Naming Your Startup Business So you’ve got a great idea for a new business. You took the time to write a business plan for your startup. After long and grueling months of conducting market research, coming up with prototypes, and analyzing your competition, you’re finally ready to turn this plan into a profitable business.
You even came up with a plan to raise the funds to get your company off the ground.
But before you can proceed any further, you need to name your startup company.
You may have had an idea or two. But how do you know if that name will work?
Naming your startup may seem minor, but it’s actually one of the most important and undervalued aspects of your business. Finding the right name for your startup can have a significant impact on your success. The wrong name can do worse than failing to connect with customers; it can also result in insurmountable business and legal hurdles. In contrast, a clear, powerful name can be extremely helpful in your marketing and branding efforts.
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With this in mind, I wanted to show you how you can simplify this process. These are the top tips to keep in mind when you’re naming your startup.
Here are 15 tips on how to come up with a winning name for your business:
Tip 1. Use short name
The name of your business should roll off the tongue. People shouldn’t have to take a breath midway through saying your name out loud. Just think about some of the brands that dominate worldwide like Amazon, Apple, Itel and Nokia.
Your business shouldn’t sound like a sentence. Sure, in some instances, two words might be appropriate. I’m talking about names such as chicken Republic or Berkshire Hathaway Both of these names are still short and roll off the tongue.
Most importantly, keeping your Business name short will make it easier for consumers to remember it, which will help you tremendously with your marketing campaigns.
Tip 2. Avoid hard-to-spell names.
Put yourself into the minds of consumers.
Let’s says they hear your brand name somewhere. Whether it’s on TV, the radio, or in a conversation. Next, they search for it online, but can’t find you because they don’t know the spelling – it’s too complicated.
You don’t want potential customers getting confused about how to find your business online. Stick with names that are spelled exactly how they sound.
Tip 3. Don’t limit your Business
Right now, your startup may be focusing on something specific, whether it’s a product, location, or target market. But that doesn’t mean you should name your business something extremely specific. Picking too narrow of a name may cause you problems down the road. Imagine if Jeff Bezos had picked the name “OnlineBooks” instead of “Amazon. You don’t want to limit your business to a particular product or a specific city.
For example, let’s say you’re creating a fashion brand selling men’s jeans. Naming your company “Jeans for Men” is a bad idea. What happens when you want to start making shirts, shorts, hats, or women’s clothing? The new directions no longer fits with your name.
Or let’s say you name the startup based on the location of your first physical store. when you want to open a new location, you’ll be faced with a challenge.
Tip 4. Check the domain name
So you think you’re ready to settle on a name. Next, use an online tool, such as Domain.com to see if the domain is available. More often than not, you will find that someone else is already using that business name. While that won’t be a total showstopper, it should give you pause.
I see businesses make this mistake often. A company settles on a name, but someone already has the .com domain. So instead of trying to purchase it, they decide to use another extension, such as .net, .biz, or .org, instead.
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I don’t recommend that. Consumers have grown accustomed to associating .com domains with credible and established businesses. But that also doesn’t mean you should make your domain different from the name of your startup just to secure a .com domain.
My suggestion is this. If your domain name is taken and you can’t buy it, try to come up with a different name for your business.
Tip 5. Be original
You want your brand to be unique. Your name needs to be memorable and stand out from the crowd.
Ideally, you want the business name to convey something meaningful and positive related to your business. Can people instantly get what your business is about? While meaningless names like “Google,” “Yahoo,” or “Zappos” have some appeal due to their catchiness, these kinds of names will cost you a lot more to brand
You want your name to stand on its own, without any confusion or association with other companies.
Tip 6. Say it out loud
Your name may look good on paper. But what happens when it’s spoken? Earlier I said names should be easy to spell, but they should also be easy to pronounce.
Make sure that when you say it out loud, it doesn’t get confused with other words. You don’t want it to sound like something that could be inappropriate.
I won’t give you any examples in this instance. I’ll let you use your imagination.
Tip 7. Ask for feedback
You don’t have to struggle alone with naming your company.
