What’s in a name?
A lot, which is why deciding on the perfect business name can be such a mystery.
It’s not just about what you like or want to say, but also how it sounds with your company tagline, whether it resonates with potential customers or even if you can legally use it.
Most new business owners aren’t aware of the weight the name they choose carries. Many find the naming process daunting, hence picking the first suggested option.
When done right, the right business name:
- Grabs potential customers’ attention and engraves your brand in their minds—forever
- Sets you apart from the sea of competitors—in a few words
- Evokes your business style, personality, and culture and
- Draws investors to you
Admittedly, getting it right requires you to put in the work, but it’s a doable—even enjoyable process—for creatives.
We’ll show you how you can get through the maze and come up with a name you and your customers will love.
If you’d rather skip the entire process and get yourself a ready-to-use, attention-grabbing business name, head over to NameStormers.
Step 1 – Identify Your Naming Objective
Before diving into naming your business, the most crucial step is determining the goal you want to achieve with your business name.
You can choose a name style that aligns to:
- Your business’s mission statement and key values
- Your brand personality—do you want to portray excitement, freshness, reliability, or elegance?
- Your target audience—do you want to attract families with young kids or affluent professionals?
- Your location and what it represents—does your city have a historical or cultural value that you want to capture?
Here’s one example of how we helped Sage Capital Bank tie its name to its business goals. The distinct name portrays their strong Texas roots (sage is a resilient native shrub) and conveys their financial wisdom.
Step 2 – Brainstorm Business Name Ideas
Next, brainstorm as many business names as possible—note them down even if they sound cheesy because you’ll evaluate them later.
By releasing your naming muses freely, you’ll boost your creativity and come up with more appropriate options in the long run.
Here are four tips for a successful brainstorming process:
- Involve family, friends, or other business owners to come up with diverse business name ideas.
Pro tip: be careful of having an extensive group because it may be challenging to agree on anything.
- Choose the right naming environment. Pick a quiet spot away from distractions and interruptions to get the best naming experience.
- Make a naming checklist to avoid going down the naming rabbit hole and getting overwhelmed by too many options.
Checklists will also help you keep track of all your ideas and even ensure you’re not missing out on a potential winner.
- Involve a naming agency- Work with experienced naming experts, like NameStormers, to brainstorm business names and widen your options. See how we collaborated with this tech company to come up with suitable business names:
“They gave us opportunities to think outside of what we were already thinking. What they did for us wasn’t just about names; it was about the way of thinking about what the name could be. They helped us vet our thinking and the directions that we had thought about going in. They also helped us understand the lay of the land when it came to a name and how it would fit in what we do—being able to know what direction to go in was a great baseline.” Deon Lewis, Global Strategist, Tech Organization
Pro tip: Stay away from free business name generators if you don’t want dull, cookie-cutter names that don’t reflect your brand’s personality.
Step 3 – Evaluate Business Name Ideas
Once you have an extensive list of names, you’ll need to narrow them down to the most relevant options.
Use these three tips to help you weed out unsuitable names:
|Expert Tip||Considerations||The NameStormers Way||Business Name Result|
|Focus on 1-2 characteristics||If you target many characteristics, you’ll struggle to find an impactful name. However, if you focus on just 1-2 characteristics, you can come up with something far more impactful.||
Nvidia came to us wanting a short, credible name that conveyed high performance.
Our name for them focused on conveying two meaningful characteristics: integrity and integral. Both speak of amazing performance.
|Don’t be afraid to be controversial||Playing it safe with a simple name like “Essential Groceries” is boring. Nobody will remember it or ever think about it again. Be risky and try to think outside of the box.||
Freon needed a new name as freon was being removed from air conditionters.
Freon didn’t want their new brand to be too different, so they came to us. We risked a bit of controversy to make something similar and memorable: Puron.
|Don’t wait for a consensus||If you wait for a consensus, you’ll never decide on a name. Expect some opinion difference when you’re deciding and embrace it.||When we develop names, we brainstorm hundreds of ideas. Of course, many of them don’t stick and even those that do might not have a 100% consensus, but the ultimate results are always positive.||See our entire portfolio.|
|Don’t settle for a comfortable name.||Comfortable is boring. For example, compare Infoseek to Google. Which one stands out to you?||
Brident started with a generic name: Premier Dental Holdings.
