A person looks thoughtfully at a series of question marks while thinking of a name for a business

Strategies for Naming Your Business

Your business name is important: It may be the first impression your customers have of your business. The right name can impact your success, your reach, and your customers’ ability to identify whether your services suit their needs.

You don’t need to spend a lot of time coming up with a great business name. Instead, follow our eight fast, effective strategies to find a name that supports the vision you have for your brand.

If you plan to operate as a sole proprietorship or general partnership, your business must operate under your surname(s). In most states, you can file for a DBA (doing business as) name that will allow you to operate under the business name you choose.

Strategy 1: Brainstorm names that reflect who you are and what you do.

Think about the terms you might use when searching for a business like yours or words you might use the describe the qualities that make you proud of your brand. You might use free tools, such as Naminum.com or Shopify’s Business Name Generator to get your creative juices flowing. Paid services, such those from as Branding Compass and Squadhelp, can also help you get started.

Try to find at least five names that might suit your goals for your business name.

Play around with synonyms, rhymes, and creative descriptors to come up with novel business name ideas.

Strategy 2: Avoid names that define what you do too narrowly.

It can be tempting to choose a business name that very precisely defines who you are, what you do, and who you serve, but names like Cincinnati Lawn Mower Parts or First Street Cakes may make it difficult for you to expand to new markets or extend the products or services you offer without confusing your customer base.

 

Strategy 3: Avoid unusual spellings or pronunciations.

Your customers will need to find your website or social media pages to buy online or connect with your business. Giving them an easy-to-spell name makes the task simple. It also ensures that your customers have an easier time finding your business on review sites and can read the great reviews others have shared.

 

Strategy 4: Use acronyms with caution.

While many great businesses use acronyms in their names, it can be difficult for customers to remember seemingly random groupings of letters. Consider configuring your acronym into a memorable word, like the business in the following example: Pemberley Oregon Paint Shop may consider with Pop’s Shop, Shop with Pop, or simply POP.

 

Strategy 5: Go short when possible.

Long business names may help you describe exactly what you do and who you serve, but they can introduce several problems. First, they make marketing, branding, and designing logos difficult. They also make saying the name a bit more clumsy or awkward. And finally, they introduce more opportunities for misspellings, increasing the chances your customers won’t find your brand online.

 

Strategy 6: Ensure you won’t run into legal issues by using your preferred name.

Take the following steps before settling on a name:

  1. Conduct a trademark search on the Trademark Electronic Search System to determine whether you can obtain a trademark or service mark for your business’s name.
  2. Contact your Secretary of State’s office to determine if a business with your preferred name is already registered. Use the following list of Secretary of State offices to get started:

 

Alabama

(334) 242-5324

Hawaii

(808) 586-2744

Massachusetts

(617) 727-9640

New Mexico

(505) 827-3600

South Dakota

(605) 773-4845

Alaska

(907) 465-2550

Idaho

(208) 334-2300

Michigan

(888) 767-6424

New York

(518) 485-2639

Tennessee

(615) 741-2286

Arizona

(602) 542-4285

Illinois

(217) 782-6961

Minnesota

(877) 551-6767

North Carolina

(919) 814-5400

Texas

(512) 463-5555

Arkansas

(501) 682-1010

Indiana

(800) 457-8283

Mississippi

(800) 256-3494

North Dakota

(800) 352-0867

Utah

(877) 526-3994

California

(916) 653-6814

Iowa

(888) 767-8683

Missouri

(573) 751-4936

Ohio

(877) 767-6446

Vermont

(888) 647-4582

Colorado

(303) 894-2200

Kansas

(785) 296-4564

Montana

(406) 444-2034

Oklahoma

(405) 522-2520

Virginia

(866) 722-2551

Connecticut

(860) 509-6200

Kentucky

(502) 564-3490

Nebraska

(402) 471-4079

Oregon

(503) 986-2200

Washington

(360) 725-0377

Delaware

(302) 739-3073

Louisiana

(225) 925-4704

Nevada

(775) 684-5708

Pennsylvania

(888) 659-9962

West Virginia

(866) 767-8683

Florida

(850) 245-6500

Maine

(207) 624-7736

New Hampshire

(603) 271-3242

Rhode Island

(401) 222-3040

Wisconsin

(608) 261-7577

Georgia

(404) 656-2817

Maryland

(888) 246-5941

New Jersey

(800) 537-7397

South Carolina

(803) 898-5690

Wyoming

(307) 777-7311

 

Strategy 7: Choose a name that has a .com available.

It isn’t the worst thing to have a web address that differs slightly from the name of your business, but if it’s at all possible, choose a business name that has a .com available with an exact match.

While other extensions are becoming popular (think .net, .engineer, or .biz), your customers will likely default to entering .com at the end of your business name in an attempt to find your site and may arrive at a wildly different place online than they hoped to find themselves.

You can determine whether a domain name is available by visiting Siteground.com or using a similar service.

 

Question: My business name isn’t available, but it is for sale. Should I buy it?

Yes, provided you can justify the cost. It’s often worth the investment to own the URL that matches your exact business name.

Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to pay the full price for an up-for-sale domain name. Reach out to the seller in a detached manner and try to reach a fair price. If you’re unable to reach a fair price, try this simple strategy: Go silent and wait for the seller to return with a lower offer.

While securing your .com name, grab your business name on popular social media sites, too.

Strategy 8: Ask others for feedback.

Talk to a variety of trusted friends and colleagues about the brand name you’re considering. Ask about the connotation, the feelings the name evokes, the clarity of what others could expect from your brand, and whether they believe the name would resonate with your target market.

 

Once you’ve selected a business name, you can move on to other important tasks, such as registering your business’s legal name, deciding whether you’ll do business under a separate name, designing your logo, and securing trademarks.

Read our article, How to Register Your Business with State and Local Governments, to learn more about your next steps. Then, log into your owner’s portal for a step-by-step guide on the actions you need to take to get your business up and running.

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