The name that you choose for your business can make a major impact on your brand image. Selecting the perfect name sometimes requires finding a balance between the practical and creative elements. Then once you have the perfect name in mind, you need to make it official and protect your brand.
How to Create a Business Name
If you’re just getting started with your business journey and are in search of the perfect name, here’s a guide ranging from the creative to the legal aspects involved.
Choose a Name That’s Creative and Memorable
The best business names always stand out from the competition. That means they need to be creative and unique. There’s no magic formula for this. But basically, your name should be different enough from other companies in your industry that customers won’t confuse your business with others.
However, there are also some advantages of having a business name that clearly and directly describes what you do. For example, including “plumbing” in the name for a local plumber tells people exactly what type of service you provide. So they’re not left guessing. And it can help you with things like SEO for your website. You can still get a little creative with the other aspects of your name. But in certain industries, people don’t expect anything too out-there.
No matter what style of business name you choose, it’s essential that the name you choose is easy to remember. It should be pithy and simple enough so that customers can commit it to memory after doing business with you just once. Ideally, it should also be something that’s very easy to read and pronounce. And if there’s some kind of hook, like a pun or an element that you can tie into your logo or branding, even better.
If you’re not sure where to get started on your naming journey, you might consider using a name generator or list of name examples that are specific to your industry. You still need to make sure that the names you come up with aren’t taken. But these tools can sometimes help business owners find that spark of inspiration that leads to an original idea.
Check the Availability of Your Business Name
Even if you find the perfect business name, it won’t do you any good if someone else is already using it. This can lead to confusion for your business and potentially even legal issues.
To avoid this, check the U.S. trademark database and your state’s database of business names. Additionally, you need to look into the rules regarding business names in your state and/or city. Some states have outlawed certain words, often those that might imply you run a government office, school or financial institution. If you meet these qualifications, then you should be good to go legally.
However, there may still be other businesses using your preferred name without having a trademark registered. Even if you can lay legal claim to it, a company that has been using the name for years may create headaches for your business. And the whole thing can seem confusing for customers. Do some online searches to make sure your name isn’t in use unofficially. You may even want to search for names that look especially similar to avoid confusion.
See If the Domain Is Available
Ideally, your business name will also be available as a website domain. Using your name, rather than a tagline or combination of other words, makes your site easy to remember. So customers can quickly find you online and make purchases or interact with your business.
Before choosing a name, it’s a good idea to check the availability of the domain you want. If it’s taken, you may want to rethink or adjust your name, or reach out to the owner to see if they might be willing to sell. You might also look to see if the corresponding social media handles are available.
Once you have your eye on a domain that corresponds with the name of your business, try to register it with the .com extension, since that’s what people are used to. You can also purchase the .net and .org equivalents and have them redirect to your main site. There are actually lots of new extensions available today, including things like .tv and .design. But these aren’t usually as easy for customers to remember.
Register Your Business Name
Once you have the perfect name, it’s time to make it official. In the U.S. you can register your business name with the Secretary of State office in your state. Outside the U.S., find the relevant local authority that deals with businesses and ask about their process.
Additionally, if the business name that you use on a daily basis is different than the legal name for your business (like if you’re a sole proprietor and your business name is technically your own name) then you can file a DBA to register the name you use for business matters.
You might also consider protecting your brand name with a trademark. This is different than registering your business name, even though your brand and business names may be the same. This would give you legal protections if other companies attempt to use your brand name in any of their materials. And it can also help you protect multiple brands under the umbrella of one company.