This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal or tax advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.
So you’ve decided to start that business. Congrats. There are many nuances when first starting out. From understanding all the business laws associated to creating a business plan, there’s a lot of technical work to do. Before registering your business name you’ll need to work on choosing a business name, which is arguably one of the more important brand decisions you’ll make. It’s a fun task but also an overwhelming one.
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Here are the steps to take when naming a business:
1. Brainstorm business name ideas
Jotting down everything that comes to mind is a good way to get those creative juices flowing. (Keep that Notes app open on your phone.) But to save yourself from going down a rabbit hole.
To generate good ideas, zero in onexactly what the name should convey. What about your business is unique? How do you want to stand out from your competitors? What do you want your customers’ main takeaway about your brand to be? It may be helpful to do a more formal, structured brainstorming exercise. We like this one from Fuze Branding.
2. Make sure the name isn’t taken
Once you’ve come up with a few good business name possibilities, it’s time to add in research. Check databases to make sure you aren’t getting attached to something that’s already been trademarked. Nolo, a site for legal tips and advice, has a list of places to check. If you’re planning to have a website, you’ll also need to make sure the domain name is available. Sites like GoDaddy.com can tell you whether the name you’ve chosen is free terrain.
3. Use tools to verify the business name
Coming up dry? There are a bunch of online tools that can help. Wordoid is a fun site that helps you come up with an entirely new (but phonetically pleasing) word to fit the ethos of your business. On the domain name side of things, Bust a Name, Lean Domain Search, Name Mesh, Dot-o-mator, Name Station, NXdom, and Domainr can all help you find something that fits your business and isn’t already in use. And if you want something ready and packaged, you can flip through hundreds of premade names and logos and purchase one you like on Brandroot.com.
4. Consult the experts
If you’re still struggling — and have the budget — think about hiring a naming professional. Some of the bigger firms can charge tens of thousands of dollars, but they also include logo design and other branding in their services. Smaller consultants may charge less, but be sure to ask what other businesses they’ve worked with to make sure they’re the right fit. Either way you’ll be getting expert help from someone who has gone through the process hundreds or thousands of times and knows what can make or break your appeal.
5. Trademark your business name
Once you’ve found the perfect fit, pat yourself on the back — and then quickly go trademark it so no one else can snatch it up.
Tips for naming your business
Keep the business name simple
You want to create a name that sticks with your potential customers. Think about the job your solving for when first opening your business, and simplify that down to a phrase
Stay away from business name puns
You want your business name to be clever but easily understood. Clever phrases can be used in future marketing campaigns, but should be left out of your business name
Think about the future of your business
Business owners can limit their growth potential by creating a business name that’s focused on one job to be done. When naming your business, think about where your product offering over the next 5-10 years. What does your growth potential look like?
Lock down your web domain
Browse around to see what domain names are open for your website. To create a cohesive brand, you’ll want your website (and other media platforms) to have similar semantic patterns.
Test out the name on Google Adwords
Assessing the search trends of your business name and topic can help you determine if there are other businesses like yours. It can also determine the name’s relevancy to your target market. If you’re an aspiring juice shop owner with the name “Lime,” Adwords data might indicate that names suits better for the transportation industry (LimeBike scooter rentals), based on the search results.
Running a business is no easy feat, but Square is here to help. We have all the tools you need to start, run, and grow your business, whether you’re selling in person, online, or both. And we’ve made all our tools to work together as one system, saving you time and money — and making decisions easier. So you can get back to doing the work you love and focusing on whatever’s next. See how Square works.