How to Name Your Business: 10 Tips to Do it the Right Way

how-to-name-your-business

As you’re starting your business, choosing a name may seem inconsequential.

However, it’s a critical decision.  Your business name will appear on your website, business cards, legal documents, and more. 

If you decide to choose a new name at some point, it will cost you time and money. 

You’ll have to rebrand your website, order new business cards, and create new legal documents.  On top of that, your customers will have to remember you by a new name.

Fortunately, choosing the right business name the first time doesn’t have to be complicated.

By following our naming tips below, you’ll be able to pick a great name, and not have to change it in the future! 

Let’s get started.

TIP #1: Try to Find a Business Name with the Matching Domain Name Available

Contrary to popular belief, there are still a lot of great unregistered domain names.  We created NameBounce to help you find them!

Picking a domain name that doesn’t exactly match the company name can work well.  For example, Tesla went by the domain name teslamotors.com before acquiring tesla.com in 2016

However, you’re going to be better off if your domain name matches your company name.

Lengthening your customer’s journey to a sale is not ideal.  You’ll get a large amount of traffic from users who directly search for your brand name. 

On the internet, you only have a short window to gain someone’s attention.  If they can’t find your page, they might Google your brand name and end up on your website. 

Alternatively, they could also end up Googling the service they need.  If your potential customers do that, they will run into your competitors.  They might never consider using your business again.

Now, you have to weigh all of this with the business name itself.  You might find a fantastic business name that doesn’t exactly match the domain name.

If so, that’s still OK.  There are many benefits to having a unique business name that you love!  Just make sure you weigh all of the factors in making a decision.

TIP #2: Don’t Sleep on Alternative Domain Extensions

We believe that alternative domain extensions will become more popular over time. 

As more domain names are registered, businesses will start utilizing different extensions.  These extensions will begin to become more recognized in the eyes of customers.

Only 40% of registered domains use the .com extension.  Some of the extensions within that remaining 60% may be just as valuable for your business.  Here are some of the best domain extensions to choose from:

  • Country code extensions (such as .co.uk, .in, and .nl): If you are planning to focus your business on a specific geographic area, a country code extension could be even better than a .com.
  • .org: This extension is the best option if you are looking to start a non-profit.  However, some for-profit businesses (like Craigslist) also use the .org extension.
  • .net: Customers trust this extension as a secondary alternative to .com. If you choose a .net extension, consider keeping the .net extension in your company name (like media.net).
domain-extension-blocks

TIP #3: Choose a Brandable or Hybrid Business Name

We break business names into three main categories: descriptive, brandable, or hybrid.

Descriptive names describe what your product or service is.  For example, a descriptive name for a freelance design business could be something like FreelanceDesignSeattle.com.

Brandable names don’t communicate what your business does.  The upside with these names is that they are incredibly flexible if you expand your product and service offerings.  Examples of brandable business names include Amazon, Google, and Apple.  

Hybrid names include both descriptive and brandable elements.  NameBounce is a hybrid name.  The word “name” gives some context as to what NameBounce does, while the word “bounce” is a fun, brandable ending word.

We believe that either a brandable or hybrid name is the best choice for most businesses.  Descriptive names are harder to trademark, showcase less creativity to customers, and limit the services that you can offer over time.

Make sure that you give some thought to your future product and service offerings before you make a decision.  You don’t want to get locked into a name that doesn’t fit the long-term vision for your company!

TIP #4: Showcase Your Brand Values in Your Name

When you’re creating a brand, it’s essential to determine how you’ll stand out in the marketplace.

Let’s say you’re starting a photography studio in a big city.  There are likely dozens of other photographers in the same area.  How do you stand out?

Of course, services will be a big way to stand out.  You might specialize in family portraits, weddings, or corporate headshots.  Alternatively, you could stand out with innovative pricing packages.

However, another way to stand out is by having a creative business name that communicates your company’s values.

With NameBounce, we recognized that coming up with a business name can be stressful.  Because of this, we wanted to inject fun, lively, and energetic elements into our name.  To accomplish this, we included the word “bounce” in our name, and added orange colors throughout the website.

Finally, make sure that you develop a cohesive brand identity that is synergistic with your name.  With NameBounce, we not only wanted to communicate fun and energy, but we wanted to convey trust, reliability, and integrity as well.  That’s why you see a lot of blue colors on NameBounce.

You don’t need to fit every brand value that you want to communicate directly into your name.  However, make sure that you think about how your name and brand values link together!

TIP #5: Try to Pick a Shorter Name

According to Google, 53% of mobile users abandon websites that take over three seconds to load.

If it takes users that long to type in the domain name, you can assume the results will be similar. 

Remember, your prospective customers aren’t automatically loyal to you over their competitors.  As we mentioned in the first tip, you only have a limited amount of time to get your customer’s attention.  If they need to type in a name that is too long, you could be putting yourself at a disadvantage!

