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 businesses identity, but finding the right name for your business is no easy task. How do you come up with the perfect business name?
Choosing the wrong name can result in failing to connect with your customer, significantly impacting your success. However, a clear and powerful name can be impactful in your marketing and branding efforts.
There are many aspects to think about when coming up with a name, such as certain things to avoid, research and even tools to help you brainstorm. We’ve compiled a list of resources and tips to help you make your business name stand out.
How to Pick a Business Name
Be original: Having a unique brand name will ensure it’s memorable and will stand out from the crowd.
Find a name that conveys meaning: Ideally, this will be something that is positively related to your brand. Even though names like “Google” are (or used to be) meaningless, these names can cost you more to brand since you're starting from scratch.
Secure a domain: If you think you’re ready to settle on a business name, your next step is to see if the web domain is available. Businesses often make the mistake of settling on a name that someone already owns the .com domain for. If you find yourself in this circumstance, it’s not recommended to go with a .net, .biz or .org instead — .com is considered the most credible. Have a few alternate name options on hand just in case.
Solicit feedback: Even though you are the business owner, you don’t have to go at this alone. Share your naming ideas with friends, family and peers, or use a survey to get feedback from your target audience to see if the name resonates.
Research social media: Similar to your domain research, don’t forget to search out social media availability, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. You want your brand to be consistent throughout all platforms and marketing channels. Doing a quick search will help you understand, for example, if your go-to Twitter handle has been taken or is too similar to another one that's already popular.
Make it relevant: Your business name should somehow tie back to what you’re trying to sell, even if that’s conveyed through your branding. You just want to avoid confusion by creating something completely random.
Think about your logo: Again, you want your branding to be consistent in all marketing channels. Believe it or not, different colors and designs have an impact on consumers. Sometimes they can even remember a logo over a name, so think about how your brand name will translate to your logo.
Play around with keywords: Check out Visual Thesaurus. If you have an idea of what you want your business to convey but can’t think of the words, this resource can help suggest creative alternatives.
Run SEO-based keyword searches: This tactic is primarily used to drive traffic to your website, but can also be used when researching business name ideas. SEO tools like Ubersuggest and Google AdWords Keyword Planning can help you find related keyword pairings based on internet searches.
Research trademarks: Do a search on USPTO.gov to see whether or not you can trademark your business name. This way you can secure the name without someone else snatching it up. It will also show you if you can legally use the name, in addition to providing you with the information you need to know about existing trademarks and the application process.
Search secretary of state records: If you’re planning to form an LLC or corporation, searching your secretary of state's records will make sure the name isn’t too close to a business name that’s already been registered.
What to Avoid in a Business Name
Names that are hard 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 businesses name is complicated, they won’t be able to find it — and eventually, they’ll give up. It’s best to stick with names that are spelled exactly how they sound.
Names that are hard to pronounce: This goes hand-in-hand with being hard to spell. If a person has a difficult time saying your businesses name, frankly, they just won’t talk about it. Say your business 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.
Names that restrict growth: Even though your business is focusing on something specific now, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about the future. For example, if you’re starting out selling shirts for women, you don’t want to name your company “Shirts for Women” — just in case you want to start selling more pieces of clothing for other customers.
Names that are too long: The name of your business should be quick and easy to say (i.e., people shouldn’t have to take a breath midway through saying your name!). Many top brands have just one-word names: think Nike, Target and Apple. Your business name should not be a sentence, and it should easily roll off the tongue. A shorter name will also be easier for customers to remember.
Settling: 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. Find a name that you will love to see, hear and represent every day.
Business Name Generator Tools
Ready to take the plunge, but just need some ideas to get started? Check out these creative business name tools for a little inspiration:
NameStation generates thousands of combinations with synonyms, similar words and word lists by entering a few keywords.
Naminum instructs you to put in one word related to your business and then has you view different variations of that word.
Shopify’s business name generator is easy to use and will produce results instantly.
Panabee has you start searching with two keywords and then helps you come up with not just a business name, but a domain name or app names.
Wordlab will give you a number of business name generators to help distill down your chosen niche faster.
Anadea is another online business name generator that helps generate catchy names specifically for online businesses.
If you need further assistance in identifying whether your ideal company name is available, use Incfile’s Business Name Search Tool. We’ve made it fast and easy to look up LLC and corporation names in some of the most popular U.S. states for LLC formation, so you can easily see if your proposed business name is available.