How to Create a Business Name

Learn naming strategies to help you come up with the perfect business name. After you have chosen a name, register it legally and on social media. If you are securing a highly-demanded website name, it costs only $125 to claim your name.

Once you have chosen your business name, it is time to register as a legal entity in your state. Registering will not only secure your business name, but also protect your personal assets in the event of a lawsuit against it. IncFile makes it easy to register your business online quickly and securely. You can protect yourself now for no cost plus the state fees.

Go to Incfile

In just four steps, you can create a business name.

1. Brainstorm Ideas for Your Business Name

Brainstorming is the research phase for naming your business. Research competitors and study various business names. Exercises that stimulate creativity are also necessary. This will make it much easier to name your business. You won’t need to stare at a blank sheet of paper trying to think of a name.

Research Competitors

For several reasons, it is important to check out the business names of your competitors. You wouldn’t want a name that is similar to your competitor’s. This would confuse your customers and Google when they try to determine which businesses should be shown in search results.

Second, your business name should reflect the industry names. Your name may be unique and stand out from your competitors. Although you don’t want your name to be a reminder of your competitors, it is important that you create a name that blends in with the rest of your customers. You run the risk that potential customers won’t be able to identify what you do.

Look for successful companies in large cities around you. If your company is internationally based, look into successful companies in countries abroad. This will help you to understand what names are most successful in your industry.

These are the questions to ask when researching competitor names:

  • Are they entertaining?
  • Is there an initial?
  • How many words are there?
  • Are letters missing?
  • Can they be understood easily?
  • Is the owner’s name included?
  • Is there a combination?
  • Are they a clue to the business’s future?

During this stage of research and brainstorming, feel free to take notes. You can take a piece of paper with you and draw names on it. You don’t need to do this in a pre-planned way. This exercise is meant to encourage creativity and help you come up with the perfect name.

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Name and branding strategies for businesses

After you have done extensive research on your competitors, it is time to start learning about business naming strategies. Local-based businesses often add your address to their name. A portmanteau is another way to create a new word. It combines two words.

Brian Rowe, Founder & CEO of Perceivent “Naming a company can be difficult, but it shouldn’t be difficult. It should be unique and memorable. It shouldn’t limit the reach of customers or sabotage future expansion plans. It should reflect the brand’s values and key distinguishing factors.
–Brian Rowe is the founder and CEO of Perceivent.

These are some common business naming strategies.

Acronym

An acronym is an abbreviation that is formed from the first letters of words. It is pronounced like its own word. An acronym is a way to give a more detailed meaning to a shorter name. CVS is an acronym for Consumer Value Stores. CVS is more popular and memorable than Consumer Value Stores. But, internally, the name is more accurate to describe what the company does.

An acronym is a way to make your name easier to spell if you have a complicated name. It is important to have a simple business name that is easy to spell when someone searches for your business on Google. It is not a good idea to lose a customer simply because someone typed the wrong name in Google.

Use compound words

Complementary words are words that combine two words. They make your business name stand out and communicate what you do. BarkBox, for example, is a subscription service for dog treats and toys that comes in a box. Skillshare provides online training, which allows experts to share their knowledge.

Portmanteau

When you combine words and sounds, you create a portmanteau. This creates a unique term that is not usually found in the dictionary. Yelp, for example, is a combination “Yellow Pages”, “help” and “help”.

Your own name

Your business can be instantly made unique by adding your last or first name. If you plan on being the face and voice of the company, it is a smart idea to include your name. If your business’s story revolves around a problem that you solved, it might be worth adding your name.

Lori Cheek, Founder & CEO of Cheek'd 

“Growing up in the family with the last name Cheek was a painful experience (excuse the pun), but eventually it came in handy. Before I launched my business, I struggled to find the right verb to complete the sentence, “you’ve always _____.” Then, one day, it hit me: “Cheekd!” Wikipedia now has the word. Despite my business going through many iterations, users can now press the “GET CHEEKY” button to find out more about their fellow app users and start a conversation.
–Lori Cheek, Founder & CEO, Cheek’d

Mythology

Mythology can give your business a deeper meaning. Midas, for example, is the king of Greek mythology with a golden touch. Midas repairs cars. Midas is a company that repairs cars. However, if you look deeper, you’ll see that they are a superior car care provider and have incorporated the mythological story into the tag line “Trust Midas Touch.”

