How to Come Up With a Business Name: Tips to Choose the Perfect Name

Your business name could make or break you.

Coming up with a great business name is no easy task. Many common entrepreneurial instincts when it comes to naming a business, such as puns or mashing words together, are often some of the worst tips for naming your business. Instead, the process of naming your business should be rigorous, thoughtful and go through rounds of feedback, among many other steps before settling on the right name.

Read on to find out how to come up with a business name using these tips.

How to Name a Business: Steps to Choosing the Right Business Name

Figuring out how to name a business is a combination of creative and procedural steps. For instance, brainstorming business names is more creative, whereas searching for business name availability is more on the procedural side. Both the creative and procedural aspects, however, are central to coming up with great business names. It’s the intersection of these two qualities where effective, good business names can be found.

1. Brainstorm Business Names

You’ll want to begin by brainstorming several potential business names, being sure to write them all down. Brainstorming is often easier said than done, so there are strategies and resources you can tap to help you get brainstorming.

Do a Word Dump

To perform a word dump, you should allot yourself a set amount of time and write down anything you can think of related to your business. This includes basic aspects like words and phrases, as well as feelings you want to evoke and actions you want your customers to take. By placing a time limit on your word dump, you’ll get tons of foundational ideas without going down too deep of a rabbit hole.

Use a Thesaurus

After performing a word dump, you can turn to your thesaurus for more ideas. Take some of the words you wrote down from the word dump and use a thesaurus to find other words and phrases that have similar meanings. Like with a word dump, you don’t want to allow yourself to go too deep and come up with a synonym that’s too different or irrelevant from the source word. Setting a 10-15 minute timer can help keep your brainstorming in check.

See: 5 Lessons You’ll Learn When Scaling Your Business

Use a Business Name Generator

There are tons of online business name generators, many of them free. With a business name generator, you may be asked just to enter a word you want in your business name. Others are more complex, asking you to write down what problems your potential customers have and the actions you want them to take.

Here are some free business name generators you can use:

Armed with these simple resources and strategies, you can really get the ball rolling on brainstorming business names.

2. Choose a Unique Business Name

With all your business names created during brainstorming, you now need to narrow down the list of potential names. Settling on a business name takes time and scrutiny, so give yourself a lot of time for this step. One of the most important things you should aim for with your business name is originality. That might seem obvious, but there are many pitfalls and bad practices that entrepreneurs follow when trying to come up with something original. Here are some tips for naming your business:

Avoid Names that Are Hard to Spell

Your potential business names might be clever, intellectual or hip, but if they’re difficult to spell or remember, then that’s a red flag. Hard-to-spell business names can result in potential customers getting lost trying to find your business online. You don’t want to waste time and money constantly correcting a misspelled version of your name, nor should you make it difficult for your customers to give you their business.

Avoid Names That Could Limit Your Business

Your potential business names should have focus, but you also don’t want to choose a name that’s too specific. Business names that are too narrow or specific can limit your business and prevent it from future growth and diversification.

Make Sure the Name Sounds Good

This is such a simple tip yet is too often completely overlooked. Business names written out as text may appear totally find but could sound awkward or are easily mispronounced when said aloud. Run through all your proposed business names and say them out loud to eliminate bad-sounding names. Have friends and family do the same — they might be able to help you spot a flaw in the name you can’t see for yourself if you’re looking at it with rose-colored glasses.

3. Check for Businesses With Similar Names

After you have settled on one or more business names, you’ll need to check their availability. Going through the entire naming process only to find out when registering the business that your name is taken is incredibly frustrating. Here are some basic tips for finding out the availability of your business names.

Do an Internet Search of Your Business Name

Conducting a web search of your proposed business names is an easy first step in checking for its availability. Very often you’ll find another company that is already using your proposed business name. This shouldn’t stop you dead in your tracks, but you should weigh the pros and cons of sticking to your business name before moving forward. Search your proposed business name on multiple search engines, such as Google, Bing and others to be sure there aren’t similar-sounding ones you’ve missed.

Another good tip when conducting this internet search is to search for misspellings of your business name or words in your business name. Many business names are deliberate misspellings of words, often with letters dropped or substituted. You’ll want to search for these early on to prevent having your business named and registered only to find out another exists that is substantially similar.

Conduct a Secretary of State Search

Conducting a search of the Secretary of State’s office for business names accomplishes two things. It’ll help you identify existing businesses that could have names similar to yours. And, if you want to structure your business as a corporation or LLC, which is very common, then you’ll need to go to the Secretary of State’s site to register your company anyway. Conducting this search is an important step because, if your proposed name is too similar to an existing one, the Secretary of State might not allow you to register it.

Check for Trademarks

This is another tip that knocks out two birds with one stone. Conduct a search at USPTO.gov, the United States Patent and Trademark Office to get an idea as to whether you can get a trademark or service mark for your proposed business name. You’ll be able to find out if another company has already trademarked your proposed name. Plus, if no one has trademarked the business name, you can then apply online at the USPTO site.

4. Ask for Feedback

When you’ve come up with half-a-dozen to a dozen business names, ask people like friends, family, colleagues or coworkers for their thoughts. You should also take this a step further and get feedback from your target audience too. Ask people for feedback on the feelings, actions and thoughts that are evoked by your various business names. Emotional responses and calls-to-action are crucial to your brand, and your business name is the foundation this.

See: Why Your Small Business Needs a SWOT Analysis

5. Get a Domain Name

Getting a web domain serves the practical purpose of setting your business up with a website. But it can also influence how you name your company too. Even if your proposed business name isn’t similar to others, you might find that several business domain names out there are similar to ones you’re thinking of. Fortunately, there are tons of online tools that help you craft a domain name, ensure that it’s unique and register the domain all in one sitting. GoDaddy.com or Network Solutions are examples of these types of domain search and registration tools you can use.

6. Register Your Business

The last step in securing the best name for your company is to register your business. Generally, registering a business is legally required for most business types. However, registering your business also protects your business name from others who are proposing similar or copied names. There are a few ways you can register your business name, such as filing a Doing Business As (DBA). Just be sure you comply with all federal, state and local registration policies.

See: The 6 Types of Business Structures to Choose From

The Bottom Line

Coming up with business names should not be a quick and easy process. Yes, you should like the business name you choose, but that’s not enough. Great business names usually take tons of thought, reflection, testing and modification before they’re ready to be presented to the public. That said, the steps to creating a good business name aren’t complicated in themselves and taking the extra time to thoroughly go through the process will be more rewarding than a rushed job.

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