The name of a business can make or break a business.
Not to sound dramatic but really, one of the most important and daunting decisions you can make as an entrepreneur is choosing a name for your business.
Typically, you want a name that’s creative and authentic but still passes across the nature of your business when it is heard.
Your business name is the first impression of your business to your customer.
Just from the name of a business, before knowing more about the business, the customer begins to make assumptions and have ideas about your business based on its name.
Throughout this article we will talk about what makes a good business name and the 9 key steps to picking the perfect business name for your brand.
Why Do You Need To Choose a Good Business Name?
There are several reasons why you need a business name.
But most importantly, you need a good business name in order to portray the right message, story and impression of your business and your brand.
The way that people approach a business is largely determined by the impression that your busiess name gives them.
Let’s take a store named Chum Chums for example, what comes to your head when you see the name?
Maybe a cereal company, or snacks or something for kids, so imagine finding out that it is a gadget store, you would probably go “wait, what??”
This is why you need to be careful when setting a business name because it will be a large part of your business’ identity in the short and long run.
Qualities of a Good Business Name
A good business name should have the following qualities:
You want to choose a business name that is easy to remember, that sticks or has a ring to it.
A lot of times the types of business names that stick are either one-word, easily pronounceable names like;
But it is not just one-word names that stick;
- Forever 21
- Dunkin’ Donuts
- Wal-Mart Stores
So try to create a name that will stick to the minds of your target market.
According to Tailor Brands, 72% of brand names are acronyms or made-up words.
So do not be scared to be as creative and outside-the-box as you can.
Come up with as many names as possible and try to come up with something new that hasn’t been excessively used.
3. Easy to Pronounce and Spell
I know I said that you should be creative with your name but you still need a name that’s not a headache to spell or pronounce.
This goes a long way in improving memorability of the name as well as the chances of customers finding your business name online when searching.
A lot of times with complicated business names, if the customer misspells it while doing an online search, they might be led to a different business’ page.
Or may not be able to find your page at all – so try to ensure that your business name is not too difficult to spell.
If, however, the name you are in love with is hard to spell, you do not absolutely have to change it but you will have to work harder with branding to make it stick to your customers’ minds.
4. Portrays an Idea of the Nature of Your Business
A business name should be able to give people a little idea of what your business does.
For example check out the following business names;
- Kentucky’s Fried Chicken
- Dell Technologies
- Costco Wholesale Corporation
5. Not Already Registered
This is a very important part of choosing a business name because you can choose the best name but if it’s taken there’s not much you can do.
Which is why it is important to research the availability of your chosen name and make sure that it isn’t taken.
6. Not Too Limiting
Choose a business name that can accommodate growth in the long run.
You may open up a store to sell classy dinner shoes but in the long run you could decide to branch out to other shoe types like sneakers and slippers.
So avoid choosing ‘super-niched’ names e.g. Dee’s Stilettos, instead, you could say Shoes by Dee.
Choosing a Business Name in 9 Simple Steps
Here are 9 steps you need to take when choosing a business name:
1. Outline the Major Details of Your Business
To choose an adequate business name, you first need to be sure of the basic details of your proposed business.
You should know exactly what your business does.
Your target customers. i.e. who your business caters to.
The platforms you want for your business eg. social media, website, physical store.
Without properly outlining these basic details of your business it will be harder to generate a more encompassing and adequate business name for your company.
Having done this, you are ready to move to the next step which is brainstorming.
Begin by getting a piece of paper and brainstorming all possible business name Ideas.
Write down random things that come into your head when you think about your business.
Here are some important things to consider:
- When you think about your business and what it does what words come to mind
- Write down the words that describe your business and look for synonyms of that word.
- Search for related words in different languages.
- Search for words that describe your business niche.
3. Key Words
Identify key words found in business names of similar businesses or businesses in your field to give you an idea of what you might need.
A lot of times you can find common themes, key words or letters across companies in the same field.
