When starting a new business venture, one of the most crucial steps is figuring out how to name a business that accurately reflects your brand’s identity and resonates with your target audience. Believe it or not, a few of the most famous brands have gone by different names in the past, and it is fantastic to think how well-known they would be today if they had kept their original titles. In 1996, Larry Page and Sergey Brin started a search engine called BackRub due to their research on backlinks before finally settling on Google by chance.
Netflix was first known as Qwikster, but it did not go down well with customers and investors alike, so it was changed. In 2018, Weight Watchers rebranded and became known as W.W. to disconnect from the bad reputation associated with crash dieting.
Naming a business can have significant implications for the future of your organization. Not only should it reflect your identity and goals, but changing it later on, can be expensive, time-consuming, and difficult. It takes around seven seconds for people to form an impression of your brand and up to seven impressions for them to remember it – so making sure your business name is both memorable and conveys the right associations is paramount. Here are some tips for choosing a business name wisely.
Why Your Business Name Is Important?
Your company name speaks volumes about what customers can anticipate from your services. It also influences how quickly current and prospective customers can identify your business.
Your business name will be the first thing potential customers and investors see, so it’s important that it makes a good impression. Your company name will appear in advertisements and online, so make sure it is easy to spell and remember. To stand out from the competition, opt for an intriguing name rather than one that is too similar or hard to pronounce. Names like ‘Zappos,’ ‘Yahoo,’ and ‘Google’ may be eye-catching, but they don’t necessarily have any meaning; this could cost you more in terms of branding. Nevertheless, an interesting name is likely to make a better impression.
Sums Up Everything
Ideally, your brand name should capture the essence of what you offer, from the type of products to the customer service and atmosphere (if applicable). For example, Burrow is a furniture business specializing in custom modular sofas that alludes to both comfort and personalization. In other words, they are ideal for creating your own unique and cozy space.
Unique Position In Industry
Your business name should demonstrate trustworthiness and knowledge in your sector. Think carefully about how the name could evolve as your business grows so that it doesn’t restrict you down the line. A good example of this is Apple, which originally was known as Apple Computers but changed its name when it started offering a wider range of products. Amazon also had to change its original trade name from ‘Cadabra’ when it was mistaken for ‘cadaver.’
Types Of Business Names
Entrepreneurs typically employ five different methods when naming their company. The approach you decide on should depend on the type of brand image you want to create, the industry, and your intended customer base.
Descriptive names provide clarity in positioning a brand and can be an effective tool when entering a new market. Although these names may be functional and lack storytelling or personality, they are less likely to be misinterpreted. It is also worth noting that it may be difficult to trademark businesses that choose descriptive names based on real words.
Emotive brand names can help to create a unique association between customers and your product or service. Suggestive names are cleverly crafted to convey the desired experience of using your brand, using subtle connotations. If you have bigger aspirations than just selling products or services, then a creative business name could be an ideal choice for your company. These types of names are often easier to trademark due to their originality.
Many made-up brand names derived from Latin, Greek, and other foreign linguistic sources, are altered to reflect the distinct personality of a company. These names are both entertaining and easy to recall, and while they do not directly relate to what a business does, with enough exposure, customers can become familiar with the name and its corresponding product.
Many companies use acronyms to shorten otherwise long names, such as BMW (short for Berlin Motor Works), but these lack meaning, emotion, and imagery. They are difficult to remember and trademark, yet some of the world’s most recognizable brands are simply a jumble of uppercase letters. This tends to be out of necessity, usually when a business has to rebrand due to a merger or change, but it’s not recommended for smaller ecommerce businesses.
Names Based On Other Languages
Some companies use words from other languages in order to harness the positive connotations associated with them. Uber is a prime example, as its name is derived from the German word for “above all the rest” – an apt title for a company that was founded to provide users with a convenient way of summoning taxis using their smartphones. Similarly, Yoshinoya, the global Japanese restaurant chain, takes its name from three Japanese words meaning “luck,” “field,” and “house” – a reference to the owner’s hometown of Yoshino.
How To Name Your Business?
Use a structured, disciplined approach to develop a list of potential names for your business. Don’t leave it up to chance – utilize market research, get feedback from prospective customers, and actively solicit input from friends and family. Iterate until you find the perfect name: one that resonates with your target audience and captures the essence of your brand.
