How to Name a Business – Helpful Tips for Choosing Your Startup Name

Developing a company name is often one of the first steps entrepreneurs take when starting a new business. As such, it can be one of the most important pieces of the startup puzzle, but it can be as daunting as it is essential.

Your business’s name serves as one of the most significant aspects of your company brand. Choosing a name that is clear, unique and powerful requires you to consider many factors. This decision should not be taken lightly, as a company name serves as the face of your business. This name will go on all marketing, advertising, and branding materials, like business cards, logos, and tv, print, or online advertisements.

Helpful Tips for Choosing Your Business or Startup Name

Your new company’s name can make or break your business venture. Consider the following when looking to choose the right name for your business:

1. Choose a name that is memorable, has a straightforward spelling, and sounds good when said aloud.

Your name will likely be part of your business logo, so make sure it is something that both looks and sounds good. You should choose a name that you like, that is easy to pronounce, and that you don’t mind saying several times daily. Good business names are short, memorable, pronounceable, easy to spell, descriptive, and, ideally, not hyphenated (this can confuse people trying to find you on the web).

If your business chooses to run digital, television, radio, or other advertisements, people will need to be able to understand and remember your name without difficulty. Therefore, make sure the name is something that has a nice ring to it. Alliterative names such as Best Buy, PayPal, Krispy Kreme, or Constant Contact are easy for consumers to recognize and remember. This concept is known as “high-recall branding.”

2. Consider using a free business name generator to brainstorm name ideas.

Can’t decide whether you want to use real words or modern-sounding fake words in your new business name? Many business owners rely on websites which offer business name generators. For example, with this Shopify tool, you can enter a word or phrase and see what names the website recommends. The Oberlo business name generator and Naminum are also popular resources.

While you will need to check all names generated through online websites to ensure that they are unique and not already registered at the USPTO, online business name generators can be a great idea for people who need help jump-starting their brainstorming process. The best part is that many online business name generators are free, so developing an array of unique business names this way will cost you nothing.

3. Do a simple web search for each name on your list.

Before you name your business, you’ll want to make sure that the name you have in mind isn’t already taken. We suggest that you do a simple online search for your desired name to determine what brands already exist with that combination of words. The vast majority of businesses have an online presence, so Googling each name idea is the fastest way to determine if another business already goes by your desired name.

4. Make sure you can trademark the name.

Business owners should ensure that they can trademark their business name with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). To do this, business owners should perform a trademark search at the USPTO website’s trademark database and then apply for a trademark. Filing for a trademark for your company’s name is a relatively simple process. The application can be completed in less than two hours, without the help of a lawyer. Trademarking your business’s name will help you avoid legal battles and give your business protection under the United States’ trademark laws.

5. See what domain names are available.

In most cases, you will want to include your business name in your company website’s domain name, so make sure you do some careful domain name sleuthing before you commit to a company name. You will want a website web address or URL that is easy to type and easy to remember. You can use the website GoDaddy to look up domain name availability for each candidate name for your business.

If none of your potential business names are available to register as a domain name, you can come up with a clever domain name that either has a common variable attached to it or one that includes only the partial business name. For example, if you are a web consulting firm named “New York Consulting”, and newyorkconsulting.com is taken, you can consider an alternate site name such as newyorkconsultinggroup.com or nyconsulting.com. The most important thing is that your domain name is free of spelling errors and is easy to communicate, as you do not want to confuse your customers or send them to a different website.

A second consideration when checking for domain availability is the use of the .com domain name versus .net, .org, or other available domain extensions. Websites that end with .com are considered more reliable and reputable than other types of domain names, so if your desired .com domain name is taken, you may want to get creative and look for alternatives.

Finally, if your desired domain name has already been acquired, you may want to consider buying the domain from the current owner.

6. Ensure that you can claim matching social media handles.

Your company’s presence on major social media platforms is very important. Many companies utilize social media in their business plan for advertising to and communicating with current and potential customers. If you plan to have a significant social media presence, make sure to scope out available social media handles and names for your desired business name. Of course, if a social media handle you were eyeing is not available, you can come up with creative ways of getting around this by devising a variation of your business name for your social media presence that aligns with your brand.

7. Register your business name with your state authority.

You will need to register your business with state agencies where your business is physically located and where you conduct business activities. While some states allow you to register your business online, other states require in-person or mail-in registrations. The details vary by state, but you will likely need to register your name and type of business entity with the Secretary of State’s office, a Business Bureau, or the state’s Business Agency.

8. Ask for feedback on your list of name ideas.

Devise a list of up to a dozen names and run them by people you trust – friends, family members, coworkers, etc. You may even want to establish a focus group to discuss your candidate names. You will need to gain feedback from a wide variety of people to ensure that your name is catchy, compelling, conveys the desired meaning, aligns with the company mission, and is not associated with anything bad or negative.

9. Make sure you’ll be happy with your chosen name in the long run.

As the business owner, it’s particularly important that the name you choose for your business is one that you personally like. After all, you’ll be using the name every day, and it will be a reflection of you. While it’s good to solicit feedback from key stakeholders, don’t let others sway your perspective on your business name if you’ve selected one that you feel can resonate with your customers and represent the company well.

Bottom Line

Coming up with a compelling, creative and unique business name is a key part of starting your own business. Your company name will appear on business cards, company logos, and advertisements. As such, your name serves as the face of your company to the world. So, you will want to ensure that you have selected the best name possible.

When ideating names for your business, keep in mind that great company names are easy to spell, pronounce and remember. If you’re having trouble brainstorming, consider using a name generator tool.

Once you come up with a list of potential business names, make sure each name can be trademarked, and begin searching for available website domains and social media handles that align with your desired names.

Feel free to ask your friends and family for advice, but let your intuition as the business owner guide you. Coming up with a great business name can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. With some attention to detail, you can develop a powerful business name with a set of social media and web resources that will help you successfully jump-start your business.

About the Author
Devin Mertz

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