They found their name was associated with services most people dread, which isn’t very welcoming. That’s why we went with Brident.
The connotations of Brident are more approachable and brighter than Premier Dental Holdings.
|Consider an intriguing name||A name that provokes thought is one that’s remembered. If your name is clear and simple, it’ll be easily forgotten. Think Bookstop and Amazon. Which has you thinking more?||
Imagine if we’d called Pergo’s product “wood flooring.” It’d be bland, boring, and easily forgotten. However TimberCraft conveys the delicacy, elegance, and craftsmanship behind it.
|Target the brain’s right side||
The right side of the brain controls a person’s attention, so if you can target that, you’re one step ahead of the competition already.
You want a name that has meaning behind it, something not too formal or bland.
|7-Eleven’s Heavenly Blend is a relaxed name that automatically makes you think positively. If something is heavenly, it’s divine, unique, and irresistible. These very words light up your brain’s right side.|
Once you’ve cut down the list, you should:
- Run them by your prospective customers to identify which one they like and can relate to
- Benchmark the name against competitors to find out if you’ve missed out on a marketing strategy
Step 4 – Follow the Naming Rules of Your Business Structure
Before settling on a business name, review all the naming rules for whatever type of business structure you’ve chosen.
Failing to follow these guidelines can cause legal issues and even lead to a lawsuit against your business.
Here are some of the common regulations you should follow:
The most common formal setups are LLC and corporations, ideal for business owners who want to legally separate their personal assets from the company.
Each state has naming guidelines, but there are some general ones that cut across, including:
- Your business name should clearly show your business structure;
- LLC’s—include ‘Limited Liability Company,’ ‘Limited Company,’ or ‘Limited,’ or their abbreviations
- Corporations—include the words ‘Corporation,’ ‘Incorporated,’ ‘Limited’ or ‘Company,’ or their abbreviations
- You shouldn’t include words that mislead the public to think you’re connected to a government agency, such as adding ‘bureau’ or ‘commission’ to your name.
- Your business name must be distinct and distinguishable from any other existing organizations—do a state search to rule out similar names.
It’s easier to name a sole proprietorship or partnership because they have less formal setups and fewer naming rules, making them ideal for most small business owners.
The fundamental rule, however, is that the business name must include the owners’ names.
Since this isn’t always a viable option, you’ll need to file for a DBA (doing business as) so that you can legally use a different, more appealing trade name.
Step 5 – Check the Availability of Your Business Name Idea
Once you settle for a business name, make sure it’s not already taken by another company before getting too attached and investing in it.
You can do this in two ways:
Since anyone can register a domain name—even with a non-existing business, you should move swiftly to secure one immediately after you settle on your business name.
Begin by searching domain registrars to find out if a potential domain name is available.
If it’s taken, try contacting the domain owner to buy it. If that’s not an option, you can still use the registrars to find close domain names that might work for you.
When choosing a domain name, look out for one that:
- Matches with your brand name to ensure customers recognize you
- Has a credible domain name extension, such as .com for businesses or .org for non-profits
- Is easy to type—short, simple words with no hyphens, numbers, or slang words
- Uses keywords to improve your chances of ranking highly in search engines
Pro tip: consider buying domain names that are similar or closely resemble yours to prevent competitors from confusing and poaching your customers.
Next, search the USPTO’s database to check if the name is already trademarked. Infringing on a trademark exposes your business to legal action, such as lawsuits that may force you to drop the name.
Once you’re sure that the business name is free to use, register it and file for a trademark to secure and prevent competitors from using it.
Use NameStormers to Find the Perfect Business Name
When we started in 1986, we were simply a business name generator. Although we sold thousands of copies of the software to companies looking for a quick-fix name, we quickly realized that giving clients soulless robot-generated names wasn’t the solution.
They needed unique business names that portrayed their brand personality and endeared customers to them. In 1993, we changed our business model and created NameStormers, dedicated to giving you well-researched, creative names to make your business stand out.
Here’s a sneak peek of some of our wins:
Ready to get started?
We will use our naming process to:
- Give you unlimited naming options—until you find the one
- Thoroughly research, including customer feedback, trademark, and domain screening, to validate the company names we present to you
The best thing? We’ll only charge you a flat fee, no matter how many rounds of names you request. Contact us, and let’s find a worthy name for your business.
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Featured Image from: Rawpixels