleagues. There are a couple of things I need to warn you about here:-
Target Audience – It is totally understandable that you want feedback on your ideas for your new business and who better than the people you know, like and trust. However, these people have two potential flaws.
- Consider whether your friends, family and colleagues are your target audience? While it is important that the name you choose appeals to you, it is probably more important that it appeals to your target market. If your friends, family and colleagues are not 20 to 30 somethings working in the city and looking for express treatments to revive and revitalise them and that is who you intend to attract to your business, then their opinions might not necessarily be the ones you are looking for.
- The other problem is that these people know, like and trust you too. If you go to them with a name you are clearly excited about, these people are less likely to give you an honest opinion as they will not want to hurt your feelings.
Vagueness – Feedback on your ideas for business names from people you know can sometimes be a little vague. Again this might because they don’t want to hurt your feelings and give you negative feedback so they just say something like “Hmmm . . . . I don’t know, it sounds OK.” Or “Yeah . . . That sounds really cute!” when you weren’t aiming for ‘cute’. Or even “Yeah . . . It sort of . . . I don’t know [waves hands around in the air], you know?” Vague people! Not helpful.
What you need is some sort of objective method of evaluating your list of names. A tool or exercise that will put each name through its paces, make you think about each one in different ways and finally give you a winner!
Introducing The Salon Business Name Evaluator!
Igor International, a very large and successful branding agency, have a resource available which covers ten categories to help evaluate any business name. Feel free to go and read it, but I should warn you, the short version is 28 pages long and the full version is 122 pages!
Below I have ‘borrowed’ some of their criteria, combined them with my own, updated them and tailored them to the health and beauty industry. I have ended up with the definitive 9 Evaluation Criteria and condensed this all in to a handy one page evaluation tool.
9 Evaluation Criteria
1. Appearance: Put simply, how does the name look? Whether it is on your signage, your stationary, written on documents, in an advert, in an article etc. The name will always be seen in a different context, but the hope is that it will be seen, lots, so looks are important. Things that might help here are visual cues such as alliterations , symmetry of words or letters and the number of letters/words. Consider how often you might have to write the name of your business, as a general rule short names are easier to handle than long wordy names.
2. Sound: Just as much as you want your name to be seen, you also want it to be heard. It isn’t always going to be you saying the name of your business either. Imagine it being said on the radio, by friends over a coffee, at an awards ceremony or trade show. Consider how easy it is to communicate easily from one person to another to facilitate word of mouth promotion. This is the mistake I made with the name of my company ‘Virtuosity’. To save you falling in to the same trap try this: Imagine you are on the phone to someone and your signal isn’t great. Would you be able to communicate the name easily over a poor line, or would you (like me) give up and have to call back later.
3. Distinctiveness: How different is your name to any competition or related business. Distinctiveness is only one aspect of making a name memorable – an important aim – but it is a required element. Ideally your name will be relevant to your business in some way, helping it to be memorable, but not easily confused with another business whether in your industry or not. There is of course a legal issue here as well. If you name your business something too similar to another competitor in your market place then you could get in trouble for trademark infringement so do be careful.
4. Positioning: This has a two fold meaning. Firstly, how relevant to what you do is your name. It doesn’t have to be immediately obvious, but if someone heard your name and then what you do, the two should make some sense together. Secondly, where would your name ‘position’ you in lists. Picture this, I get out my iPhone, open up Google and search for “Beauty Salons in Manchester”. It’s going to give me a list of pages to go to and maybe some options. Both the pages to go to and the options will have to be in some sort of order, usually alphabetical. If you are a new business looking to attract clients who might be looking at an an alphabetical list of salons in your area, would you rather be “Ageless Beauty” or “Zara’s Day Spa”.
5. Depth: Here is where you can get in to the more ‘touchy feely’ elements of your name. How much depth a name has could be viewed in a number of ways. Does it have layer upon layer of meanings? Is it clever with multiple (positive) meanings. Could it be used in a number of ways? Tricky to evaluate . . . But worth thinking about!
6. Feel: As much as is possible to quantify, what sort of ‘feel’ does the name have? Does it have a a welcoming warmth, a feeling of positivity. How does the name make you feel and does this fit with the image for your business.
7. Energy: How vital and lively is the name? Does it have a buzz, an effervescence, maybe a sense of intrigue? Can you imagine it supporting a marketing campaign. If you heard the name on its own, maybe out of context, would you automatically want to know more?
8. The X-Factor: Nope . . . No singing involved, but does the name have that something special. Can you see people gossiping about it around the coffee machine at work, over a drink in a bar – “Hey have you heard about . . . .” The X-Factor is going to be different in every case, but if you can find it then it can be promotional gold.
9. Domain Availability: Let’s face it, this internet thing isn’t going away, so if you want to get found in the real world you are going to need a virtual store front on the internet also. While it isn’t essential, it makes life easier if you can grab the name of your salon as the domain name of your website. There is still some debate over this point, but if at all possible make sure you grab the ‘.com’ version of your name as it is viewed by both Google and people as a signifier of importance.
Now it’s time to start evaluating your names shortlist. You can grab a copy of the worksheet and instructions from the link below, but for now here is a quick run though using the example above.
How to use The Salon Business Name Evaluator
- Write all your shortlisted business names on the sheet in the left hand column
- Score the names in each category; 0 for poor, 5 for excellent. You will have to go with your feeling on some of them, don’t think about your score to hard, just go with your gut.
- Add up all the scores at the end of each row to see which name performed the best
- (Optional) Give the sheet (with the names, but without the scores) to a few trusted friends, colleagues or clients to get their feedback to compare with your own.
- Go forth and start your amazing new salon business, build an empire and make your fortune. When you get there, maybe send out a tweet recommending this article!
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OMG . . . This is the most incredible resource for anyone looking to name their beauty salon business – Check it out now!
I’d love to hear from you and the names you choose using this article and The Salon Business Name Evaluator. Please leave a comment below with the name you decided on and a link to your Facebook or Twitter page and I will visit your and give you a like or a follow.
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