So you’ve done all the baking and decorating classes, you’ve Googled “how to set up a cake business” about a million times, you’ve started to take better pictures of the cakes you’re making and you’re daydreaming about walking into your boss’s office and yelling, “you can take this crappy job and shove it!” You might have even researched what the cottage laws are in your state or what your local Council needs for you to get registered. You’re starting to maybe, kinda, perhaps, aaallllmmmooosssttt think you would like to open a baking business.
First things first, what the heck are you going to name this new business of yours?
I follow hundreds of cake businesses on social media, and over the years I’ve looked at hundreds of cake company websites. I love reading the “about us” page or the reasons why people have called their companies what they’ve called them and I must admit there are several which have made me shake my head and wonder what they were thinking. Your business name is part of your branding and part of how you communicate to your clients, so it’s pretty important to get it right.
Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to naming your bakery or cake business:
- Research what names are already being used, especially in your local area. You really don’t want customers to get confused with the other companies whose names are close to yours (and unscrupulous people will happily take advantage of that confusion!)
- Think about the story behind the name. Childhood nicknames, names of the city you grew up, the names of your pets, something to do with your hobbies – all of these are great sources of inspiration for your business name and can make it memorable to customers. If you’ve got a good (and short) story attached to your business name, potential customers are much more likely to remember it.
- Consider the option of using your own name, but only if you customise it in some way AND you’re planning on being the face of your business from here on in. There are probably a lot of “Cakes by Jane” out there, so a variation on your name would be a better choice: “Cakes by Jane Smith,” “Cakes by Janey” or “Jane’s Creations.” If you intend to sell your business I would strongly recommend against using your own name as your business name. Also, don’t use your own name unless you are happy being the face of it. In the cake industry it can be very hard to sell a business called “Sarah’s Sweets” if Sarah no longer owns the place and she’s the one who invented the signature style. Can you imagine anyone owning Ron Ben Israel cakes OTHER than Ron Ben Israel?
- Check the online availability of that name ahead of time, both with the correct authorities and on the internet. BEFORE you settle on a business name, check if you can use it and that it’s available on various platforms. It’s no fun to have to add random, different stuff to the end of your business name because someone got there before you. If nothing else it causes confusion. If you really want it, come up with an short version which you use for online accounts (eg the one for Business of Baking is ‘bizbake’.)
- Consider names which can spawn other names – eg products or ideas which can be named in the same vein. Suppose your company is called ‘Sweet Pops Bakery’ – you might have bigger products called “Daddy Pops” and kid-sized ones called “Baby Pops” and so on (that’s a super dorky example but you get my point.)
- Be witty or fun or clever, but not so much that it makes people think, “What the…?” If you’re the only one that gets the joke, it’s not that great of a joke.
- Road test the name – there might better variations you have not thought of, or the name gives an impression you didn’t realise it would (‘Fat Lady Cakes’ might sound cute to you and conjure up images of Mrs Claus baking gingerbread men, but someone else might get an entirely different image to mind.)
- Come up with random spellings that nobody will remember – “Kupkakez” “Kakes” “Bakez” “Phat Cakery” “Swee-Tee” “Mackeyroons” “Bake-a-rhee” and the rest of that ridiculous spelling stuff: NO. Just NO. It’s hard to remember (and therefore hard to find) and you’ll forever be spelling it to people and explaining the spelling. (Do I really need to say it….? Ain’t nobody got time for dat!)
- Put specific products in the name if you make or plan to make more than that one thing. “Jennifer’s Cakepops” isn’t going to get many requests for chocolate covered oreos or cake decorating classes because the name is too specific to a single kind of product. Plus, bakery items are very trendy, so your great idea for a “the awesome whoopie pie company” name might not be the best idea two years from now. Think ahead a little bit.
- Use overly common words for the whole name. Using ‘sweet’ or ‘love’ or ‘cake’ and words like that are okay, but if your entire business name is a string of common bakery words, you’re going to get confused with too many other companies and nothing about it will be memorable.
- False advertise – don’t call yourself vegan, gourmet, organic or couture if that’s not your thing or that’s not your style.
- Use words which, when read quickly, can be confused with other words (especially inappropriate words)…which brings me too…
- Don’t use inappropriate words. I’m all for funny or witty names, but “B*&tch; Cakes” or “Kiss my Sweet A$$ Cupcakes” is …NO. Just….NO. Don’t alienate people before you’ve even started.
Picking a name for your cake business idea is a really important step because it sets the tone for all the things which come after that. In short, just remember that there are a lot of companies in this industry at the moment, and a lot of very similar sounding names. Your aim is to be memorable and descriptive without having to resort to crazy tactics like calling yourself the “Komplete-lee Fhantahstic Kahke Khompanee.”
Need more help getting started with your cake business? Check out my online class: How to Start A Cake Business.