So you've decided to go into business for yourself. You've got the plan, you've got the drive. Now, what to call it? Choosing a good name has no universal rules, but it helps to consider the product or service, the image you want to portray, your target market and your advertising strategy among other things.
If your business is a franchise like Taco Bell or Midas Mufflers, choosing a name for the ownership company is not really a marketing issue. It's probably not going to be on any of your advertising material, so have fun with it. below are things to consider for the independent business owner.
Of course, it may be good idea to mention your product or service in the company name. In the case of our graphic design/printing company, when we first started out, our primary business was graphic design and we operated out of our house, on Easy Street. Hence the name; Easy Street Designs. It also helped that the term "Easy Street" is also a common term used to convey a stress free atmosphere, so it still works, even though the shop is no longer located on that street. It also lent itself well to a catchy tag line; "Make it Easy!" We probably would not have gone with Hayes Drive Designs, had we lived there.
Some businesses like real estate, mortgage or insurance are highly competitive as well as highly regulated, and there are not a lot of barriers to entry. That means the primary difference between one firm and another lies in the characteristics of the agents or individuals who work there. This is why so many people in those industries feature their photo on their advertising. Your main marketing asset, over the long term is your reputation. Consider attaching your name to the company. Putting your name on the line can inspire confidence in the mind of a potential customer. Real life examples would be Harris Group Realty or K.W. Schramek Landscaping Material (another commodity type industry).
If you expect the vast majority of your customer base to be from a tight geographical area or neighborhood, incorporating a regional name might be the way to go. Something like The Widefield Bar and Grill (fictional) might be a good way to go if you're planning to cater to local folks and don't expect a lot of people to travel 20 miles to stop in for a beer and some curly fries. It also immediately tells people where you are as well as what you do.
Atmosphere is another consideration. In a business like home decor or example, a name that brings to mind images of the products you offer can be helpful. Examples might be "Grandma's Attic" or "Future Shock" (both fictional, as far as I know).
You can be more creative if you have a big enough advertising budget. Company names like Google, Amazon, Xerox or Yahoo don't tell you anything about what they do. They spent billions of dollars educating people though, and now their names are nearly synonymous with their product. If you don't have billions of dollars, you might want to go another way.
Using the alphabet may still be effective if your main source of advertising is an alphabetized directory. This still may be true of some industries. However, with the rise of Internet advertising, where searches are based more on relevance than alphabetical order, something like AAA Gromets (fictional, I think) may not be as attractive as it once was.
Avoid the inside joke or personal reference that most people outside your family and circle of friends aren't going to get. I'm sure you love your dog, but unless his name is "Bear Claw", naming your doughnut company after him probably isn't a good strategy. Even if his or her name is "Bear Claw" using the dog's image on your advertising is likely just going to leave potential customers scratching their heads.
A good name choice can be very helpful. However, your long term success is going to depend on execution. Your name can help you get people in the door, on the phone or to your website, but quality, service, value and ethics are what's going to bring them back.