How to Pick a Business Name

When it comes to the success of a small business it’s important you know how to pick a business name. Picking the right business name can make your business more noticeable. Choose the wrong business name, and you could be doomed to failure and anonymity. In an ideal world, your business’s name should communicate the value, expertise, and uniqueness of your product or service.

Some experts opine that the right name for your business is abstract, an empty slate on which an image can be created. Others believe that the correct business name should communicate to customers what your business is all about. Some think that coined names are more noteworthy than those with existing words, while others believe they’re forgettable.

But in fact, any business name can be appropriate and effective as long as the right marketing strategy supports it. Need a name for your startup? Well, here’s what you must take into account when picking a name for your business.

What’s the Core of Your Business?

The best method to begin picking your startup’s name is determining what your business is all about. Consider your business plan, mission statement, and unique selling proposition. Also, don’t forget to consider your target audience as well as what you know about it. 

Some questions that could help you choose your startup’s name include:

  • What kind of message do you want your business name to convey?
  • When people look at your business name, what do you want them to feel and think? 
  • What are the most significant objectives for your name? Do you want a different and unique name? Do you want a name that’s easy to pronounce? Or do you want a name that’s directly associated with your products or services?
  • What type of business structure is your business? Will your name use a relevant abbreviation, such as LLC or Inc.?
  • Who are your competitors, and what are their names? What do you admire and detest about those names?
  • Is the length of a business name significant? If yes, are you after a long name or a shorter one?

How To Brainstorm Business Names?

After figuring out what your business name will stand for, it’s time to be creative. If truth be told, the more free-thinking and creative you can get at this juncture, the more ideas you’ll come up with and the more options you’ll have to select from.

Brainstorm several times, some just by yourself, some with a partner or colleague, to generate as many ideas for your business name as possible. While brainstorming, keep in mind the core of your business and allow your thoughts to flow freely. Common ways to start brainstorming include making lists, mind mapping, word association, and brain dumping.

It’s always a good idea to write down words related to your business and then combine them in different ways to come up with business name ideas.

How To Find a Catchy Business Name?

When selecting your business name, go for something that’s memorable and is easy to pronounce. Not something mouthful that potential customers will quickly forget about. 

To create a memorable name for your business, keep things short and sweet. The truth is that it’s easier for people to remember one phrase or word than a sentence or a few words. When selecting your business, limit yourself to three words at most.

So, let’s try this out. Which of these names would customers be more likely to remember: Snappy Pictures or Mom & Dad Photography Solutions? Of course, customers are likely to remember the first name more. Why? It’s short, unique, and catchy.

Pick a Business Name That’s Scalable

Almost all entrepreneurs have one thing in common: they dream big! So, the chances are that you have grand plans for your business, even if you’ve not yet picked a name.

Perhaps you want multiple locations in the future. Or, maybe one of your aims is to expand your product line. Either way, find an evergreen name that’ll grow alongside your business.

Don’t pick a name that restricts your reach as well as plans. Consider your company’s offerings, story, values, goals, and mission to come up with a future-proof name. Hold a brainstorm and consider what goals spring to mind when you mull over your business. 

While brainstorming, don’t forget to keep it simple. Stay away from a specific product (e.g. Neil’s Burgers) or location (Ashley’s Salon on Liberty Avenue) while naming your startup, in case you opt to make changes in the future. 

How To Come Up with Creative Business Names

Almost all English words have been trademarked today, so the option of coming up with a unique name is becoming increasingly popular. Some examples coined by naming company NameLab include Acura and Compaq.

Coined business names might be more effective than existing words. For instance, even though Acura isn’t in the English dictionary, it suggests precision just as the business intended. NameLab coined Acura from “Acu”, which is part of a word that refers to “precise” in a number of languages. Using meaningful word sections (what linguists refer to as morphemes) like “Acu”, NameLab coins new names that are both unique and meaningful.

But coined words aren’t the best option for every situation. They’re complex and can create the feeling that the company, product, or service is complicated, which may be untrue. Also, naming beginners can find this kind of naming out of their depth. 

A more straightforward solution is to coin names from existing words. For example, NameLab came up with “Compaq” when a certain computer firm approached them touting their new portable computer. After thinking about the term “compact”, NameLab coined Compaq, believing that it’d be more noticeable and less generic.

Check the Availability of Your Business Name

Now that you’ve come this far, it’s time to find out if your business name is indeed free to use. Although it can be quite dispiriting to discover that your brilliant business name idea is already in use, it’s better to find out now before putting your resources and time into registering your business name or coming up with logo designs.