For example in the telecommunications field, a lot of companies seem to have Tel or Com in them. Eg. TELUS (Canada), Telenor (Norway), China Unicom (Hong Kong).
So if you were considering a business in this sector you could generate a name like Pycom Networks or just something using the key words.
Keep in mind you do not HAVE TO use these words, it just helps you streamline your thoughts and gives you an idea on what kind of names the customers are used to seeing – which describes the nature of the business.
4. Make Use of a Name Generator
Personally, I don’t support using business name generators alone because I am paranoid that they might be giving me the same names that they’ve already given to other people.
But I cannot deny their usefulness in brainstorming to help you generate a wide range of name options based on a given theme, word or business niche.
There are so many more great name generators out there.
I use them to give me at least 10 closely related names based on my themes and keywords, then streamline, edit and paraphrase them until I find the right name – starting with the top 3 or 5.
5. Learn and Follow the Legal Business Name Restrictions
Now you need to acquaint yourself with the laws that guide the naming of the type of business you would like to build.
For formal businesses you can name your business either as a:
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) or
- Corporation: Here the business name can have ‘limited’ (LTD) attached, ‘corp’ or ‘corporation’.
There are also informal business types however, like:
- Sole Proprietorships or
In both Sole Proprietorships and Partnerships, you are required to name the business using your surname except you file for a DBA which is ‘Doing Business As’ to change your business name.
So you would need to know more about these regulations when choosing a name.
6. Discuss with Friends
Get 1-5 great draft names and run it by your friends and trusted advisors.
Make sure you encourage them to be honest in their review of the name, tell them a bit about the business and assess if the name correlates with your business’ function.
This helps you see other perspectives on the name – that you may not have otherwise observed.
7. Research! Check! Recheck!
You cannot build any legal business without a registered business name and you cannot register a business name that has already been registered for someone else, this goes for domain names too.
So thorough research is something you cannot overlook when choosing a business name.
At this stage, you should have 1-3 names that you and some friends or advisors are okay with.
So you can take these names, google them, observe what comes up and check if the internet is already saturated with similar names.
Also, these days, a lot of businesses can exist solely on social media like Instagram or Facebook so if that is your plan you can skip to step 9.
If however, you plan on having a business website or an e-commerce platform for your business, then the easiest research tool you can use is a domain name checker like Name.com , Namecheap or GoDaddy.
These platforms will help you check if your desired domain or website name is available and can also provide alternatives which you can purchase.
8. Conumer Backtest
This step can be freestyled and your results may not be an absolute deal breaker but could just give you an idea of what people will think about your business name.
So, for this step, I suggest that you create a google form that outlines your business name along with a few questions that assess how people feel or what they think about your business name.
9. Register Your Business, Buy Your Domain Name
For the final step, you will have to register the business name that you have decided on.
This is the final stage and before you carry this out you should have already checked the availability of your business name and your domain name.
After this, all you have to do is pay the required fee (if any) to be registered as a business in your country, every country varies on this.
After registering, just choose the right platform and purchase your domain name so it is registered under your name.
You could even buy a domain earlier on to prevent it from being stolen.
As you grow as a business you may consider buying some other closely similar domain names to avoid getting copied or having your name stolen.
Eg. Large companies like Apple, although they own Apple.com, will buy other domains like Apple.co, Apple.inc, Apple.net etc to prevent misleading websites from diverting their traffic.
All in all, I just want to appreciate you for wanting to take this first step on your journey to entrepreneurship.
Choosing your business name although daunting and tasking at first, when done with the proper steps will yield very rewarding results.
As long as you know what a good business name should have and you follow these steps when choosing one, in no time, with brainstorming and research, I am sure you will come up with the perfect business name that will grow along with your business into an amazing brand.
Currently a student of Economics and an entrepreneur, Ugochi writes articles on a wide range of topics from beauty to business. Constantly carrying out research to learn about different topics to support and entertain readers.