The U.S. Small Business Administration nails it on the head when they say, “your name is one of your most valuable business assets.” A great business name can set the tone for your brand. It can inspire confidence in your products or services, and it can make your business stand out among the competition. Choosing a business name is one of the most important startup tasks you’ll undertake — so it’s worth taking the time to pick a name that does justice to your big idea. Just like any first impression, you want it to be a lasting, positive one.
Choosing a business name: The basics
Choosing a business name that accurately represents who you are and what you do is important. You want to set the tone for your entire brand while staying true to your values. When looking at potential names, you’ll want to consider the following:
What are the values you want your business to represent?
Trustworthiness? Creativity? Customer service? Innovation? Think about your business’s core values as you work on choosing a business name. For example, a quirky name will work better for a creative company than a financial business. Would you feel comfortable getting investment advice from a business called Fun with Funds? Probably not.
Why type of products or services will you offer?
Do you want to marry specific products or services to your brand by including them in your business name? XYZ Landscaping. Boston’s Finest Bed & Breakfast. Jack’s Personal Training. These straightforward business names immediately alert potential customers to the type of products or services you offer.
It’s always a good idea to leave room for growth when choosing a business name. Think about where you see your business in five or 10 years. Will the name you have in mind still work if you expand your product line or service area?
How do you want customers to perceive your business?
Some naming experts suggest a coined name. A coined name is not an actual word, but one that sounds similar to an idea that you’re trying to express. Think of the car brand Acura. Although the word is a fictional one, it expresses that their engineering is accurate and therefore trustworthy.
What visuals might represent your business?
Are you considering implementing a logo along with your brand name? Think ahead and take into account the type of visuals that would work nicely with your business name. Plus, logos help your customers picture what you represent. There’s no better way to show off what you stand for than with a brand that is backed by a strong visual element.
Will the business name be memorable?
Naming experts will tell you that the best business names are real words or a combination of real words, as opposed to made-up, spliced or oddly spelled words. The reasoning behind the spelling advice is an obvious one: you want your customers to be able to find you instead of going through dozens of spelling variations until they settle for your competition.
Once you’ve landed on a few good names, take them for a spin with a focus group or two. Gauge their responses. Are you getting the desired reaction? Will your business name find traction or is the name lackluster and forgettable? It’s also important to make sure your business name won’t provoke any unwanted fits of giggles.
Check domain availability
Once you’ve come up with a name, head on over to GoDaddy and snag your domain. Be sure to have a few backup ideas ready — it’s possible someone else might have already had the same idea. Consider using different domain extensions to stay true to your brand without compromising your ideas.
Also, try out our Business Name Generator for a few ideas.
Infringement, copyright and trademarks
A poorly researched business name could cost you in more ways than one. Be mindful of infringement and copyright laws. If you haven’t done your research properly and end up in a costly legal battle, your business could be finished before it even gets off the ground.
If you discover someone else has trademarked your desired name, go back to the drawing board — infringing on a trademark isn’t cheap. Use the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark search tool to do your research. Once you make sure you’re in the clear, you might want to consider getting a trademark of your own.
Not sure the difference between a trademark and a copyright? Check out this nifty breakdown to get started. If you plan on growing your business, it’s probably a good idea to apply for a trademark. You also might consult with an attorney.
Read this post to learn more about trademarks and domain names.
Good luck choosing a business name that’s as awesome as your big idea!