Have you recently started a business, or are you in the process of launching one? Have you chosen a name for your business? If so, how did you go about it?
Your business name leaves a first impression. It gives a customer their first glimpse into your company and what you do. Your business name is passed by word of mouth, and it will last a lifetime, or maybe even longer.
So, needless to say, the name of your business is a pretty crucial element of your overall business plan. To some, it may seem daunting. To others, it may seem like no big deal. However, it is something that you should take very seriously. So, where do you even start?
Here are some simple tips for naming your business.
1. How do you come up with a business name?
There are several questions you can ask yourself that may help you begin to formulate a name.
- What does your business do?
- What is unique about what your business does?
- What type of impression do you want to leave? Classy? Quality? Bargain? Luxury?
Start by brainstorming a list of words that you identify with. Words that either describe your business, your products, or your mission are great to start with. Words that are important to you are also good to put on your list. Some businesses use their names, or names of their children, for example. Once you have several options, you can start putting them together and making combinations of words that might be possibilities. Or, maybe there is a single word that stands out.
Then, narrow it down. I would suggest narrowing it down to two to three options, to begin with. Creating a list of your top three choices will give you more options as you work through the process. It is easier to narrow them down than to come up with more ideas once your head has settled on one.
If you’re having trouble coming up with a list of options, check out this Business Name Generator from Shopify. Not only is it fun to play around with, but it will spur ideas that you had never even thought about — and it’s free.
2. Protecting your business name
You’ll need to do a trademark search, to make sure you aren’t infringing on anyone else’s company name. You can do it yourself by visiting The United States Patent and Trademark Office. I also recommend doing an LLC search to ensure your proposed name isn’t spoken for in your state. It’s also a good idea to do random internet searches using the word(s) you’ve chosen. That way, you can see if anyone else is using the name unregistered (or maybe they’re in the process of registering) or if it’s associated with any other business or activity.
Googling your options will also make you aware of any other connotations or implications your name may have that you haven’t thought of. This can help avoid some negativity later on. It’s also usually a good idea to stay away from acronyms. Often, they can have several meanings, and it makes it more difficult for you to set your business apart from other entities.
You can even go a step further and test it out on Google’s AdWords platform. The ‘find keywords’ tool will list similar search phrases and information on how many searches are happening for those keywords both locally and globally on a monthly basis. This can help you determine whether the name(s) you are considering are different enough from what’s already being used and whether it will be overshadowed by something that’s more popular.
If your budget allows, I highly recommend including an attorney in these searches and starting the process of trademarking your business name. It will pay off in the long run and you’ll be glad you didn’t delay.
3. Final considerations for choosing your company name and logo.
Do you have some ideas you’re fond of? It’s always fun, and educational, to include a focus group and gather some opinions about your options. A graphic designer would be an awesome person to include in your conversations. Do they think your business name will translate easily into an attractive logo? You also might use these items to help eliminate some of your finalists:
- Is the name easy to pronounce?
- Is it relatively short and easy to remember?
- Do you have a catchy slogan in mind that will accompany it well?
- Is it easy to spell?
- Is it descriptive and accurate?
- Do you like it?
Putting in the extra effort upfront will help ensure that you’ve chosen a solid, strong business name that will stand the test of time. It is an investment in your business, and its importance shouldn’t be overlooked. If you are struggling with this part of your business startup, don’t be afraid to seek out a qualified consultant that can help make sense of the process.
I’d love to hear your stories about how and why you chose your particular business name!
Originally published November 5, 2013. Content updated on April 17, 2018.