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Drop a letter

If your company name is common, the domain name and social media profiles will likely be taken. To make your name unique, you might consider dropping a letter, such as a vowel, from your company name. Tumblr, for example, is a social media site. They would compete in Google with people searching for the tumbler cups if they dropped the “e”.

Add Numbers

Adding numbers to your business name can make it unique. Forever21 could have used words to replace the number 21 such as beautiful, young, or love. But 21 is what makes them stand out from the rest.

Based on location

Your business can be instantly separated by putting the name of your city, your ZIP code, or your city nickname in the title. You could, for example, add Jax to the title of a Jacksonville fitness center. Or, 305 Fitness if your business is located in Miami.

Scott Fish, Chief Marketing Officer of Off Road 

“Gone are those days when weirdly spelling company names was common. Today, a mobile-friendly, shareable domain name is the norm. Shorter business names are also more popular. If you are looking to rank for keywords like Vancouver lawyer or Portland Plumbing, it can help with SEO [search engine optimization].
–Scott Fish, Chief Marketing Officer, 32deg Digital

You might be wondering, “How can I come up with these words?” Now that you are familiar with your competitors and the different names they have, it is time to start thinking about possible business names.

Exercises to come up with business names

You can use exercises to help you create memorable business names. These strategies may have helped you narrow down your options for the type of business name that you would like to create. You can start with the word concepts that are relevant to your industry, and then combine them to create a new name. An online tool can be used to get inspiration.

Create Word Concepts

Writing down terms that are related to your industry is the first step in finding words for your business name. Get a thesaurus and write down at least 50 words or concepts that are related to your industry. Do not worry if the words don’t appeal to you. Just write them down.

Let’s take, for example, the opening of a pest control business. You can brainstorm 30 words or concepts like pest, roach, insect and legs. Visual words that can be visualized in the heads of your customers are a great way to make your name memorable.

Combining Your Word Concepts

Once you have a list, begin to combine them. You can use the following word naming strategies: Add your location, drop a letter, or the portmanteau. Combining words and phrases will give you at least ten possible business names. Buginator, a name that is not in the dictionary, comes to mind when you use the words.

If you don’t have an idea, don’t be discouraged. You might need to go back to your list multiple times before names start to come to you. You may also find inspiration by revisiting your list every day. While you sleep, your brain will be working on names.

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Technology for Business Naming

business name generator software is a great option if you are having trouble coming up with names. Name generator software makes different combinations using its word database. Even if the results aren’t what you expected, they may inspire a new creative idea.

The portmanteaur tool is great for helping with portmanteaus. This tool allows you to combine words in unique ways to create memorable business names.

2. 2.

After you have compiled a list with at least 10 business names, it is time to narrow down the options and get feedback from others. If you have trouble coming up with a name or you find the names confusing to your friends, family and potential customers, you may need to hire branding experts.

Keneta Anderson, Owner of Keneta Anderson Consulting 

“Think about your name as a potential partner in business. It is important to select the right partner for your company, not the one you love the most. Small businesses often make the biggest mistake of choosing a name that is too personal, rather than one that has meaning and functionality.
–Keneta Anderson, Owner, Keneta Anderson Consulting

Reduce down to three business names

It is hard to test ten names so it is best to limit your list to three. You should rank your top three favorite names from least to most. Ask yourself some questions to narrow down your choices. Is it fun to pronounce the name? Are you able to pronounce the name without having to stumble? Do you feel proud to use the name?

Get feedback

You now have three business names from which to choose. Now it is time to solicit feedback from family and friends as well as potential customers. Instead of asking people to rate your business name, you might include it in your elevator speech.

An elevator speech is a 30-second description of your business’s purpose. The elevator speech should not exceed four to five sentences. Your elevator pitch can be a great way to communicate your message clearly and concisely. It also shows confidence. Your elevator pitch coach recommends that you repeat your speech daily until it becomes a habit.

Lee Dyson, Owner of Hey Mister DJ 

A good business name should be memorable, catchy, and entertaining. It should also speak to your target market. It is no accident that Google, Yahoo, and Bing have fun names. They’ve done extensive research to find out which combinations of vowels, consonants and vowels “tickle the mind” and which ones “stickiness factor” increases your chances of being remembered.
–Lee Dyson Owner, Hey Mr DJ

Wait a week, then ask those who gave feedback whether they still remember your business name. It’s a good sign if they remember your business name. It may be a smart idea to use one of the two other business names.

