How to choose a Business Name?

Business Branding
January 12, 2019
| Written by Cédric Bédard
choosing a Business Name

Starting a business is an exciting journey with multiple challenges. You will encounter many choices with difficult decisions on the road to success. As a business owner, one of the first big decisions that will come quickly is the need to pick your business's name. This step can come easy for a few, but most entrepreneurs invest a lot of energy in finding the right name. I will share with you some objective criteria that will help you realize why some business names are better than others.

Unique & Personal

With so many businesses in the world, getting a simple name can be impossible, because most of them are already taken. So simple words like “Website” or “Design” won’t be available. We often need to create a unique name by playing with words, prefixes and suffixes to find a combination that makes sense. Being creative is the best way for you to stand out. Your name should distinguish you from the competition by highlighting your values. It should reflect your industry, your services and your products. Understanding your market is a key factor in helping you pick your business name and position yourself within it. Look around to see what already exists and works. A name for a food brand should be different than a name for a detergent brand. Create a list of your main competitors to learn what your clients expect.

Creative & Targeted

So the first step in selecting a company name is to create a big list of meaningful words. For example, you can include your products, your services, your values, your strengths, your personal name, some objects/tools related to your work and more. Those words will describe who you are as a business, what you offer and how you are different. They will be the pillars for your search to find the right name. Then create a new list of business names by playing with the prefixes, suffixes or full words together. For example with the words "Website" and "Design" I could create; WebDesign, DesignWeb, Dewebsite, Deweb, Websign, Desite… Doing that can easily produce hundreds to thousands of names. For now, you want as many possibilities without thinking about the value of each name. So it’s important in a brainstorming process to be open and have fun. Some names won’t be good but can surprisingly bring you new ideas that will have a lot more value.

How to pick a Business Name?

Easy to Say & Write

Now that you have a big list of potential names, you need to start the process of eliminating some of them. While going through this overall process, you need to slowly build up your subjective opinions along the way. A new word, that doesn’t exist in your language, will usually sound and look unfamiliar to you, at first. The challenge is to avoid subjectively removing the names you find strange. I have found throughout my experience that most people need time to really appreciate the value of something new, which is often the case for business names, logos or designs. At this point, be sure to discard only the names that are really difficult to read, say and write. Be as objective as you can on these limited criteria. Say the names out loud. Ask someone how they would write it when you say it. This should bring your list down to 50 to 100 potential business names.

Available & Short

The main reason why you need to postpone your subjective criticism, in the beginning, is that most of the names you will find are already taken. So many entrepreneurs before you have done the same work for their businesses and have registered the names you think are the best fit for you. So, at this juncture, you need to find out whether or not your names are already taken. I found that the best way to start this process is to see if the domain name (.com) is available for each name, since the Web is now the most important place to market yourself. You will discover that most great names are not available or are sold as premium, which means that someone already bought it and is reselling it for a higher price. Be sure to keep those as well, then decide later if investing in one of them makes sense for your business plan. A shorter name will cost more but can be more valuable for your marketing and will be easier to remember. You should also search extensively on Google and also on sites like Facebook, YouTube, Google Maps, etc. to find out who is using the name and for what purpose. You will also see the number of search results for each name to evaluate the possible ranking of your name on the Web. After going through this process, your list might go down to around 10 to 30 business names that are available.

How to choose a Business Name?

Registration & Trademark

Now that you have a shorter list of potential names, you need to see if you can legally use the names in your specific area. First you should search online for information about "Registering a Business in (your state/province)" to learn about the particular laws surrounding name registration. For example, my business name had to follow the laws about using French words only and had to be accepted by Quebec's French language bureau. Then you should also check to see if your names already have a trademark. You can search your national government's website for trademark registration, like at the links at the bottom of the article. If a name is trademarked, simply remove it from your list.

To Conclude

After this process, you may still have between 3-10 names on your list that are available and that you like. Remember that the value of a name will always be partially subjective, so there’s probably a name on the list that makes more sense to you, that resonates inside, and that you like more than the others. Now that you have done the objective work, it's time for you to be subjective and choose a name that motivates you to move forward with your business. Your name is only a small piece of the whole marketing strategy you put into place to help you succeed. Set a deadline for choosing your name, pick the best you found, then run with it!

To learn more about how we can help you find and choose your business name, schedule a free consultation meeting or contact us here. You can also visit our Business Startup page. Once you choose your name, let's talk more about the advantages of registering your name as a trademark.

References:

Trademark in the US:
http://tmsearch.uspto.gov

Trademark in Canada:
http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/opic-cipo/trdmrks/srch/

Domain name Search
https://godaddy.com

Photo credits by Pexels

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