So, you have thought up a great idea for your own business, but now you need to come up with a business name. As simple as it may sound, the process of picking a business name for your company can often be very time-consuming or worrying. You have to worry about if potential customers will get what you’re doing from your title, as well as if there are other established business names that are confusingly similar to yours. With entrepreneurship levels growing every day, there is more to think about than ever before.
Choosing how to name your business isn’t just picking a business name you like, it’s picking two. The domain name you choose may end up being different than the actual name of your business, but both names still have to tie together somehow. Together they make up your business entity, but getting to that point requires a fair bit of time and effort.
Picking a Company Name
As a small business owner, developing a business name is more than just choosing a name you like. You need to think about the brand identity that you want to portray to your future clients. Doing this properly can lead to business growth and brand recognition, but it can be a time-consuming process to get there.
Keep it Simple
Before you start brainstorming ideas for potential company names, keep in mind that you should keep it simple. A common mistake that businesses make is creating a name that has too many words or making each word in the title too long. An ideal business name will have one to three words and three to four syllables total.
Having a shorter name makes your business easier to remember and more ‘brandable.’ Longer company names may be harder to read or recall, which may drive a potential customer to go to a competitor.
Define What Your Business is About
It’s a smart idea to make sure that your business title is easily understandable by your audience. Because of its audience, a business-to-business company may find it in its best interest to have its name state what it does. We can take Social Eyes Marketing and FedEx as examples. Our company name directly states that we do marketing, and FedEx stands for Federal Express. These company names offer no confusion to the target audience they market towards.
If your product or service is designed for a business-to-consumer market, you should make sure that your name is catchy and easy to remember. The name should go with the product offered, but it doesn’t have to directly state what your company does. For example, Uber’s name does not directly state that it is a ride-sharing app. It’s just a catchy name for a business that has excelled in its marketing.
In general, you should be creative with your name. Have fun with it, but always keep in mind what your business has at its core.
With all of that in mind, it is time for your first brainstorming session! During this time, write down every name that you can think of no matter how good or bad it might be. Who knows, you may end up mixing two names together to create something perfect!
Friends and family are good resources to use as you come up with names for your business. Be sure to ask them to be as critical as possible. You want them to tell you if your name isn’t the best, and not just be supportive of everything you create. If you are able, try and reach out to other third parties to see what they think of your business names. You can never have too many ideas or too much criticism.
Picking from Multiple Business Names
Now that you have a large list of business names to work with, it’s time to work on narrowing it down. If possible, we suggest creating a focus group of potential clients to decide on the name. This could either be a formal focus group or something composed of people around you. Again, you want to make sure to tell the members of your group to be as critical as possible. You’re trying to find the best name, and sometimes your favorite name won’t end up being the best.
If a focus group is not possible we still suggest running your favorite names by a few close friends or family members. Using their input, decide upon the best name for your business. It should be something that takes their suggestions into account, but also be something that you personally like.
At the end of this process, you will have your desired business name! But you’re not done just yet. It’s time to do some research to finalize your name.
Make Sure that the Name isn’t Taken
During the process of starting your new venture, you will find a name for your business that just makes sense. This means that you are almost good to go, but you still need to make sure that your business name is not taken. To start, do a quick Google search with the name of your business. Do similar businesses pop up? Is your name already being used? If so, it would be a smart idea to change up your name idea.
You should also check the USPTO’s trademark database TESS to see if a similar business name has a trademark that has been registered or applied for. You will not be able to name your business the same name as a business that holds a trademark. You may be able to share the name of your business with a company in a different industry, but your logo, colors, and branding should be designed to avoid confusion.
If there are no other businesses that share your business name or are close enough to cause confusion, it’s time to file the paperwork to turn your idea into a real business! At this time you should file for your own trademark through the USPTO. You can also hire a patent and trademark attorney to help you through the process. This should be done prior to your business launch so your name will be protected throughout the process.
Be sure to start your trademark process sooner than later, as receiving a trademark can take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
Picking the Right Domain Name
Once you have successfully decided on your business name it’s time to go to the second step, coming up with a domain name for your website. The quality and clarity of a domain name are essential to a business’s online presence. While many businesses share their domain and company name, this is not always possible for every company. Some names may be too long, some may not translate well to a domain name format, or some may have been taken already.
Your domain name should be crafted so that it is both easy to remember and professional. People pay attention to domain names, and you want to make sure that yours drives traffic toward your website, not away from it.
Do What you Have Done Before
When coming up with ideas for your domain name you will repeat much of the process that you did when picking a business name. Take your chosen name and use it to brainstorm multiple options for a domain name. Having a few options to choose from can help if your business name doesn’t have domain availability.
Do Not be Afraid to Abbreviate
Domain names often contain abbreviations or acronyms of the actual name of the business. This is done in order to lower the number of characters that are needed in order to find the site. A shorter URL also provides less of a chance for users to misspell your domain name.
However, you should avoid creating difficult abbreviations just to make your URL shorter. As easy as they are to remember, they aren’t always foolproof, and having a string of supposedly random letters can make your website look like spam.
Check the Ending
As a commercial organization, you should strive to create a domain name ending in .com. This is the most common top-level domain name ending, along with the easiest to remember. While .com is the preferable ending for a URL, it is not the only available option.
- .net: Typically for internet networks, but used as a popular generic top-level domain.
- .org: Often used by non-profits and industry standard groups, this is a popular generic top-level domain.
- .edu: Only used by academic institutions or organizations that have been institutionally accredited.
- .co: Used by many startup organizations, a less sought-after domain end.
- .us: Used by businesses that brand themselves as patriotic.
- .biz: Used for businesses, a generic top-level domain.
- shop: Used for online stores, a generic top-level domain.
Depending on the style of business that you have, using a different domain ending could be to your benefit. However, it is still the default to remember domains ending in .com.
If you can get your business name as a .com URL only after adding hyphens, it may be smart to go a different route. Hyphens in domain names are often associated with spam, and customers may be tempted to leave to find the ‘real’ website if they see this.
Test it Out
Once you have decided upon a few domain names and endings, it’s time to test them out to see if they are available. Domain names will vary in price due to a variety of factors ranging from reputation to availability, but you can typically expect to spend anywhere from $2 to $20 a year.
Check domain availability online using tools such as GoDaddy or Google. These websites will also allow you to buy your domain name, or put in a bid for it if it is up for sale by a third party.
Make Your Website Perfect
After your business is named and your domain is chosen, all that is left is to create a website that your customers will land on. You have to make sure that your website is fast, optimized, and contains all of the information that potential customers may need in order to retain website traffic. If your website can’t do this, then you’ll be losing out on business opportunities.
At Social Eyes Marketing we want to make sure that your website is perfect for your business. Our websites are functional on all browsers, ADA compliant, and extremely responsive. We create websites that convert, so don’t just wait around to get found online. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our digital marketing experts!