Also, you should look for a name which elicits emotion in the person to whom it is being addressed. An expression of curiosity, such as a smile, laugh or furrow, is a sign. Google, for example, is a strange name that does not describe it as a search engine, but can inspire curiosity.

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Hiring a branding expert

If you are still having trouble coming up with a name for your business after following the steps above, it is time to get a branding expert. Numerous branding professionals offer business naming services. They can also design logos, create messaging and create a brand identity with colors and fonts. For as little as $50 an hour, a freelance branding expert can be hired. Professionals with years of experience could charge more than $10,000.

Dave Clark, Cofounder of Novanym

 “Our names are designed with brandability and in mind. Brand names that work are not literal descriptions of the business or words. They are memorable words that have personality, style and character.
–Dave Clark, Cofounder, Novanym

3. Verify if the business name is taken

Once you have chosen your preferred business name, it is time to find out if anyone has taken it. You should not commit to a single name, as someone might have already taken it. You can legally claim business names that have been registered in a state. It may be more difficult to claim a social media domain name because they don’t expire.

Search for State Registration Businesses

The state maintains a list of all registered business names. These names are required to be registered so that customers can locate the information they need in order to file a complaint. If your state has an income tax, another reason is to collect state taxes. To check if a business registered under your preferred name, you will need to search. Also, you need to search for fictitious business names (also known as a doing business as)

If someone is looking to start a new business, or change their business name without having to change their registered business name, a fictitious or DBA name can be used. Use your state’s registry of business names to conduct a state search. This search can be done online through an online program called SunBiz. These databases often combine both registered and fictitious business names so that you don’t need to perform multiple searches.

SunBiz business search combines registered business names with fictitious names for quicker research

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Trademark Name Search

A trademark is an officially registered name or symbol. There are two types: federal and state trademark filings. If a business owner is worried about their logo or name being used by another person, they will usually file the federal trademark registration. This is more costly but offers greater protections. Only the state where you are registered can enforce your state registration.

Go to the United States Patent and Trade Office website and perform your search. It may not be easy to determine how similar a logo or business name is to another, and whether there has been any infringement. An attorney can help you determine if your business name is infringing on another’s.

Look for the registration of a trademark in your state on the official state business registration page. The state registration usually doesn’t give you additional enforceable protections. Public use of your name gives you enforceable copyright. If you think there might be a legal issue with a competitor, your registered trademark will have a stronger position in the court of your state.

Deborah Sweeny, CEO of MyCorporation.com 

“If you have an already-known business name, run a name search to determine if it is available. Also, check if there are any trademark applications for that name. You can claim the name by filing a trademark registration if it is already available.
–Deborah Sweeny, CEO, MyCorporation.com

Search for Website Domain Name

The website domain of your business is the name of the website, such as www.yourcompany.com. It may be difficult to find a domain name if you have the same business name. Local-based businesses often add their state or city to their domain names. For example, if you operate a lawn care business in Charlotte, North Carolina, instead of www.lawncare.com, which is already owned, you can register www.charlottelawncare.com.

You can search for domain names by visiting a website such as Bluehost. You can try a different extension if your name is already taken. The popularity of.co is increasing, particularly among tech-oriented companies.

Local Online Name Search

It is possible that your business’s name is similar to another local business. Potential customers may find it confusing if they search for your business’s name with another populate. Established businesses websites will show up in Google. Google attempts to understand the search terms of a user, but it doesn’t always do it correctly. Google will give you an indication of the Google search results that match your proposed business name.

Let’s take, for example, the possibility of opening a coffee shop called Lilly’s. It would be registered as Lilly’s Coffee Shop. Another business, Lilly’s Boutique Store, is non-competing. Your customers will search Google for “Lilly’s”, and you will be competing with them for that search term. You may want to consider changing your business name if you find yourself in such a situation. Your business will struggle to rank above them.

Search is handled by social media

You will need to do the final name search on the social media platforms that you use. You may need to register a handle for platforms such as Instagram. A handle is similar in structure to a domain name and starts with the “@” symbol. A handle might be @charlottelawncare, or @lillyscoffeshop. Facebook and other social media platforms require that you claim both a page title and a handle.

