Learn how to develop business name ideas using these 11 tips for choosing a company name.
Once you've brainstormed several good company name ideas, selecting the right name from all of your options is the next step.
1. Consider Using Your Own Name
Many artists and designers use their own name as their company name. It can be difficult to be objective about the image your own name projects, so do consider whether your name projects an image that is in line with the image you want for your company.
2. Avoid Being Too Narrow
It can be helpful to be a bit descriptive when developing a name, but keep in mind that your company could easily outgrow its name if you define it by a very specific product or location.
For example, imagine you make beautiful handmade leather purses, and you named your company "Purses a Plenty". You might regret that name if you decide to branch out into making other handmade leather goods.
Be conscious of what is absolutely core to your business. In the above example, it might be purses, it might be leather goods, or it might be something else. Whatever that core component is, make sure it works with your company name even if you change the scope of your business in the future.
3. Descriptive Names
Descriptive business name ideas like "Sue's Handmade Soap" have the huge benefit of clearly defining your company's product or service. Do be aware that descriptive names are often not unique and can limit your company's growth if they are too narrow.
4. Unique Names
These names typically come from uncommon or altered words. They have the benefit of standing out from the crowd and are more likely to be available as a domain name if you decide to have a website. Unique names often don't convey the exact nature of your product or service to your customer, but they can convey a strong company image.
5. Is the Name Easy to Pronounce?
Consider whether any of your company name ideas are difficult to pronounce. One of the ideas I considered for my jewelry business was con fuoco (an Italian musical term meaning "with fire"). The meaning fit, but the potential for big pronunciation and spelling issues with that name led me to drop it from my list pretty quickly.
6. Is the URL Available?
Even if you're not planning to build a website any time soon, check to see if the domain names for any of your business name ideas are available.
So many domain names are taken; you may need to use your company name plus a defining word like designs, studio, glass, soap etc. to establish your domain name.
If you are lucky enough to have a name with a URL that is available, buy it immediately even if you don't plan on building a website any time soon.
7. Consider If and How the Name is Already Being Used
Check a search engine for your business name ideas to see what comes up. You may reconsider using the name if there are a lot of results for your name or if there is a similar company with the same or a similar name, particularly if they reach customers in the same geographic region as you will be targeting.
Also, reconsider using the name if there is a well known company using a similar name, even if their product is different from your own. If people already connect the name with the existing company's product, connecting the name to your own products, could be an enormous challenge.
Consider whether the name is being used by someone else in a way that may have negative connotations to your customers. Think through the possible different meanings of the name you are considering and whether it fits well with your target customers.
8. Do Some Market Research
Do your own free market research.
Make a list of your top five or ten business name ideas and give it to as many people as you can. Tell them a little bit about your company and ask them to choose their top three favorite names from your list.
Track all of the responses and rank your list of names based on the results of your survey.
This strategy is a great way to help you with choosing a company name if you have too many good names on your list of possibilities and choosing just one is a challenge.
Try to give the surveys to people who generally fall within your target market and notice any trends as the results are returned.
You're not bound to choose the top ranking name from your survey of business name ideas, but this process will help you to get some objective feedback on the names that you are considering.
9. Do a Formal Business Name Search
A formal search will show you whether your name has already been registered. If someone else is using that name or a similar name, you'll need to be very careful about using it yourself.
Depending on your geographic location and the structure and type of your company, you may not be able to use the name if it is already in use.
I am not a lawyer, so I can't give specific advice on this aspect of naming your company. This is a situation where good legal advice could prevent big potential problems in the future.
Your local business development office or Chamber of Commerce can assist you in doing your business name search, and a lawyer can assist you if you have legal concerns or questions regarding the name that you choose.
10. Live with the Name for a While
Before choosing a name and committing to registering the name, use it for a while. Write it in any business documents that you're working on. Say it. Tell your friends and family the new name. Imagine how it could look on your promotional materials.
You're going to live with it for a long time, so live with it for at least a few days before you finalize your decision.
11. Register Your Name
After choosing a company name, you're finally ready to take a trip down to your local business development office to learn how to registeryour business name.
After spending so much time brainstorming and researching you should have a list of some pretty great words and phrases as well as a sense of how your target market responds to several of those words and phrases.
Hold on to your list of business name ideas. Names that didn't make the cut as name may become a great name for a product line that you develop in the future.
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