Want your business to evoke a great first impression? Give it a unique and commanding name—one that readily conveys the essence of your brand. A poorly picked name can hamper your marketing and branding efforts and even cause legal obstacles for your business down the line. 

Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to choose a winning moniker for your company.

Step 1: Visualize

Think about how you want people to perceive your business. Ask yourself what image you want potential customers to envision when it comes to mind.

Step 2: Brainstorm

Jot down words that you want consumers to associate with your business. Use a thesaurus to look up synonyms to add to your list. 

Step 3: Research

Find out the etymology of the words you come up with. See if there are any double meanings or symbols—whether they be plants, animals, colors, gemstones or mythical figures—that are associated with them. Your aim is to uncover any engaging or intriguing terms that can be integrated into your company’s name. 

Step 4: Experiment

String together different combinations of the words in your catalog to create short, catchy expressions that capture the spirit of your brand. Avoid using geographic terms, since you never know where your company might relocate or expand. Tweak the spelling of the words or phrases to create something catchy and unique. Be sure your choices not only capture the spirit of your company, but are also not too difficult to spell or recall. The more unforgettable the phrase, the better. 

Step 5: Reflect

Once you have a handful of solid candidates in mind, carefully mull them over. Say each of them out loud multiple times. Make sure that the names cannot be misinterpreted in any way, and will not offend anyone. They should also not be too generic, such as “The Candy Store” or “Kevin’s Computers”—nor contain any words that may restrict the growth of your brand in case its scope widens in the future. Sound of Music, for instance, was too shortsighted a moniker for a business that eventually came to offer more than just audio-related inventory, and later had to be renamed Best Buy. 

Step 6: Get Feedback

Share the list with multiple people whom you trust, and ask for their honest opinion. Take their opinion into account in determining your top contender.

Step 7: Confirm Availability

After you’ve decided on your No. 1 pick, make sure it’s not taken. To start, check with local Patent and Trademark Offices to ensure no other companies already bear your desired trademark. If you plan to incorporate, depending on your location, you may have to submit a formal inquiry to your Secretary of State to determine whether a business name is available. And make sure that its online domain name and social media handles are still up for grabs. 

All clear? Great, now don’t forget to search online availability as well. Nothing’s worse than falling in love with your business name only to find out you can secure the matching domain name online. Make this step part of your naming process. Search early and consider alternative TLDs such as .tel, .biz or .CO. 

Step 8: Seal the Deal Protect your brand by filing a trademark.