As Shakespeare famously asked, “What’s in a name?” Well, when it comes to your business, what you choose to name it could have a significant impact on how it fares. While the right appellation can give marketing and branding a real boost, the wrong moniker can fall flat and, worse, potentially put you in legal hot water.
Here’s some help with choosing a name for your business.
If It’s Hard to Spell, Avoid It
In the Age of the Internet, what you don’t want is someone failing to find you online because of how your name is spelled. It’s fun to play with words, but if what your startup is called is confusing, it’s not worth it. It’s best to keep it simple.
Don’t Limit Yourself
You don’t want to choose a name that could hinder your company’s growth. Avoid names that limit your business to a certain product or specific region or location.
Do Your Research
After you’ve come up with a name, do a Web search. You may be surprised to see that the name’s been taken. This should tell you the name game is serious business, for now you need a Plan B.
Secure the Domain Name
Compared with .net, .biz. or .org, customers usually associate a .com name with established businesses. If someone already owns the name you want, you can always try to buy it. After all, it’s a business investment.
Find a Meaningful Name
Optimally, your business name should bespeak something positive and meaningful pertaining to your startup. When people hear or read the name, would they immediately know what your business is about? Although some vague names like “Zappos” or “Google” may be catchy, you’ll need to spend much more on branding.
Run a Trademark Search
To gain an idea of whether your planned name can garner a trademark or service mark, go to USPTO.gov. Do this early so you’re not scrambling to find another name late in the game.
Conduct a Secretary of State Search
You’ll probably wish to make your business an LLC or corporation, which means you should search the Secretary of State’s records to be certain the name you want isn’t confusingly similar to an already-registered name. If it is, the agency may not permit you to register it.
Determine Whether the Name is Catchy
When it comes to business names ideas, you don’t want a dull name, but you also don’t want something that’s too, well, “out there.” You want the name to resonate with target customers, and for your employees to be able to unhesitatingly say where they work.
After you’ve thought of several potential names, see how they do with friends, family, and trusted colleagues. Also run them by members of your target audience. Another thing: remember when General Motors named one of its new cars the “Nova” without knowing that it means “doesn’t go” in Spanish? GM hopes you don’t. The lesson? Be sure the name you like has no negative connotations.
Be Sure the Name Sounds Nice When You Say It
Names sometimes look good written down, but sound terrible when they’re verbalized. If that’s the case with the name you want, you need a better idea.
Get Help with Brainstorming
For help with coming up with names, check out VisualThesaurus.com, Shopify Business Name Generator, NameMesh.com, and Naminum.com.
Be Sure You’re Pleased with the Name
As the founder, you’ll have to live for a long time with whatever name you choose. Take the naming task to heart.
Choosing a name for your business is a crucial exercise that could make or break your company. It’s important to get it right.