How to Name a Business in 6 Steps

How to Name a Business in 6 Steps

You have an incredible business idea swirling around in your brain, and you’re itching to get started. You’ve done all of your research, and know what you need to do to start a business, but you’re stuck on one very important thing. And without getting past this, you’re unable to move forward on actually starting your business. But you're just not sure how to name a business - it feels like such an important decision and holding up your potential names to other big brands just doesn't feel right.

This step in starting your business is incredibly common for tripping up new business owners. It feels daunting and permanent (good news - it isn’t!) and everything you come up with can feel wrong. 

Which is why we’ve outlined exactly how to name your business in just 6 easy steps. 

Step One: Define Your Brand

The first thing you’ll want to do as you’re choosing a name for your business is first take a step back and ask yourself three important questions:

What are my Brand Values?

What are the things that matter most to you as you create a business and build a brand? What are your personal values and how do those work alongside what you are hoping your business to become?

What is my Brand Mission?

What is the reason you’re starting your business? What are you hoping to achieve, and how are you hoping to help others?

Who is my Target Audience? 

Who exactly are you hoping to serve, and what are they struggling with that your business can help them through?

We recommend taking some time to get comfortable and journal out your answers to these questions. You certainly don’t need to have the perfect answer, or even feel like you have it all figured out, but having thorough answers to all three of these questions will not only help you as you go about setting up your business itself, but some of these answers will help you with step two. 

Related blog post: Can You Copy a Business Name? Tips for Choosing What to Name Your Business

Step Two: Brainstorm Keywords 

Now that you have an idea of what your brand will be, it’s time to start brainstorming some keywords. There are three different categories of keywords you’ll want to think about: keywords related to your business, keywords related to your products or services, and keywords related to your industry.

As you are working on brainstorming those words, take some time to look back over your responses to the questions in step one. You’ll likely be able to find some keywords that you can add to your lists within those responses.

Step Three: Play with Words 

Now that you have a list of keywords that are relevant to your business, pull up thesaurus.com to check for synonyms for each of them, and add them to your list.

Bonus Tip: If there are some keywords that you know your business is adamantlynot, it can’t hurt to look up antonyms of those words as well!

Step Four: Keep it Simple 

Now, you may have some keywords that are really sticking out in your brain, but before you fall too deeply in love, you’ll want to pass through a few safety checks. 

First: Is it easy to spell? 

If it’s not incredibly easy to spell (or pronounce) it’s going to be that much more difficult for your customers to share about your business. And when it comes to sharing about your business? You want to make it as easy as possible. So, if it’s difficult to spell or pronounce, you’ll want to go back to the drawing board.

Second: Is it easy to remember?

Simple is truly the best bet here. If it’s something hard to pronounce, or it’s a bit tongue-twisty, it can be hard for others to remember exactly what your business is called. And just like being easy to spell, we want your business name to be easy to remember so that it’s easier to share!

Third: Does it look okay in a domain?

What may look great written out may not always look so great in a domain. For example, Miss Suzie’s Bakery would look like www.misssuziesbakery.com leading to confusion. How many s’s are there? Is there an apostrophe? How exactly is it spelled? And we already know that if it takes too long to figure out, people will stop trying to find you online.

Another consideration when it comes to your domain is to make sure that none of the words smashed together are inappropriate. A business called As Sure as the Sun … well, you can figure that one out.

Fourth: Does it mean anything in another language?

Similar to making sure the domain looks appropriate, you want to make sure that any words you choose are appropriate in other languages as well. Once you’ve confirmed that all is good to go, it’s time to check on the availability of the name itself.

Related blog post: The 5 Steps to Make Sure Your Course, Blog or Business Name is Available

Step Five: Check Availability

Now that you’re feeling confident about the name you’ve chosen, let’s make sure it’s available before you get too attached. First and foremost, check to see if the trademark is available. No, trademarking your business name isn’t just for super successful businesses. It’s something you’re going to want to do right now, but more on that in a moment. For now, search the USPTO website to make sure the trademark is available. (This blog post will walk you step-by-step through how to do that.) 

Once you’ve ensured that the trademark is available, you’ll want to check with your Secretary of State office. If that gives you the all-clear, see if you can snag the domain name for yourself. With that, you’re almost in the clear. You’ll want to double-check social media handles as well, but if those are the only ones not available and you really love your name, you can easily think of a “close enough” handle to use and potentially even try and work with the person who currently has the handle to see if they’d be willing to give it to you.

And if you’ve made it to this point, it’s time to register your business officially! This blog post can give you more information on how exactly to go about doing that

Step Six: Grab Trademarks on Tap® 

Now that you have your name, and you’ve registered your business, you’ll want to make sure you trademark it. That way, it’s protected from the beginning, and you won’t end up with a dreaded cease and desist letter that forces you to start from scratch and completely change your name.

In this blog post, we cover how to trademark your business in 5 steps. But if you’d like us to simply hold your hand and walk you through the entire process, we highly recommend enrolling in Trademarks on Tap®, so that you can file your trademark for yourself and save the cost of hiring a lawyer.

After following all six of those steps, your business name is secured and ready to go! We can’t wait to see your business flourish!

Amanda Warfield
Amanda Warfield

Amanda Warfield is a simplicity-focused content marketing and launch strategist, author of the book Chasing Simple Marketing, and host of Chasing Simple - a podcast to help creative entrepreneurs uncomplicate their marketing and business. She traded in her classroom lesson plans for speaking and educating creative entrepreneurs on sustainably fitting content marketing into their business, without it taking over their business - so that they have time to grow their business.

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