It doesn’t mean that you have to use your name on every social media platform. If you’re opening an accounting business, for example, you won’t require a Pinterest account. Every business should have a Facebook and Instagram page. Even if these platforms are not your first choice, it is wise to claim them now before anyone else.

4. Claim your business name

Once you’ve done your research and found that your name is available for purchase, it’s now time to claim your business name. There will be a cost for several steps in claiming your name. Costs for registration vary depending on the type of domain you are registering. A basic business registration can cost $150, a complex trademark may cost $10,000, and a website domain name that is highly sought-after might cost $100,000.

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Register your business name

Go to the official website of your state for business registrations. It usually costs $150 to register your state-issued business name and entity. Your state website might be difficult to navigate and confusing. You can find the website for your state’s business registration site difficult to navigate by going to an online legal service. This is easier to use.

IncFile makes it easy and user-friendly to register a business. It can also help you determine the type of business entity that you wish to register. Register your business now for $49 plus applicable state fees.

Visit IncFile

Register a Trademark

You can register your business name online at the USPTO website if you are doing it yourself and not having an attorney. Follow the steps to apply for trademarks by going to the USPTO official webpage. You can apply for a trademark between $275 to $400 depending on which type of application you have.

Buy Your Domain Name

To purchase your domain name, you can use a domain company like Bluehost. A domain name typically costs between $10 and $15 per year. You will be charged an additional $100 per year if you choose to use a different domain extension such as.co or even.biz.

It is possible that someone already has a website but purchased the domain name. This scenario could be an opportunity to purchase the site at a discounted price. The cost of a domain that isn’t in high demand can be as low as $50, or more than $100,000 for one that is.

Matthew Ross, Co-owner & CEO of MySlumberYard.com “A lot of small business owners forget to consider the domain that will go with their business name. Small business owners should think about domains before they settle on a name for their company. This is the one mistake that my business partner and me made. Before we thought about the domain, we settled on a name and had logos and media completed. We had to settle for a slightly alternative URL because the domain we wanted was no longer available. Although we are still reeling from this mistake, it was a valuable lesson.
–Matthew Ross is the co-owner and CEO of MySlumberYard.com

Claim Your Social Media Profiles

Visit each social media site to claim your profile page and handle name. Then, create an account. For ease of use, we recommend that you claim your social profiles on the computer and not on your mobile phone. Keep track of all your passwords and login names.

Before you can create a business account, you may need to have a personal account on social media. A personal Facebook account is required to claim a Facebook page for your business. Your personal account will not be associated with your business Page.

Claiming your social media profiles doesn’t cost anything. You might find that your preferred profile username has been claimed. This is a problem that you can fix by changing your social media profile name. For example, CoffeeShopReno or ColdBrewReno.

You could offer to buy the name of someone who has claimed your desired name on social media platforms. People will be willing to sell inactive pages or handle names for the right price. You can appeal to social media platforms to get the page name if it is not active. This is rare and will not be given until your company is well-known in the U.S.

For Naming a business, here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs).

This section answers the most common questions regarding how to create a business name.

How do I create a unique business name?

Combining words and numbers in a new way is the best way to create a unique business title. Combining two words, such as BarkBox, a subscription service for dog treats and toys, can create a unique business name. Or, you can combine words to create a new word. This is called a portmanteau. A portmanteau is Netflix, which is a combination of Netflix (net) as well as movies and flicks (flix). These words are creative and require thought, but they will be unique to your business.

Can I use the same name for both my business and another?

You can use the same name for a small business as another. You cannot have the same name for a business that serves customers in the same area or is within the same industry. Only one business name can be registered in a given state.

If you sell products or services in an area where there is already a similar business, it could be considered copyright infringement. It is a good idea to consult a business attorney if you discover another business that uses the same name in your area or industry.

How can I find out if my business name has been trademarked or copyrighted?

Copyright protection is available to any business that uses a name. To receive legal protection in addition to copyright, you should register a federal and state trademark. You can search for a state trademark by visiting the official trademark search site of your state. Go to the USPTO website to search for federal trademarks. It’s best to consult a business attorney if you are unsure if your business name infringes upon a brand.

Bottom line

If you follow our step by step guide, naming a business does not have to be complicated. Your business name is the first thing potential customers will see about your company. Make it memorable and unique. You can research your competitors to find names that aren’t in use. A business name can be as low as $125, or as high as $100,000 for a highly-respected name.