Search the Business Name on Google

Start by looking the name up on Google. What shows up in the search results when you search the name? Even if the name or something like it is already in use, it doesn’t mean you can’t use it. It just depends on how long the other business has been in existence, if it’s operational, if the name’s trademarked, as well as what you think about an existing business with a name similar to yours.

Check the Secretary of State Website in Your State 

One of the functions of the Secretary of State is to register business names. The majority of Secretary of State sites have a search feature that lets you look up a business name. Check the Secretary of State website to see if the name of your business is already registered. 

Moreover, watch out for names similar to yours. If you choose a very similar name to an existing business, you may not be able to register your business with the Secretary of State. 

Look Up Trademarks

If you’ve checked on your state’s Secretary of State website and found that your chosen name is available, next visit and find out if there’s an existing trademark for your name. Often, even if a business name is trademarked, it can still be used in a different industry. If your ideal business name is already trademarked, consult a trademark lawyer before considering other options. 

Check the Domain’s Availability 

Next, check if your domain name is available. Maybe this popped up during your Google search. If it didn’t, however, search the domain formally through the WHOIS directory. 

Most domain registrars come with a domain search feature, or you can search the domain via the ICANN WHOIS site. If the domain is unavailable, you’ve got a few options.

  • Tweak the domain name a little (e.g., to If you opt to tweak the domain name, bear in mind that customers will likely be confused and enter the wrong address.
  • Pick a different domain extension, like .net, .co, or some more clever alternative extensions like .io, .travel, .photography, and so on.
  • Buy the domain name. Sometimes owners of domain names are opening to selling them. You can use a domain name broker such as GoDaddy to negotiate the purchase. But a word of warning: Registered domain names are often very expensive. Some people end up spending tens of thousands of dollars to purchase a domain name.

Check for Availability of Social Media Handles 

Find out if there are unused social media handles. Check if the name of your business is available on your preferred social media networks.

If it’s unavailable, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Do another check to find out if your business name is available by:

  • Adding an underscore or dot to it (e.g., @door.hub.2020)
  • Using a smart abbreviation (e.g., @DS.2020)
  • Adding an extra qualifier such as your industry, product description, or location (e.g., @doorhub2020app or @doorhub2020usa)

If you find that your name’s not already in use, then you can move forward. Remember that it’s beneficial for potential customers to get the same social media handle across all platforms. 

Consult Business Experts 

Still, struggling to come up with a business name? Have some money? If your answer is yes to these questions, then consider hiring a naming expert. Some larger naming firms charge five-figure sums, but their services also include logo creation and other branding.

Smaller naming services might charge less, but make sure to find out what other businesses have hired them to ensure they’re the perfect fit. Whatever the case may be, you’ll be receiving expert assistance from a team that’s done the job over and over and knows what it takes to make your business attractive.

Put Your Business Name to the Test

When you finally pick a few names or one name you like that’s up for grabs, it’s time to try the name out by running it past people you trust, such as your team, friends, and family.

Discuss your chosen name or names with your team, relatives, and friends. Ask them what they think of what you decided and receive honest feedback. You can even share the potential name with potential customers. 

No matter who you share your business name ideas with, make sure to pay keen attention to whatever they have to say. Also, be sure to ask them to be completely honest and not sugar-coat their feedback. 

If most people don’t give good feedback about the business name you’ve chosen, you may need to go back to the drawing board. If the name doesn’t enthuse people close to you, find out why they don’t like it and ask for suggestions to spice the name up.

Register the Name of Your Business

Register your business name with your state bodies to protect it. If your business name is a corporation, limited liability company, or limited partnership, you must register the business on its own, which will register the name of the business as well.

If you have a general partnership or sole proprietorship business, you usually don’t have to register your startup with the state. Instead, you can register it through the city or country in which the business is found.

If you’re a sole proprietor, another option is to file a DBA (doing business as) name to use your own business name instead of your own name. You may register a DBA through your country or state clerk.

While it’s not required, you may also choose to register your startup’s name for a trademark. This will protect it from being used by someone else.

Choose Your Business Name Today!

Finding the name of your business is an important asset that communicates what your company is all about. And just like you’d not want to buy a house without doing some research, don’t settle on a name without evaluating it from all possible angles.

Selecting a name for your business can be a tedious undertaking, but it’s worth the resources and time you invest. Once you’ve picked your business name, you not only have taken a giant stride toward launching your own business venture officially but also started branding it and establishing your own niche.