Brainstorm Business Names
Start your brand name search by brainstorming potential options. Research the names of companies within your industry to get a sense of the naming conventions used. Consider what iconic brands like Kleenex and Sharpie bring to mind and use that as inspiration for creating a unique name. Don’t forget to seek out the opinions of trusted friends, family, and advisors before finalizing your choice. With exploration, iteration, and input from multiple sources, you’ll be well on your way to developing a memorable business name.
Do A Word Dump
Begin by scribbling down every pertinent term associated with your brand and sector. Don’t be too meticulous. The aim of a word dump is to generate an unplanned flow of words.
Set aside a specific amount of time (anywhere from 10-30 minutes) and try not to pause writing during that period – from expressive words to fundamental words in other languages to terms that depict your product or service. Don’t restrain yourself.
Use A Thesaurus
Review the words you generated from your word dump, and use a thesaurus to find synonyms and antonyms. Increase the number of ideas on your list for further consideration – then cross out names that don’t fit. Don’t just focus on adjectives, though; some of the most powerful company names are nouns too.
Use A Name Generator
Business name generators provide a list of potential business names based on several keywords. These tools can quickly determine if a domain name is available for your desired choice, thus saving you time and hassle in the process. You can refine the search by specifying your industry and products/services offered, altering the tone and length of the business name, and adding additional filters. The more keywords you include, the more varied and wide-ranging the suggestions will be. Keep trying different combinations until you find one that suits your needs.
- BusinessNameGenerator.com: This website offers thousands of business name ideas based on keywords, with the ability to filter by industry and adjust length, tone, and catchiness.
- Namelix: Create a short branded name that is memorable with this generator which combines dictionary words.
- Wordoid: Develop made-up terms with this tool that are both catchy and meaningful, with the option to buy a domain name through GoDaddy
Make A List Of The Best Business Names
Once you’ve brainstormed your list of potential names, it’s important to narrow down the best options. Avoid anything that could be confused with an already existing business. If someone mistakes your name for another company, it can result in a costly lawsuit or, even worse – customers being confused about who they are dealing with. Take the time to vet your possible names and make sure they are original.
Does The Name Make Sense For The Business?
Select a business name that accurately reflects your brand and resonates with your target audience. If you provide services to a younger crowd, opt for a casual title rather than something too formal. Investigate the type of names typically used in your industry so you can stay consistent. For instance, many financial and management consulting firms use the founder’s name in the title.
Does The Name Convey Some Meaning?
Your business name is the cornerstone of your brand identity – whether it’s inspired by a meaningful story or created randomly. For example, the word “Nike” originates from the Ancient Greek goddess of victory who had wings, while LEGO was derived from the Danish phrase leg godt, meaning ‘play well.’ Having the perfect name can give customers a better understanding of who your company is and what you stand for.
Is The Name Easy To Remember?
An overly complicated business name made up of unrelated words will be quickly forgotten by potential customers. This can also result in a higher cost to establish your brand. If people cannot make a connection between your business name and what you offer, then it is likely that your marketing efforts will fall flat. Furthermore, positive word-of-mouth referrals will be hindered if people can’t remember your business name.
Is The Name Easy For People To Spell?
In today’s digital era, when creating a business name, it is important to think about its search engine visibility. Will your customers be able to find you easily when they look for your business online? The spelling of the name should be kept in mind as hard-to-spell names may not show up in search results, and people may even end up spelling it wrongly and not being able to locate your business.
Does It Look Appealing?
Your business name will be featured in your logo, promotional materials, social media accounts, and other branding items. Finding the perfect name means making sure it looks good visually and sounds pleasant when spoken out loud. Consider how easy it would be to design a logo around it and if the shape of the letters is attractive. Pay attention to these details when selecting the perfect name.
Follow Naming Rules For Business Structure
When you are naming your business, make sure to be creative yet keep in mind the practical requirements of your business plan and type of business. Be sure to check with your local business bureau for any state-specific restrictions on registering the name. Your company can have one “legal” name that you file when forming an L.L.C. or C-Corp, but you can also have multiple assumed or “doing business as” (D.B.A.) names. For instance, if your L.L.C. legal name is “Harwick and Sons L.L.C.,” you can file a D.B.A. to do business as “Number One Plumbers.”
