You’ve spent countless hours compiling your business plan, perfecting your product or service and analyzing your competition. You’re feeling ready to establish your brand identity, but there's still one hurdle you've yet to clear: your business's name.
Your company name can be the difference between sticking out in customers' memories and fading into the background, but determining which name to go with can be challenging.
Looking for high-quality names for your business ideas? We've compiled 22 can't-miss resources and tips to help you get one big step closer to opening your business's doors.
How to Come Up with Business Name Ideas: 22 Tips and Resources
Ready to think of your best business name ideas yet? These 22 tips and resources can get you started.
1. Be Original
When it comes to how to make a business name stand out, having a unique name for your business will help. So when you're coming up with ideas, always avoid those that are similar to other businesses.
2. Consider Whether You Want Your Name to be Meaningful or Arbitrary
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), some of the strongest trademarks are those that are arbitrary (think "Google" or "Kodak"). That's because they're entirely unique and have no possible alternate meanings.
However, arbitrary business names can be difficult in terms of establishing brand awareness since consumers will initially have no idea what it means. So, consider whether you want your business's name to be arbitrary (and thus 100 percent original) or meaningful (and thus easier for consumers to understand).
3. Take Domains into Account
Remember that if you settle on a business name, you'll likely want to have a website domain name that includes it. So for any names that make your shortlist, be sure to check if their corresponding domain name is available. Handy sites like Namechk can tell you if it is in seconds:
Don't forget to look at the top-level domain (TLD) too — i.e., .com, .net, .biz and the like. The most trustworthy is usually considered to be .com, so keep that in mind while working to make a web-friendly business name.
4. Solicit Feedback from Friends and Family
Just because you're the owner of your future business doesn't mean you have to navigate the naming process alone. So if you find yourself stumped, don't be afraid to ask family and friends for their ideas or get their feedback on a handful of your favorites.
If you want to get feedback from a broader group of people, you can create an online survey and gather opinions from anyone who will give them (you're sure to find at least a couple of willing respondents on the Reddit forum r/SampleSize).
5. Research Social Media
Just as you want to make sure your preferred domain name is available before settling on a business name, you'll also want to research social media availability.
Check for your desired handle on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube and LinkedIn. If you come across existing accounts with very similar names that already have a strong following, you might want to rethink your name choice.
6. Make It Relevant
If you can't think of an arbitrary name you like, don't sweat it — you can also benefit by taking a more direct approach and choosing a hyper-relevant name. That's because your customers will have an easier time remembering your name if you make it relevant to the products or services you sell.
For example, a cleaning service might benefit from using a name that includes words commonly associated with cleanliness, such as "sparkle," "spotless," "squeaky clean," "scrubbing" and the prefix "sani-."
7. Think About Your Logo
Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that your branding should be consistent across the board, and that includes your business's logo.
As such, think about how your name will look paired with your logo, especially if your name will be your logo à la Google or Coca-Cola. (Also consider how your brand colors will look with each potential name, too.)
8. Play Around with Synonyms
If you've been trying to think of various synonyms for your line of work or signature product but can't seem to come up with the right one, you might want to try using a thesaurus like WordHippo, Visual Thesaurus or good ol' Thesaurus.com:
Just plug in a starting word and you'll be presented with at least a few possible synonyms. Who knows, you might just find the perfect business name in the list of generated words.
Find the website for your state's Secretary of State and navigate to its business entity search feature, if available. If it's not, you might have to do things the old-fashioned way and make a phone call.
This way, you'll be able to determine if any other businesses exist in your state under the name you want — just check to see if they charge per name search before getting started. (Hint: This process can be made even easier with the help of Incfile's business name lookup tool.)
12. Make It Easy to Spell
If a consumer hears your name on a commercial or in conversation, their next step is most likely to search for it online. If the spelling of your business's name is complicated, they're more likely to have trouble finding it — and eventually, they might give up entirely.
The lesson? It’s best to stick with names that are spelled exactly how they sound, and the simpler the spelling, the better.
13. Make It Easy to Pronounce
Choosing a business name that's hard to pronounce is a major mistake. That's because if people have a difficult time saying your business's name, then they'll be less inclined to talk about it.
To avoid such a scenario, say your business's name out loud. This will help you identify if it’s difficult to say, sounds too much like another word or sounds like something that could be misconstrued as inappropriate.
