How Do I Choose a Name for My Business?

Thorough thinking pays off when creating your business name

It may seem simple, but choosing the right name for your business can be a complex process. It’s not just a matter of having a word or phrase pop into your mind and using it for your business—some due diligence is required to make sure your business name is not only appropriate, but it’s one that helps (and doesn’t hinder) your business from growing. 

If you’re not sure where to start, begin here! Keep reading and find out how to choose a name for your business that clearly identifies it, is easy for customers to find, and doesn’t get you in trouble with the law.

Your name choosing process should happen in three phases: formation, research, and feedback

Formation

1. Consider the purpose of your business 

The name of your business should, naturally, match what your business is for. For example, naming your bookstore “Paper Cafe” might be confusing to those walking by your storefront or searching bookstores by name. 

A confusing business name is an immediate revenue killer. Whatever the purpose of your business, your chosen business name should make it clear.

2. Make sure your business name is easy to spell

The easier your business name is to spell, the simpler it will be for customers to find you online. 

If you have to constantly correct people (or have search engines correct people) when it comes to your business name, it could hurt your business and ultimately your bottom line. 

3. Try to pick a name that works well in multiple languages

There have been a number of business/brand names that end up hilarious fails when they appear in international markets. Sometimes names crafted primarily for an English-speaking audience fall flat (or are disastrous) in other languages or countries.

For example, the popular company Vicks (as in VapoRub and fruit-flavored cough drops), when breaking ground in Germany, somehow didn’t think of how their company name would be read by German speakers. In German, the letter “V” is pronounced like an “F”, and “Ficks”, to German speakers, sounds a heck of a lot like a colorful word you wouldn’t dare mutter around your Mutter.

4. Imagine the future

Maybe your business is based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Perhaps your primary business purpose is selling outdoor/patio furniture, but you’re thinking that one day you might like to include other outdoor items for the home. Naming your business “Portsmouth Patio Furniture” could limit your business growth in the future, so try to think of not only what your business is now, but what it might be in the future. Don’t limit yourself!

If you’ve gone through all 4 steps above, you should be able to arrive at a pretty decent business name. Once you’ve got one formed in your mind, go on to the research step to see if it’s viable!

Research

1. Perform a Google search

This is one of the first (and easiest!) steps to take to see if the name you’ve chosen is unique. Open up google and type in your proposed business name. You might find that there is already a business with your desired name. That’s not the end of the world, but the more unique your name is, the better it will be for your business. It will allow potential customers to find you more quickly, it’ll set you apart from competitors, and it can help you prevent run-ins with the law down the road in terms of trademark infringement (more on trademark just below). 

2. Do a Secretary of State search

Whichever state you do business out of should have a Secretary of State database that will allow you to search for businesses that have registered their names with the state. This will help you determine if your name is already out there being used by another entity. Searching these databases is extremely simple. This is what New Hampshire’s looks like:

How Do I Choose a Name for My Business?

Screenshot of NH-SOS search tool from https://quickstart.sos.nh.gov/online/BusinessInquire

3. Do a trademark search

Pro tip: for a refresher on what trademark is, why it’s important to trademark your business name, and tips on how to file your trademark, check out this post, this post, and this post

A trademark is something that identifies and distinguishes your brand from someone else’s, like a symbol, design, word, or phrase (for example, a logo). 

When you conduct a trademark search, you’re checking to see if anyone else who has registered their business name as a trademark has that same name. This is a really good idea to avoid being sued for trademark infringement in the future. It’s also a really smart way to prevent other people from taking and using your clever business name. 

The trademark search can be complicated, so having some help along the way can be beneficial. If you’re thinking about trademarking your business name (and you really, really should), check out the Brand Protection Package, which will take all the searching, legal stuff, and paperwork off your plate. I’m a lawyer and can help you through the entire complex process.

4. Conduct a domain name search

Your business name is nothing if it doesn’t have its own unique domain (website address). 

There are lots of ways you can check if a domain is available. Websites like Wix, GoDaddy, Google Domains, and others allow you to do a quick and free search. Make sure your desired name is available, and see if it’s possible to get a .com domain. Others like .biz, .org, etc. are less trusted by customers (and are the first type of address a customer will try when typing it into their browser’s URL bar). 

Feedback

1. Ask friends and family their thoughts

Run your name idea by a diverse group of your family and friends. Ask for their opinions and tell them to be brutally honest. Consider their feedback and adjust your chosen name if necessary.

2. Test your name

Try using your name for a little while. If you receive negative feedback from customers about the name (or if you’re finding folks are having trouble finding you online), adjust accordingly. If you have to make changes or rebrand, it’s better to do it earlier in your business journey before you have a large customer or client base. 

Putting It Together

Using this three stage process, formation, research, and feedback, will ensure your name is not only appropriate, but is dynamic and will help identify you in the market and separate you from your competitors. 

Having a well researched, well thought out business name is just part of growing your business and protecting your money. For other ways to protect and grow your business, check out the free masterclass that’s running right now: 5 Steps to Legally Protect & Grow Your Online Business

The masterclass will help you avoid 3 big mistakes that could be putting your revenue at risk, make sure you’re running your online business safely and legally, build authority and trust, protect your content, and help you understand and choose the best structure for your business. 

Don’t miss out! Catch it while it’s still free!

How Do I Choose a Name for My Business?

For other ways to protect your money and business, watch the free masterclass: How to Legally Protect & Grow Your Online Business So You Can Keep More of the Money You Make

How to Legally Protect & Grow Your Online Business



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