Selecting just the right name for your new life’s endeavor is definitely not as simple as it may seem. In reality, the name of your business is the first impression you’ll make on your new customers and it’s the very basis for the brand you’ll be working to build.
The best way to begin the process of selecting the perfect name for a new business is to start with a nice big list of possible ideas. Sitting down and brainstorming keywords, phrases, and topics related to your business can be a very productive course of action. Be playful with this process and toss around even those seemingly ‘weird’ names. Don’t be afraid to ask friends or family their opinion on possible names or what they think about your own list of possibilities.
Here are four critical aspects to consider when selecting the perfect business name:
1. Keep it fresh
“Kate’s Coffee Shop” is a fine name I suppose; it’s clear as to what the business is, and it’s fair to assume that Kate owns it. A simplistic name could also be considered traditionally endearing. This is true, but it’s not likely going to catch anyone’s attention off the street. The name of the business should serve as a clear distinction from others within the same industry and emphasize the particular unique attributes of the business. Maybe Kate would want to consider something more playful like, “The KT Café.”
Being creative with the name of your new business means that you may even want to think about creating a brand new word to represent your company. Using a play on words or using an acronym can be a fun way to incorporate multiple meanings into a concise name. No matter what the decision on the name of your business, be sure you love it!
2. Leave wiggle room
As with anything in life, you never know where the future may lead. It’s important to be sure that the name of your new business will not serve to one day inhibit the growth of the company. It’s helpful to have a name that is descriptive about what the business sells or does, but it’s also important to not allow that name to limit future expansion. It’s impossible to tell what the future may hold for any industry, so this bit of advice in selecting a business name is a bit hard to tack down.
If you’re dead-set on a name and afraid it might be a bit too narrow for the growth you foresee in the future, you may want to look into registering as a corporation, LLC, etc. under one name and additionally registering a DBA (doing business as) within that corporation with a more narrow name. This option will always allow you to legally use both in the future.
3. Make it sing & make sense
The name of a business should roll off the tongue, capture attention and be memorable. This tip is best served with an example: Say you were opening a new breakfast joint and you decided to name the restaurant “Bacon.” That’s a pretty great name, right? It’s fair to think that most breakfast-goers enjoy bacon and the concise and somewhat whimsical nature of the name will likely attract passersby on Sunday mornings. Even better, customers would likely remember the name because of the simplicity. Just imagine customers talking about the new restaurant:
“We’re headed out to breakfast, would you like to join us?”
“Sure, where to?”
“We’re going to try the new place downtown, Bacon!”
“I love bacon, so I should love this place! Let’s go!”
Now that everyone is in love with the name, you’d better deliver on the product! Customers will come in expecting a phenomenal plate of bacon, so don’t disappoint.
4. Time for the research
Once you’ve narrowed a decent sized list of possible names it’s time to start the research for the final decision. Take your list, sit down at your computer, and let the research begin. A good start is to simply Google the names on your prospective list. If anything comes up or is just too close for comfort, you’ll probably want to cross that one off the list. If it’s one that you were really pulling for, it may still stand a chance. It depends a lot on the industry, what the name is currently being used for, and by whom.
Next, check out the Secretary of State or Corporation Commission office website in your state to see if there’s already record of a company in your state with the same name. All of this information is digital these days, and it’s relatively simple to search for existing names. Don’t forget to double check if there is a DBA registered under that same name as well. This may be a separate search for this depending on your state. If you come across one of your prospects as actively registered, you’ll definitely need to cross that one off – it’s taken.
Now that your list has likely dwindled to a few options, you may want to run the remainders through the U.S. Trademark Office’s database to see if there is any sort of product or registered name that you may be infringing upon. The last thing you’d want is to be an up and running business and be legally forced to change your name. Ouch.
While your business name is a serious decision, there’s no need to panic. The name of your new baby won’t make or break its success. It’s just important to remember not to make too light of this process. Once you pick the name it can be extremely expensive and detrimental to go back and change it.