Tuesday, 04 July 2023 07:28

How to Search for the Best Name for Your Business

By  Martin Eckler

When you’re starting a business, you’re faced with a host of decisions to make, and choosing a business name is one of the most important. First impressions matter, and your business name will be the first introduction customers will have to your company. 

Here we’ll cover ways to search for the best name for your business and some other factors to consider.

Characteristics of a Good Business Name

A good business name, first and foremost, needs to be unique and distinguishable from other business names. You don’t ever want your business to be confused with another.  Good business names also generally have other common characteristics.

Simple and easy to remember

Don’t choose a name that’s overly complicated. It should be to the point and easy to remember so that people can search for you online. Names like Apple and Amazon are good examples.

Allow for expansion

You’ll likely not want to choose a name that’s too narrow in terms of both your product and your location so that your name won’t limit you if you decide to expand. For example, if you’re going to start out selling t-shirts, you may eventually add other clothing items, so instead of having “t-shirts” in your name, you might want to use “clothing” or “wearables.”

Similarly, if you’re currently selling in Sacramento but you later expand to other cities, having Sacramento in your business name would be limiting.

Reflect your brand identity

You might want to choose a name that reflects your brand. For example, if you want to be known for the most comfortable t-shirts, you might use “comfort” or “comfortable” in your name. If you’re in a business in which reliability or convenience are important, you could choose words that reflect those characteristics.

Timeless

Trendy names might seem like a good idea, but trends pass, so it’s best not to choose a word or phrase that might be “in” now. Five years from now, or even a year from now, it might be out of style.

Ways to Brainstorm Business Names

Brainstorming names often requires more than just sitting down and hoping that good names come to mind. 

One way to come up with names is to write down your company mission and vision, your value proposition, and a description of what you want your brand identity to be. Certain words may start to stand out to you and give you ideas.

You can also do this with a group of people, such as colleagues or family and friends. Instead of writing out your mission, value proposition, and brand identity on a notebook, write them on a whiteboard so that everyone can offer ideas. Choose the ideas that you like and let the entire group share their feedback, or even vote. 

Another way to find a name is to go the technology route and use an online business name generator. You’ll put in a key word or words, and the tool will generate hundreds of name ideas for you to peruse. 

No matter what method you use, once you have a short list of possibilities, you might want to consider posting an online survey to find out what random people would choose. Doing so can also generate early interest in your business idea. 

Check Your State’s Business Name Regulations

Now that the fun part is over, you need to make sure that your name complies with your state’s name rules. Some states have more restrictions than others. For example, Michigan has a whole list of words that are prohibited. 

In most states, though, the rules are much simpler. All states, however, require that your business name contain an identifier for your business entity type.

For example, if you’re forming a limited liability company, your name must contain those words or an abbreviation like LLC. That does not necessarily mean that you need to use those words in your marketing or signage, but they must be included in your legal business name that will appear on contracts or financial documents. 

Most states also restrict words like bank or university, or anything that implies that you’re affiliated with a government body.

You can check your state’s name requirements online.

Find out if the Name is Available

Now you’ll need to make sure the name is available. First, you’ll do a business name search on your state’s website. That will ensure that no businesses are legally using the name in your state.

Next, you’ll need to make sure that the name is not trademarked by checking the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Then, see if the domain name that you want is available by checking a site like GoDaddy

Finally, simply do a Google search to see if any businesses are using the name or a similar name that could cause confusion. 

Reserve the Name

If you’re planning to form an LLC or corporation, most states allow you to reserve your business name for a certain period of time until you officially form your business entity.

Alternatively, you can go ahead and form your LLC or corporation, which will lock in the name.

After you form your business entity, you may want to consider trademarking the name, especially if you plan to expand your business to other states. Forming your business entity will only protect the name in your state, but trademarking it will allow you to use it and protect it in any state. 

In Closing

Choosing a business name seems simple, but it’s very important, so take your time and choose wisely. A great name can help to make your business successful. Your goal should be to choose a name that can one day be a household word like Google, which has become used not only as a company name but as a verb!  

As soon as you’ve found the perfect name, make sure you lock it in as soon as possible and purchase the domain name as well. Then you’ll be ready to focus on making your business a huge success.

Author Bio: Martin Eckler is the in-house legal advisor for Step By Step Business and a commercial attorney. Martin is an attorney with over 20 years of experience in commercial law and business strategy. In his current role with Step By Step Business, he has been entrusted with reviewing all content and documents for legal compliance and handling company contract matters. Let me know your thoughts, and when you publish, so I can share it with my audience as well.

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