Your business name makes a huge difference in how you brand yourself. Get it right, and you’ll create a strong identity you can apply to your products and services. Get it wrong, and potential customers might forget it easily or choose not to buy from you.
So, how do you choose the perfect business name?
We’re glad you asked. We’re here to answer your questions and share insights from entrepreneurs like you. Let’s get into it.
How Much Does My Business Name and Brand Really Matter?
Much more than you might think. Research tells us that:
How Do I Make Sure No One Is Currently Using My Business Name?
You need a unique business name that’s not used by anyone else in your state. The easiest way to find out if your name is already in use is to search for it using our Business Name Search Tool. Simply enter your proposed business name, select the state you want to search and we’ll let you know if it’s available.
What Are Some Common Business Name Mistakes?
These are some of the things you should not do when naming your business:
Avoid business names that are too long: Generally, you’ll want your business name to be one or two words for maximum impact.
Try not to use purely functional or generic business names: While a name like “Appliance Repair Shop” or “Quality Picture Framing” may perfectly describe what you do, they lack personality and will be hard for people to remember.
Stay away from complex names: Don’t use unusual or overly long words in your business name. Keep things simple and straightforward.
Avoid short-term trends: Trends are always changing. Your business name should not be beholden to any trends. You want your business to have longevity, but a trend-inspired name is like stamping an expiration date on it.
Don’t tie your name to a specific thing: For example, you may not want to mention your city or a particular service in the name, as that might imply it’s all that you do or the only customer base you serve.
Jovan Babovic, the co-founder and creative director of Tenscope, understands this issue, “One of the common mistakes business owners make when naming their brand is connecting it with a specific type of service they are currently offering. If the company expands and starts implementing other services, the name doesn't quite fit anymore, so it needs to indicate what your company is about, but not tie it to a specific service.”
Another expert, Paige Arnof-Fenn from Mavens and Moguls, suggests the following key factors are vital for creating a great business name: “has versatility (works in multiple ways from course name to concept to book); catches fire and is engaging; can be sustainable over time; looks good and sounds good when spoken; contains a playful element; the URL is available.”
Is My Business Name Too Long?
Branding experts believe you should keep your business name short. This helps to keep it catchy and memorable. Try to avoid business names with more than two words or with more than three or four syllables in total.
What Are Some Business Name Best Practices?
Now we’ve explored what you should avoid, let’s turn things around and look at some great starting points for the perfect business name.
Research how your business name might be interpreted: Check to see if there are any specific meanings associated with your business name, especially if you’re serving customers who speak different languages.
Discover if other companies have names similar to yours: Even after you’ve completed a name search, it’s worth checking that other businesses don’t have names that are too similar. That can make it difficult to stand out from different organizations.
Check for the availability of URLs and social media handles: Websites and social media marketing are essential to modern businesses. You’ll want a website address and social media accounts that reflect your business name. Namecheckr, Namechk and KnowEm can help with this.
Think about how your name will look on a logo or website: Business names lead to business branding. Consider how your name helps with the visual identity of your business.
Aim for clarity: Keep your business name short, clear and concise. Don’t make consumers think too much about your name.
Tyler Martin, the founder of Think Tyler and a certified business coach, emphasizes the importance of a clear business name, “Customers will have no idea what your company's name is if you make it that obscure: I believe it is critical to maintaining your company's name short and straightforward. It's also crucial to be creative and original with your new company name in order for it to stand out. This does not, however, imply that the name should be so obscure that no one can determine what type of business you run — or how to pronounce it.”
How Do I Come Up with a Catchy and Memorable Business Name?
Much of our advice so far has hinged on in-house brainstorming. But this doesn’t mean you're off the hook from doing more formal testing. Reach out to people in your target audience and gauge their reactions to your potential business name, perhaps through surveys. What does it make them think of? Does it accurately portray your company and its long-term goals? If not, it might be a good idea to go back to the drawing board.
Are There Any Other Searches I Need to Complete?
We recommend completing a trademark search. Otherwise, you might later discover that your name is actually already registered with or being used by another company, negating all the effort you’ve spent talking up your new business. To avoid any potential legal issues, do your homework upfront and secure your own trademark.
It’s All in the Name
Your company’s name is your chance to make a first impression on potential customers and business partners. Your business name is your most basic marketing tool and supports the rest of your efforts to drum up sales and boost word of mouth.
At Incfile, we’re always looking forward. We aim to provide business owners like you with the knowledge and tools you need to set yourself — and your business — up for success.
With our extensive resources on your side, you’ll be better equipped to build toward sustainable growth from the very beginning.
Paul is a freelance writer, small business owner, and British expat exploring the U.S. When he’s not politely apologizing, he enjoys hats, hockey, Earl Grey Tea, mountains, and dogs.