Sure, you can come up with some ideas and ultimately have the final say. But if you’ve got a team or partners, make it a group discussion.
Write down your ideas. Narrow the list down to five or ten names and then run them by friends, family members, and trusted colleagues. Get feedback from your target audience as well. And make sure that the name doesn’t have any negative connotations.
If one name by far stands out from the crowd based on that feedback, you should consider it more than the others.
Tip 8. Research social media profiles
This is similar to your domain name search.
You want your branding to be consistent across all your marketing channels. See if certain social media handles are taken.
Having different social media handles on each platform will confuse your customers. It’ll complicate your efforts to build brand awareness for your new company.
If your name is available on all social media platforms except for one, reach out to the user and see whether you can purchase it from them, or consider coming up with a new name.
Tip 9. Make it catchy
Your brand name needs to resonate with consumers. It shouldn’t be forgettable. Even though you’re in the early stages of your business, you should always be looking toward the future and thinking about potential marketing campaigns.
How will this brand name fit with your campaigns? Will it be easy for you to come up with a company slogan that flows well with the name? You can’t pre-determine whether something will be catchy or not, and there aren’t any tools that can help you with this. But you can still figure it out based on your gut feeling and the feedback from others.
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Tip 10. Conduct a Secretary of State search
Once you come up with a name, you’ll need to register your new business
Since you will likely want to structure your business as a corporation or LLC, you should do a search of the Secretary of State’s records to make sure your name won’t be confusingly similar to a business name that’s already registered. If it is too similar to an existing name, the Secretary of State may not allow you to register it. Your corporate lawyer can help you conduct this kind of search.
Tip 11. Conduct a trademark search.
Do a search at USPTO.gov to get an idea as to whether you can get a trademark or service mark for the name.
You don’t want someone else to be able to steal your name.
USPTO website for trademark database search.
This website will provide you with the resources and information you need to know about existing trademarks and the application process for your own trademark
Tip 12. Keep your logo in mind
Your brand name will be tied to all your marketing efforts. Keep your logo design in mind as well.
Different color schemes can impact sales. That’s because visuals are processed faster than words. Consumers will remember a name if the logo is memorable.
Think about McDonald’s. The “M” golden arches are iconic. How will your brand name translate to your logo and will it be recognizable? Ask yourself that when coming up with a name.
Tip 13. Try Some Business Name Generators
If you’re stuck on a name, you can use technology to help.
If you have a few words or a basic idea, you can enter them into a variety of name generators and see if you get a name you like. Or you might just get a name that sparks another name that you like.
Use a tool such as Namechk to search for domain names and social media account handles. Or try Namium to choose a name based on specific themes.
But one of my favorite tools is from Shopify: the Shopify business name generator tool.
This business name generator helps you come up with ideas while checking for domain availability at the same time.
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Tip 14. Don’t be pressured Naming Your Startup Business
Picking a name is important. But don’t let it consume your life. It shouldn’t turn into a six-month project. If you take time to work things out, you’ll be just fine.
Will the name be perfect? Maybe not. But what is? Don’t keep second-guessing yourself. Go with it if:
all the pieces line up
the domain is available
nobody has the social media handles
the feedback is good
you’re able to trademark it.
Tip 15. Make sure you are personally happy with the name.
The name of your startup will be something you hear, say, write, and think about all the time. You as the business owner will have to live with the name for a long time, so make sure you are happy with it and believe it will resonate with your customers. Take the time to get it right from the start.
If you don’t like the name, don’t use it. This startup is your baby. You wouldn’t name your baby something you don’t like, right? The same concept applies here. Otherwise, you’ll regret it, and that could impact your behavior and the way you run the business moving forward.
Final Thought Naming Your Startup Business
What’s in the name? More than you think. The name of your startup company will be your new identity. Don’t approach this task haphazardly.
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Whether you’re struggling to come up with a name or you have a name in mind but are unsure how to proceed, use this guide to help you finalize the decision.
It’s better to take the time and be sure of it now as opposed to trying to change your name in the future.