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Tips for Naming Your Business

Updated on February 25, 2017

What's in a Name?

The name of your business is important, but it can be tough to decide on. If you choose the wrong one, it can leave your potential clients confused or turned off. When you have a great name, customers know what to expect and feel comfortable with your business.

So, what can you do to do make sure your business name works?

"Keep It Simple"

The biggest feedback I get from customers is that they want the name to tell them exactly what the business does. Experts also say that by using a descriptive name, you will save time and money on advertising by avoiding any type of explanations.

Does it sound good when spoken aloud?

Sometimes the things that make perfect sense in our heads, don't actually translate well when spoken. Say the name in a sentence a few times to see how it flows.

Make It Easy to Spell

Internet searches don't always offer alternative spellings to help customers find you. Neither do phone books or 411 websites. If clients can't spell the name of your business, they can't find you.

Reflect Your Objectives

Are you going for speedy service? Quality repairs? Reliable information? Speedy Auto Service is a great example of a business getting across their objective and letting clients know what exactly they do.

Compare to "The Other Guy"

What is your competition using? Does it work or are they losing business because their name too difficult, vague or cutsie? Use solid competitors as a measuring stick for naming your business.

You Can Do It!

"Remember that the name you choose for your business can play a key role in enticing potential customers to take a closer look - or to drive them away forever."

~ Rachel Bridge, You Can Do It Too: The 20 Essential Things Every Budding Entrepreneur Should Know

Room to Grow

If you plan on expanding your business, make sure the name doesn't limit you to what you start out doing. For example, my publishing company had the word "press" in it, but my business plan called for expansion into talking books, videos and eventually movies. The name was poorly planned since it limited clients to the concept of printed materials.

That Means What in Japanese?

Check to see if the name has any meaning in foreign languages. With today's global market, it would be a shame to have a name that offends or confuses potential customers in another country.

Pick a Name That is "Ever-Green"

In other words, something that won't become dated or obsolete in a few years. For example, 8 Trak 4 You would be a name only Americans (or Canadians) over the age of 40 would understand since 8-track tapes (AKA Stereo 8) became obsolete by the mid-80's and was only known in Northern America.

Thinking of Changing Your Name?

Sometimes, a business name becomes outdated, falls out of favour or has encountered legal issues. Other times, the owner decides that the business has evolved or the original name just isn't working.

If you're thinking of changing the name of your business, The Renaming Handbook by Marcia Yudkin may be of help to you.

(Note: You do not need a Kindle reader to download or read this book. Get a free kindle app for your computer or mobile device here.)

Can You Trademark It?

If your business goes big or you're really serious about branding (and you should be if you're starting a business), you need to know if you can trademark your business's name.

A great resource is

Make a Short List

Write down a list of potential names that you feel conveys the spirit of your business in a clear and friendly manner. Try to whittle it down to about 5 solid options.

Then ...

Make Sure the .com is Available

It sucks to go through all the trouble of naming a business or product only to discover that someone else has bought the .com for that name. I ran into this problem when I tried to get the .com for one of my book titles and discovered that not only did someone already have it, but they weren't even using it! They were just sitting on it, waiting to see if they could sell the domain for a profit. You can always try alternatives, such as .net or .me, but it's not as memorable for clients and somehow always seems less professional to them.

Take it for a Test Run

Once you have a short list of potential names, try them out on friends and potential clients. See how they react to the names and which one(s) really stand out to them in terms of:

  1. Does it convey the image you want clients to associate with your business?
  2. It is easy for them to remember?
  3. Can they easily spell it?

Remember: As long as your customers can remember it, it tells them exactly what you do and lets them feel like they know you, they'll be happy and willing to part with their hard-earned cash for your services.

What Not to Do

Just to be safe, you may want to check out this useful list of Mistakes to Avoid when naming your business.

If You're Stuck ...

If all else fails, get help! This can mean finding a focus group, gathering some peers together to help you brainstorm, interviewing successful business owners, or simply hiring a consulting firm to steer you in the right direction.

Did you have professional help from a business consultant when naming your business?

See results

What Makes Your Business Special

You want your business to be unique and special. And it is, but you make it special, not the name you give it. Your services and attention to detail are what customers are looking for. The way you treat them and care about their needs will bring them back. So, choose a name that they will remember when recommending you to their friends and family.


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    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 4 years ago from Canada

      Duchess OBlunt - A lot of self-employed people, such as writers, artists, accountants, and even folk who hire themselves for home renos, etc. do exactly that. This way, they can avoid the hassle of registering as a business, collecting and filing GST, and worrying about business red-tape that is unnecessary when it's just you. And, they can still claim the tax deductions and credits of being self-employed; like deducting part of your rent or mortgage, costs of office supplies, desk, chair, computer, internet (if you work online - hint-hint) ... :-)

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 4 years ago

      I've heard it said that you can open a business with just your legal name, nothing else - and use a tag line to define your business. What do you think of that idea?

    • I Am Rosa profile image

      Rosa Marchisella 5 years ago from Canada

      Awesome! Thanks Billy!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Great suggestions! I have had three businesses, and I can say for certain that your tips here are right on!