How to Choose a Business Name

  •    Kelly is a freelance SEO consultant based out of Washington D.C. She has worked for Philadelphia marketing agencies and writes for several lifestyle sites.

Taking the first step toward starting your own business isn’t easy—between startup capital and securing a location, a lot of decisions are involved. One of the biggest choices will be how to choose a business name, and finding the right name isn’t always easy.

As a new business, you want your name to reflect your mission statement, values, and culture. You also want a name that’s unique, memorable and long-lasting. It’s a lot to consider, which is why the naming and branding process for a new business can sometimes take longer than writing your entire business plan. But since your business name is the first impression your brand makes on potential customers, it’s a choice that can have a real impact on the growth of your business.

Here are a few tips for choosing the perfect business name:

Tip #1: Understand what a good name is

This is an easy place to start—look at your favorite brands or brands that have caught your eye in the past. Usually you’ll find that simple is better, but you also want a name that lends itself to wordplay for marketing purposes and that is catchy so people can remember it. For example, The Box Bros have a clever name that incorporates their products (custom boxes) and the story behind their business (two friends from California) to create a memorable name for their brand.

Tip #2: Make lists, lists and more lists

Start with a list of keywords that reflect who you are, what you do, and how you do it. You can use a combination of keywords from different lists, or settle on one strong keyword to represent your business.

Tip #3: Check for copycats

You might land on a great name only to find that it’s being used by another company. Be mindful of similar domain names or any copyright issues.

Tip #4: Use your industry in your name

A new company has to rely on word of mouth and organic presence much more than brand. When you’re starting out, including your business purpose (like “investment company” or “bakery”) in your business name can help people find you online. It’s not difficult to understand what Kuju Coffee offers, with a brand name that is both memorable and provides context for its products.

Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Business Name

In addition to the do’s, there are plenty “don’ts” when you’re choosing a business name:

  • Don’t: Rush your decision. A good name takes time and thought.
  • Don’t: Choose words that misrepresent your business. Inspiring words like “Fortitude” or “Summit” may sound powerful, but they don’t apply to all businesses.
  • Don’t: Choose hard to spell words or phrases. The idea is to be memorable both in-person and on the web.
  • Don’t: Stay stuck on one name. If you aren’t getting the traffic or brand recognition you need, keep your mind open to rebranding.

​Business Name Case Study: ClearDocs

Choosing a name for a legal documentation business sounds like a daunting task. It’s hard to choose something “catchy” for a document-creating company, so it was up to the founders to choose something short, simple, and memorable.

The founder, Christopher Balmford, started with his objectives: a name that was meaningful, long-lasting, and unique. Shying away from the typical industry use of acronyms and making sure the name they chose could roll off the tongue, Christopher proposed ClearDocs as the name to achieve all 3 of these goals.

In addition to finalizing the name, the company had to verify that it was available--unlike their first choice, ClearComm. Thus, ClearDocs was born and many similarly-named competitors have entered the market since its registration.

Choosing a business name can be one of the most important decisions when starting your new business. Not only will it reflect the branding of your company, but it’s the first step in creating a website for your business.