Stuck for a name or tagline for your wellness business? Give this five-minute exercise a try.
Create three lists of words and concepts, with at least 25-30 terms on each list. One list should describe your audience, one list should describe your service, and one list should capture the emotional payoff of your product or service.
For example, if you’re starting a prenatal imaging business, you might put the following words on your lists:
- little ones
Service, Product or Program
- imaging photo
Then experiment with different combinations of words.
This should get some ideas flowing, and you should have more than one idea by now. Then the task becomes picking the right one.
Remember: the ultimate combination of your name and tagline should capture all three areas: audience, product or service, and emotion.
Picking a Good Name and Tagline
Taglines and names work together to convey an overall message. For example, you can choose a name that conveys more specifically what you’re doing (like Prenatal Preview). Then you might not choose to use a tagline.
Alternatively, you might choose a name that doesn’t spell out WHAT you’re doing, but sounds intriguing enough that people will look more closely.
If you go with this alternative, we suggest using a tagline to explain more fully what you do – for example: if you choose the business name “For The Joy Of It”, a tagline that says “prenatal previews” will explain more clearly what you do.
Frequently Asked Questions About Naming Your Business
1. How important is picking the right name?
Actually, we believe the most important thing is to avoid picking the wrong name. True, you have a great opportunity when choosing a name to pick something that really reflects your business. But it’s not the most important thing on your to-do list.
Consistently delivering services that make a difference in your customers’ lives will always overcome a less-than-inspired business name. And a great name can’t overcome poor sales, marketing and day-to-day operations.
We disagree with one internet-based business advisor, who tells clients that the right name “makes or unmakes your business and your personal well-being.”
Our take: as long as you don’t fall into any of the traps we mention below, you’ll do fine.
2. How should we choose a name?
A good business name supports your key marketing messages to your customers.
Start by brainstorming:
- What are twenty or thirty words that happy customers might use to tell friends about your business? If you’re on a roll, keep listing words—more is better!
- What are the five to ten major benefits your business provides to customers and clients?
- What are the five to ten key things that make your business different in the eyes of your customers?
- What words would colleagues, friends, and family use to describe the business as they understand it?
Just jot them down without stopping to evaluate the pros and cons of using these words in an actual name. If you’re on a roll, feel free to list more than twenty! Put these words and phrases on your audience, service and emotional payoff lists.
Then start looking at which word combinations might lend themselves to a business name. Check your ideas against the names of similar businesses
3. Should we use search keywords or other common terms?
Do not construct your business name exclusively from generic search keywords or extremely common phrases and words. We had a weight loss program client whose name was along the lines of “Healthy Lifestyles.” Both words are so common that their own brand name never appeared on Google’s first page of search results! It definitely made it harder for prospects and even current customers to find their website, and it complicated their Google Ads campaigns as well.
If you use a common term, pair it with one or more distinctive terms as we discuss in Section 5.
4. Should we name it after the owners or founders?
If you’re very well-known within your field or community, naming your business after yourself can make sense.
Examples include Magic Johnson 24 Hour Fitness locations, the Atkins nutritional business and Dr. Weil-branded supplements. A local sports celebrity might capitalize on his name recognition if he planned to start a sports training program in his hometown.
Otherwise, we usually recommend a descriptive or evocative name. Note that many municipalities and states require sole proprietors doing business under names other than their own to file a DBA (doing business as) notice. Check with your attorney.
If you do name your business after the owners or founders, consider pairing their names with descriptive terms, especially if their name recognition is local or regional, not national. Lucille Roberts had little name recognition outside of New York. So Lucille Roberts Fitness For Women was a good way to combine local name recognition with a description of the business that would be meaningful outside the region.
5. Should we name it after our products or services?
Descriptive names are often appealing to consumers. Examples include Weight Watchers, General Nutrition Center, and Castle Heights Bikram Yoga. Customers may not know what Krav Maga is, but calling your business Krav Maga Self-Defense Studio, for example, would immediately connect with prospects looking for self-defense training or martial arts.
Evocative names that inspire an emotional reaction can also be powerful. Curves, Miracles Fitness, and Ultimate U Health & Fitness are good examples.
Don’t inadvertently limit your focus. For example, if your business currently offers weight loss programs, but may expand someday to include general fitness, a name emphasizing nutrition may limit you later.
Generally, avoid vague, generic, or obscure names that don’t click with anyone. For example, the name Blue Bead for a fitness franchise is unique (good!) but doesn’t convey much. Combining it with a descriptive terms would be a better choices: Blue Bead Fitness (or Health, or Wellness, or Thrive, etc.).
6. What else should we look out for?
- Make sure that obvious abbreviations of your business name aren’t inappropriate.
- Avoid names that could be confused with competitors or other unrelated businesses.
- Avoid names that may be unintentionally suggestive.
- Pick a name that’s easy to spell and pronounce.
- Choose short words over long words – easier to read and remember, fits on a business card better, cheaper storefront signage.
7. Should we use invented words in the name?
The upside: invented words are unique. The downside: it’s hard to come up with a new word that sounds good. And invented words don’t convey anything to the consumer.
They’re a good choice, though, if you’re in a field where the obvious names are already taken. They can also be a good choice if you deliberately want to avoid a name that might narrow your business focus.
Consider pairing them with instantly meaningful terms as we describe above in the Krav Maga and Blue Bead examples.
