A business name is an essential part of your business identity. When starting a new business, choosing a business name is not just a minor decision. You should spend the time to make sure you end up with the right name for your company. A poor company name could be enough to sink an otherwise successful idea. Don’t gamble on the future of your business. Follow these five tips to make sure you end up with the best business name for your new business.
Unique and not trademarked
As much as you might want to call your business Coca-Cola, Amazon, or Target, those names are taken. Okay, you probably didn’t want to actually call your business one of those well-known names, but there are thousands of business names you probably don’t know that are also already taken. If a business has a trademark on a term, that makes it a no-go from the start. If a company uses a name but doesn’t have it trademarked, you may be able to use it but would be wise to choose something unique.
Your business name is what people search for online, so you don’t want it to come up second to a similarly named business. In several of my businesses, I have spent weeks or months agonizing over a name. It doesn’t have to be a complicated or slow process, but you should always research to make sure the name you want is not already claimed or in use. Check your state’s secretary of state website along with a search of the big US trademark database to ensure your business name is free and clear.
Available .com domain name
While you may want to get a domain name that ends with .ninja, .plumber, or one of the other new and creative top-level domain names, your best option is to stick with the well known and trusted .com extensions. There are dozens of options today, but more people know and trust .com domains than any other extension. I did grab eric.money and eric.business when they went on sale, but I use ericrosenberg.com, which I paid $1,000 for, as my primary domain name.
As long as you are searching for domain availability, also check social networks to make sure the username is available. It would be a bummer to pay for yourawesomebusinessname.com and build the site to find out that yourawesomebusinessname is taken on Twitter and Instagram. Even if you don’t currently put a lot of weight on social media in your business, that is an integral part of branding as well.
Easy to remember and spell
What do Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, and Apple have in common, aside from the envy of pretty much every online founder ever? They have simple, easy to remember and spell, one-word names. Yes, four of these six names are not dictionary words, or were not as of the company’s founding. But there is no ambiguity in how one would spell “Facebook” or “Google.”
Using a made-up word is sometimes okay, but choosing a single word that is easy to remember is ideal. Just look up at your browser bar that right now says “due.com.” Due is clear, easy to spell, easy to remember, and even relates to what this website does – more on that in a moment. When you narrow down your list of top business name ideas, cross off anything that may be tricky for your customers to remember or find.
Tells people what your business does
Last weekend I saw a big banner advertising a new store in a shopping center I occasionally visit. While I am always happy and excited to see new businesses in town, this one left me scratching my head. Based on the name, I have no idea what this business does. It might be a restaurant. Maybe it’s a furniture store. It might sell recycled and upcycled clothing. I have no idea. So I didn’t go by and peek inside.
I’m working on a couple of new online business ventures, and both of them have names that make the purpose of the business painfully obvious. Mastermind Hunt helps people find mastermind groups. Community Sharer helps community managers share curated content with their communities. Due allows people to manage invoices and collect payments that are due. I’m not exactly sure what a Google is, but the third most valuable company in the United States gets a pass.
In the 1970s, Chevy released a car called the Nova. In English, Nova refers to an event in space. But here on Earth in Spanish-speaking countries, Nova breaks down to mean “doesn’t go.” While this was not quite as big of a sales catastrophe as the legend leads us to believe, Chevy was lucky that Spanish speakers were willing to look past the name when shopping for their next ride.
You can’t always be on the right side of the news cycle, no matter how hard you try. Payments brand ISIS renamed itself Softcard after the terrorist group ISIS began drawing headlines. Misinterpretations are a big deal with a business name. Accidentally associating your name with terrorists, however, is so much worse.
Pick the right business name for your next endeavor
You wouldn’t name a baby without giving it a lot of thought, and the same should be true of your online or brick-and-mortar business. A business name is a big deal. Following along with these tips, you should be on track for a name that helps you achieve your best business success for years to come.
Check out some of our other business tips