Naming your business is a big decision and there are a few things to consider before choosing. I’m such a proponent of just getting started before tackling all the biz stuff (more to come on that later), but unfortunately it’s hard to really get things rolling without a business name. It’s totally fine to begin offering your service or product via your personal social media channels, but to be taken seriously and get clients other than your friends and family, you gotta name your biz!
So, where to start? The first thing to do when naming your business is to brainstorm. If you’re into spreadsheets, start a sheet with words related to your business. If you’re tactile, like me, pull out a piece of paper and start jotting some ideas down. I’ve created a printable download to use for brainstorming with a checklist included. Picking a name isn’t something that happens in a day; I like to stew on several ideas for a while until I really feel clear about the direction I want to go with.
After you’ve got some key words associated with your business, product, and service, pull them together to create some phrases. Use a thesaurus to generate similar words. Do what you need to do to get your creative juices flowing (listen to music, browse Pinterest, open your favorite magazine) and open your mind to words. You might see or hear something catchy that strikes up an idea. Write that stuff down!
KEEP IT SIMPLE AND CONSIDER THE FUTURE
Choosing a business name that people will remember is key. Keeping it simple ensures that word of mouth will do its job well. If people can remember your business name, they’ll be able to easily find you when it’s time to order your product or purchase your service. Also, make sure it is relatable as that makes it memorable. What does this mean? If you make stationery and name your business “Pineapple Dreams”, people will have a more difficult time finding you than if you choose “Pineapple Papers”.
Having an overall vision of your business not only today, but where it might go in the future is so important. Although it needs to be relatable, I recommend not limiting yourself by avoiding getting too specific when naming your business. For example, with “Pineapple Papers” you are limiting the business to paper products. Does this mean you can’t create other things in the future? No, but “Pineapple Designs” will allow the business to grow, keeping it niche, but not limiting. Make sure the business name you choose with will stand the test of time and your future growth!
My first business started as invitation design, but eventually grew into wedding stationery. I offer a variety of paper products including cards and signs, but didn’t want to limit my business by adding “paper” or “stationery” in the name. “oh my! designs” was born and I love the name even more today than when I started.
First things first, check to see if the domain name is available for the business names. I like searching on NameCheap.com, as they show different options if the .com isn’t available. If the .com is available, that’s a really good sign – businesses usually buy up a domain name early in the process, so if yours isn’t taken congratulations! If the .com isn’t available, I like to do some research to see what type of website, if any, exists under the current domain. Wondering exactly how to register a domain? Check out this article with step-by-step directions!
I cross that business name idea off my list if there’s a large brand or website at the domain. I don’t want to compete with something that already exists. If you don’t find anything, it’s possible the domain name was purchased and is available for resell (NameCheap can guide you through the process of buying an existing domain from its owner). Consider using a different domain suffix if it fits with your brand like .co or .shop.
In the case of my business, oh my! designs, the .com was taken but not being used. I was unable to purchase, so chose to add “by steph” to the .com version. You can see my website here!
Next I check social media handles and this website makes this uber easy. You can type in your potential business name and it will let you know which social media channels do and don’t have it available for use. I like to make sure the big ones like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest have availability for the biz name I want. If there are other networks important to your brand, look into them specifically.
Hashtags can’t be claimed or purchased, but I do check the business name in hashtag form on Instagram. Log into the ‘gram, choose the search function, type in your idea, and select the “tags” category. Find none? That’s wonderful! If there are a few, check the dates – older photos will eventually get buried once you start hashtagging your business. Find a lot of existing posts? Consider using something different.
Lastly, do a quick search of the US trademark records. The basic search will typically get the job done. If someone has registered your potential business name, you are legally unable to use it. You can see if the trademark is “live” or “dead” through their site, but consult with a lawyer if you have any questions.
Using your list of business name ideas, start eliminating based on the above factors. Download my business name checklist to easily make sure you cover all the bases when making your final decision!
How did you choose your business name? Leave your experience in the comments below!