8. Should we use puns, or cute, trendy and/or non-traditional or humorous references?
Generally, no — only if they’re in line with the overall tone of your business. Most health, fitness and wellness businesses want to emphasize credibility above all. And even if your business has a quirky personality today, you may evolve away from that over time.
On the other hand, Why Weight, a Curves-like weight-loss franchise, used a pun that mirrors the hesitation many potential customers probably feel. It’s a pun, but it also feels like an evergreen message that probably resonated with their prospects. (Apparently not enough, though, because that franchise no longer exists as far as we can tell.)
9. What if the name we want is not available on the Internet?
Ideally, the name you choose will also be available for registration as a .com domain on the Internet.
If not, it’s often possible to obtain a domain registration for a shortened or slightly modified version of your business name.
For example, when we first wrote this article, people interested in the Body Gem metabolic testing device might logically have visited bodygem.com to get more info. But at the time, that site was actually a body-piercing business. The Body Gem testing device site was actually at healthetech.com. Registering a domain like bodygemhealth.com and forwarding it to healthetech.com probably would have been smart.
In the Why Weight example above, a group of bariatric (weight loss) surgeons owns the whyweight.com domain. That was a potential problem for the Why Weight franchise name.
10. Do we need to do anything legally to register our business name?
Yes. Different states have different restrictions on business names and different requirements for registering a business name. And you can also federally trademark a business name. Consult an attorney with experience in corporate formation to make sure that the name you like is a name you can legally use and protect.
Filing fees with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office run several hundred dollars. Expect to pay an attorney around $500 to fill out the paperwork if you’re not comfortable completing it online. Then sit back and wait…because the USPTO generally takes about 18 months to process new trademark applications!
Creating A Tagline For Your Wellness Business
First, let’s start with the purpose of a tagline:
Your goal in creating a tagline is to give people a reason to think “hmmm…this may be for me…I’d like to find out more” (because that’s the very first step in EVERY sales process for every business).
That’s why we like taglines that are inspired by what clients have actually said – because those taglines are likelier to resonate with potential new customers. Don’t focus on taglines YOU think sound catchy and cute. Instead, think about the positive comments that your best customers use when they’re raving about their experiences with your fitness business. Try to select from their words rather than dreaming up your own.
The biggest risk is picking a tagline that actually turns people off (they think “Yuk, that’s not for me), or confuses them (“Huh? Whatever…”), or requires them to think (“I don’t understand that”), or simply doesn’t register with them at all.
Remember that typically where you use a tagline is underneath your name or the name of your business on a business card, or as a second and smaller line on your business signage.
People will literally glance at it for only a second or two. They’re almost never going to look at it intently and give it a lot of thought.
How to pick an effective tagline:
- Are immediately meaningful
- Avoid pushing potentially negative emotional buttons
- Sound authentic and sincere in normal conversation
- Pique interest in a way that is relevant to your business
- Avoid the use of distracting or weird words, odd spelling and punctuation, etc.
- Are very short
- Add to your business name, rather than duplicating the concepts
It’s a good idea to bounce the one(s) you like best off a few people who resemble likely customers as much as possible. Everyone will have an opinion, so don’t let that get you into a swirl of trying to make everyone happy.
What you’re really looking for when you try it out on people are 1) immediate reactions – what does this mean to you? And 2) unintended meanings or interpretations. Plus sometimes they’ll come up with a really good variation on one of your ideas.
The ultimate test for your tagline:
Does it feel comfortable and good to YOU when you say it out loud to complete strangers?
It should fit naturally in a sentence without sounding silly, ridiculous, or just meaningless.
For example, Radial’s tagline is “business expertise for the wellness industry.” If someone asks us what Radial does, it sounds natural and conversational to say “We provide business expertise for the wellness industry”. That just leads naturally to questions along the lines of “Oh, tell me more…”.
On the other hand, it would probably sound pretty silly if our tagline was “Powering the wellness industry to success”. Because if someone asked us what Radial does, we’d never say that “We power the wellness industry to success.” It sounds made-up —and it doesn’t really mean anything.
Avoid duplicating words in both your business name and your tagline. If your business name includes words that are very descriptive of your business, then you definitely don’t also need to have it in a tagline. For example, if your business name is Joe’s Personal Training Studio, you don’t need a tagline that says “personal training.”
Avoid words and concepts that people don’t use every day or aren’t likely to know. The one exception would be if you want to attract only those people who ARE familiar with the concept. For example, if your yoga studio focuses on “hot” yoga, then using Bikram in the name is fine. If you want to attract yoga novices, they won’t appreciate the different yoga styles. Similarly, new exercisers might not know the term “cardio”. They may confuse it with cardiac, as in “cardiac rehab” – a very different message!
Avoid “fluffy” taglines that could mean almost anything. If your tagline could work just as well for a wedding planner, kids’ birthday parties, sleep therapist, etc., as for a health and wellness business, toss it and keep working on alternatives.
Avoid taglines that reinforce stereotypes that can work against you. For example, if you want to attract the unfit, using words that evoke bodybuilding or super-fitness might not be effective. Medical references aren’t usually as appealing to customers in their twenties.
Avoid salacious or suggestive taglines unless that’s a key focus of your business. A suggestive tagline could be OK if, for example, you specialized in hypnotherapy for problems with intimacy and sexuality. Otherwise avoid. And remember that you don’t want your customers to be embarrassed if someone they know sees them walking into your office.
Avoid extremely lengthy taglines.