Choosing the right name for your business will be among the most important decisions you’ll make as an entrepreneur. Your business name will speak volumes about what your company is all about: what it does, its quality, and even its culture. So aim to pick a business name that will leave a lasting first impression.
But picking the perfect, catchy, feel-good, and web-friendly name–all while tending to the other aspects of starting a small business–may seem like a tall order for one founder to handle. Below is a roadmap to staying both strategic and creative during the process of naming your company. Learn the best practices along the way, and, equally important, the common pitfalls to avoid.
Here’s your step-by-step guide to naming your small business:
1. Go on a brainstorming spree. The good news is the process starts off rather fun, with a few rounds of creative brainstorming. You’ll want to hold brainstorm sessions on your own, and with your cofounder (if you have one). Next, host subsequent brainstorm sessions with trusted friends and family–and consider a shared screen or whiteboard to create an interactive experience. Have a notebook or app for your own note taking. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Do be prolific. Blurt out every keyword associated with your field, and note what sticks and what doesn’t.
Do let your imagination and creativity run wild.
Do test some relevant word-combos and alliteration to create a memorable name.
Don’t pick a controversial business name. You’re trying to start a business, not a debate or political statement. You want to start a company that attracts customers and makes money more than anything.
Don’t pick a confusing business name. While you want to be creative and distinctive, avoid selecting a business name with difficult spelling or tough pronunciation. A clear business name will lead to a clear business website URL, making it easier or your customers to find you online.
Keeping all these Do’s and Don’ts in mind, simmer your list down to three to five finalists.
2. Research your competitors. Compare their names to every title on your shortlist. Do a Google search and check Facebook and Instagram for competitor names. Do any of your finalists copy or mimic others? You can eliminate these from your list as you want to strive for a business name that is original and unique. Equally important, you want to make sure your final choice is a legally sound one. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has a trademark search tool to avoid any possible trademark infringement.
3. Keep your customers in mind. Next, conduct market research to get a deeper understanding of your audience. Think about your target market, their wants and desires, as well as the type of words and language that would strike an emotional chord for them. Which of your finalists would likely resonate with them most? Don’t forget to check the URL availability as well. Be sure to consider alternative domain name endings to increase the likelihood of finding a domain name match. The .org domain extension is great for non-profits, while .biz is globally identified as business, and .tel is great for solopreneur and small businesses looking for a simple way to stay connected to their customers. Considering all these variables should help you arrive at a decision.
4) Gut check. Run your winning business name past your network of colleagues, friends and family. While following this roadmap and polling your trusted circle can be helpful, remember that at the end of the day, your chosen name has to be something that excites you. After all, it is your business.
5) Don’t let your small business name hold you back. This roadmap is meant to help you arrive at a decision, but give yourself a reasonable deadline for moving forward with starting your business.
Naming your business might come naturally to you, or keep you up at night. At the end of the day, do your research, listen to your gut and try your best to find a business name that will last the test of time with your business goals.