Limited Liability Corporations
Many small business owners form L.L.C.s to protect their personal assets in case of legal action. Depending on the state, all company names should include either the words’ limited liability company or its acronyms ‘L.L.C.’ or ‘L.L.C.’ It is not allowed to use words that suggest the company is backed by government entities (e.g., federal, Treasury, United States) or words such as “bank,” “trust,” or “insurance” without authorization from the respective agency.
C-Corps are the most common type of corporation and an ideal choice for businesses with shareholders, directors, and officers working together. With a C-Corp, shareholder liability is limited to the amount they have invested in the company; this means the personal assets of shareholders are not at risk. The name of a corporation must include words such as ‘Corporation,’ ‘Incorporated,’ ‘Company,’ or ‘Limited,’ or abbreviations like ‘Corp.,’ ‘Inc.,’ ‘Co.,’ or ‘Ltd..’
Informal Business Structures
Small businesses owned and operated by one or two people usually take the form of either a sole proprietorship or partnership. There is less regulation governing such entities, though it’s still important to be careful when starting up.
If you are a sole proprietor, you can choose to conduct business under your surname or by obtaining a fictitious name (D.B.A.). To use the latter option, registering with your local secretary of state is required. Doing so will enable you to make transactions under an official brand name that isn’t affiliated with your last name as well as open a business bank account and acquire an E.I.N.
General partnerships involve two or more people coming together to form a business. The business name must include the surnames of the founders, but if you want to operate under another name, you need to register for a D.B.A. (Doing Business As).
Check If The Business Name Is Available
Before investing time and effort in a potential business name, make sure no other company has taken it.
Ideally, your business name should match the domain name. However, if the ‘.com’ is already taken, you could consider a .org or .net domain instead. Yet, research suggests that people have more trust in companies with a ‘.com’ domain. When searching for your business online, users usually assume it would be under a ‘.com’ domain, and if they can’t find you this way, they may abandon their search.
Search Federal Trademark Records
Search USPTO.gov to check if your business name idea is available as a trademark or service mark. Enter the name in the search engine, and it will let you know if the name has already been taken or is similar to one that exists already.
Conduct A Secretary Of State Search
Visit the website of your local Secretary of State to find out if your chosen business name is distinct from any existing entities. You can request a preliminary determination on name availability, although you may have to await the final determination before using it. Additionally, you can conduct a business entity name search on the Secretary of State’s site.
Register Your Business Name
To make your business a distinct legal entity, you need to first register it. Most businesses are required to get a federal tax I.D. To protect your business name, brand, or product name with trademark rights, submit an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office once you have formed your business. Depending on the type of business (L.L.C., C-corp, partnership, or nonprofit), you will have to register with the secretary of state’s office, a business bureau, or a business agency.
Guidelines For Business Name Ideas
By following the steps outlined above, you can come up with the perfect business name. Before you start the process, here are some factors that you should consider in order to ensure success:
Understand Your Business
You should have a clear idea of your business, including its purpose, mission, objectives, and target market. Your business name should reflect this and be the foundation for your brand image. The ideal name should capture your message and make an impact with meaningful words or literal descriptions.
Use Descriptive Words
Adjectives are a great way to emphasize the message you want to convey. For instance, if your company specializes in providing top-notch, tailor-made products, then make sure to include descriptors such as ‘custom’ or ‘premium’ in your business name. If fast services are what defines you, use words like ‘instant’ or ‘speedy’ in your brand name to showcase your unique value proposition.
When deciding on a business name, make sure you include words that accurately represent what your business offers. This way, potential customers won’t have to guess about the services or products you provide. For example, if you are selling furniture and home goods, consider incorporating those words into your company name. That way, it will be clear to customers what you are selling.
Choose A Name Style
- Choose a name style that keeps you consistent.
- Consider following common naming conventions in your industry for improved stickiness of the business name.
- Obvious/literal names clearly explain what the company does using common words.
- Mainstream words use everyday words to evoke what the brand does without directly referring to it.