14. Keep Growth in Mind
Even though your business is focusing on something specific now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about the future.
For instance, let's say you name your business "Clark County Cleaners," but you hope to one day expand to other counties, too. In that case, you should either come up with a different, more flexible name or plan on filing a Doing Business As (DBA) name.
15. Stay Succinct
The name of your business should be quick and easy to say. In other words, people shouldn’t have to take a breath midway through saying your name.
Many top brands have just one or two names: think Nike, Walmart, Trader Joe's and Urban Outfitters. Take a cue from them and make sure your new business name is short, sweet and rolls off the tongue. (As an added bonus, a shorter name will also be easier for customers to remember.)
16. Don't Settle
You will be hearing, saying and writing this name all the time. You’ll be living and breathing it daily. If you are even slightly on the fence, don’t use it — you may regret it (or even end up changing your business name) later.
So, don't give up until you find a name that you'll be proud to see, hear, promote and represent every day. It might take some time, but we promise it will be worth it in the end.
17. Check out Incfile's Business Name Generator
With Incfile's free Business Name Generator, enter your keywords of choice and you'll get a list of possible business names. Your keyword plus our artificial intelligence results could give you the spark of inspiration you need.
For example, enter "peanut butter" and you'll get results like "Human Peanut Butter," "Peanut Butter Digital" and "SunValley Peanut Butter." Our generator will also produce results in various colors, fonts and backgrounds, so you can help identify a visual identity for your brand.
18. Play with Portmanteaus
Need some out-of-the-box ideas? Try plugging some of your preferred keywords into WordMerge, which will instantly use them to create entertaining portmanteaus.
Type in the word "cupcake," for instance, and you'll receive portmanteaus such as "cupcacorns" (cupcake + acorns), "buttercupcake" (buttercup + cupcake) and "hiccupcake" (hiccup + cake).
19. Create Fake Words Using Artificial Intelligence
Plenty of successful businesses have names that aren't real words (see tip #2 above). Wayfair, Xerox and Verizon are just a few of many examples.
If you'd like help thinking of made-up words for your business's name, try using the free Fake Word Generator — you can tell it how many words it should generate, how many letters each word should have and which language it should base its words on:
20. Try Rhyming
Business and product names that rhyme or nearly rhyme are undoubtedly catchy. For proof, look no further than Five Guys, Reese's Pieces, YouTube and Mello Yello.
For assistance coming up with your own rhyming or nearly-rhyming business name, try using a rhyming dictionary like Rhymer or Rhyme Finder. Just keep in mind that the goal is for your business's name to sound catchy and memorable, not singsongy or childish (unless your business happens to be a daycare center, of course).
21. Try Prepending and Appending Your Top Keywords
If you know what word you want your business's name to include but don't know how to dress it up, a tool like Naminum could help. There, all you have to do is enter a single word and the tool will generate dozens of appended and prepended versions of it.
If you type in the word "blue," for instance, Naminum will give you words like "avablue," "eneblue," "bluedex" and "bluegin." And if you see one you like, you can click it to instantly see if its .com domain name is available.
22. Get Punny
Want your business's name to have a touch of humor? The Pun Generator can help you think of plays on words you might not have otherwise.
If you're going to open up a restaurant specializing in fried chicken, for example, the Pun Generator will come up with names like "Pulp Chicken," "The Cluck Stops Here" and "The Hen Commandments." While the tool's suggestions may not end up being your final choice, they could get your creativity flowing enough to think of a funny name you love.
A Great Business Starts with a Great Name
Shakespeare may have had a point when he wrote that "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," but that's not to say names are meaningless. For businesses, a stellar name can make a huge difference in brand awareness, memorability and even sales, so you want your decision to be the best one possible.
Whether you choose a name that's entirely arbitrary, ultra-relevant or a mix of both, you'll be glad you took the time to find a name that's perfect for you.
Carrie Buchholz-Powers is a Colorado-based writer who’s been creating content since 2013. From digital marketing to ecommerce to land conservation, she has experience in a wide range of fields and loves learning about them all. Carrie is fond of history, animals and beauty in equal measure. In her free time, she enjoys knitting, playing video games and exploring Colorado's prairies and mountains with her husband.