On top of that, trying to put a long name on your branding materials could create added challenges!

Once you search with NameBounce, check out the filters on the left side.  Just type a length or syllable count, and you’ll filter out any names that are too long for your liking.

TIP #6: Make Sure Your Business Name is Easy to Spell and Say

You’re going to mention your business name and domain name many times in the future.

If people often ask you how to spell your name when you say it out loud, then you’ve created another hurdle for customers to remember your business. 

Likewise, imagine that people over the phone can’t hear your name clearly, so they end up repeating it back to you.  Over time, that’s a lot of repetition!

You want to make your name extremely clear for your customers.  While companies like Flickr have gained recognition over time with a misspelled name, most businesses won’t scale to the level Flickr has.  Even if the name becomes recognizable as the company grows, better names might still be available from the start.

TIP #7: Make a Brainstorming List

When you’re in the process of trying to find a name, make sure to note down any business name ideas that you think have potential.

You’ll want to be as creative as possible during the brainstorming stage.  It’s important to make sure that your creativity isn’t stifled by trying to remember 20 different name ideas.

Using NameBounce, creating a brainstorming list is easy.  Click a star next to a name, and we’ll add it to the favorites list on the right side of the page.  Make sure that you write the names down elsewhere if you are clearing your browser’s cookies!

TIP #8: Get Feedback

After you make your brainstorming list, you’ll have a lot of business name ideas.  After that, you’ll have to learn how to decide which business name to choose.

Choosing your name is a significant business decision, so you don’t want to make it in isolation.  It’s important to bring other people into the process.

Of course, asking friends and family for business name help is a great idea.  Your friends and family know you, and they might have useful insights on how your personality relates to your business name.

However, my favorite way of getting feedback on a business name idea is by sending out a Google Survey to your target audience.  Using Google Surveys, you can target by age, gender, and location.  With targeting included, prices are as low as $15 for 100 responses. 

We’re working on building a service that will help guide you through the business name testing process and help you ask the right questions.  Stay tuned for more details!

TIP #9: Check Trademark Availability

When you’re starting a new business, the last thing you want to do is get into a trademark dispute. 

Trademark disputes are expensive, and you don’t want to have to change your name.

After you determine your final few name candidates, I recommend running a thorough trademark search. 

The first thing you’ll want to do is a quick search on Trademarkia and your relevant government website (the USPTO for the United States).  If you see a business with the same name and similar service offerings, you’ll likely want to remove the name from your list.

Secondly, it’s a good idea to engage a trademark search firm.  The best deal I found is with Squadhelp. They’ll run a comprehensive trademark search on three names for $129.

Once the report comes back, it will outline a safety level. Don’t panic if your preferred name seems to have a low score. For an extra fee ($50 when I used it in 2018), you can purchase a short consultation with their partner attorney. On the consultation, the attorney will review the report in detail and tell you whether the name should be OK to register.

Once you have the all-clear on your trademark search, you can finally select your name! 

As a side note, if you’re in the United States, one little-known fact is that you can use the “TM” or “SM” symbol before filing for formal registration. 

Unlike the ® symbol, using TM or SM has no legal significance.  However, these symbols are helpful as a credibility indicator for customers, and to discourage other people from using your brand name.

TIP #10: Give it Time, But Get the Domain Name ASAP

It’s important to take your time and make the right business name decision.  However, you’ll want to keep in mind that there are over 350 million registered domain names, and more and more are registered each day.

If you find a great available domain name, it’s important to remember that anyone in the world can register it. 

Domain names are extremely affordable relative to what they are worth to businesses.  That’s one of the reasons why you see domains that are parked and held by domain investors. 

If you think of a good domain name idea that you think has potential, it’s good practice to register it as soon as you can.

Registering a domain name doesn’t mean you should stop your name brainstorming process.  If you end up choosing another domain name, you can always register a new one and point your website hosting account to it.  You can drop the domain that you didn’t use after it expires.

BONUS: Use a Business Name Generator!

Since you’ve already arrived at at NameBounce, you’re on the right track!

Finding a business name manually can take a long time.  Trust us on this – you’d be shocked if you saw the spreadsheet that we had put together before we built the NameBounce search engine!

By using a tool like NameBounce, you can generate thousands of free business name ideas in a few seconds.  If you spend 30 minutes searching on NameBounce, you’ll have dozens of great ideas that you might not have thought of manually.

On top of that, you don’t have to worry about finding a business name with a matching available domain name.  By using a business name generator with built-in domain availability checks, you will already know that the matching domain name is available!

Check out our business name generator here. Just type in a word or two, and you’ll get hundreds of business name ideas in a few seconds!

Conclusion

It’s essential to find the right name for your business.  You’ll want to make sure to get it right the first time around.  That way, you won’t need to change it later.  Following the tips above will make it much easier for you to find that great name.

Ready to get started with your name brainstorming process?  Try out our business name generator by typing one or two separate words into the search box here!

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