- The owner’s name can be used, especially in finance, law, and business consulting businesses.
- Made-up/unrelated words may be harder to brand but may be more memorable in the long run.
Avoid Hard-To-Spell Names
Names that are complicated to spell can be easily forgotten and hard to find online. When sending emails, people may struggle with the correct spelling. To avoid confusion when printing business cards, merchandise, and promotional materials, pick a name that is easy to spell and remember.
Tell A Story
Some names have the power to evoke ideas and communicate the values and origins of your company in just a few words.
Get Feedback On The Name
Gather as much feedback as possible before making a final decision. Even though you’re a business owner, it is important to get insights from other people as they might see things differently. Doing market research and interviewing potential customers can help you grasp their opinion of the name. This type of feedback is essential for any business, no matter how far along it is.
Don’t Be Too Narrow
Some major companies have made the mistake of selecting a name that doesn’t accurately reflect their full scope of products. In 2018, Dunkin’ Donuts changed its name to just ‘Dunkin’, focusing on highlighting all its offerings and not just its donuts. When picking your business name, ensure it will be able to grow with you rather than limit you as your company grows.
Be Careful About Geographic Names
Including geographic names in your branding might seem like a good idea if you mainly serve customers from your local area. However, it could be off-putting to out-of-state customers who may mistakenly think that you don’t provide services to them. On the other hand, leveraging localization can be an effective way of communicating your unique value proposition to customers.
Choose A Scalable Name
Choose a name for your business that is scalable and can grow with the company. Taking into consideration any potential expansions of physical premises or catering to international markets, it’s important to choose a name that will reflect the future vision of your business.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Q: What Are Some Tips For Choosing A Business Name?
A: Some tips for choosing a business name include following common naming conventions in your industry, avoiding hard-to-spell names, telling a story with the name, getting feedback on the name, not being too narrow with the name, being careful about geographic names, and choosing a scalable name.
Q: How Will My Business Name Affect Customers?
A: Your business name can have a major impact on your customers. It should represent the values of your company and accurately capture what you offer. Customers might be more inclined to purchase from you if they can relate to your brand name and it resonates with them. It also helps to make sure the name is easy to spell and remember, as it will be much easier for customers to find you online!
Q: What Is The Importance Of Market Research When Choosing A Business Name?
A: Market research is incredibly important when choosing a business name, as it allows you to get insights from potential customers on their opinion of the name. This type of feedback can help ensure that your chosen name resonates with them, increasing the chances of them engaging with your business. It also helps to get insights from other people, as they might see things differently than you do.
Q: What Should I Consider When Choosing A Name For My Business?
A: When choosing a name for your business, it is important to consider common naming conventions in your industry, the scalability of the name, how easy it is to spell and remember, if it tells a story about your business, and if geographic names are going to be off-putting or helpful.
Q: How Do I Make Sure My Brand Name Resonates With Customers?
A: To make sure your brand name resonates with customers, it is important to get feedback from them. Ask for their opinion on the name and see if they can relate to it. It also helps to ensure that the name tells a story about your business and has an emotional connection with potential customers.
Q: What Are The Advantages Of Having A Great Business Name?
A: Having a great business name has many advantages. A memorable and unique name can help customers recognize and remember your brand quickly, making it easier for them to identify with you. It also helps to have a name that accurately captures what your business offers, as this will give potential customers an idea of what they can expect from you.
Q: What Is The Best Way To Find The Perfect Name For My Business?
A: The best way to find the perfect name for your business is by researching common naming conventions in your industry, coming up with creative names that tell a story, getting feedback from customers and other stakeholders on their opinion of the name, avoiding hard-to-spell names and geographic names, and being sure to choose a scalable name. With these steps in mind, you can find the perfect name for your business!
Choosing a business name is an important step for any new venture, as it will define who you are to your customers and partners. A great name should represent the values of your company and accurately capture what you offer. Be sure to pick a name that is easy to spell, memorable, scalable, and tells a story about your business. By following the tips and techniques outlined in our guide on how to name a business, you can create a memorable and effective name that sets your brand up for success. Finally, make sure to get feedback from customers and other stakeholders to ensure the name resonates with them. Sign up with Shopiroller today to start creating your own brand and find the perfect name for your business!