Updated: Nov 1, 2020
Finding the right name for your startup can have a significant impact on your success. The wrong name can do worse than fail to connect with customers; it can also result in insurmountable business and legal hurdles. In contrast, a clear, powerful name can be extremely helpful in your marketing and branding efforts.
Here are 12 helpful suggestions on how to come up with a winning name for your business:
1. Avoid hard-to-spell names.
You don’t want potential customers getting confused about how to find your business online. Keep it simple.
2. Don’t pick a name that could be limiting as your business grows.
Picking too narrow of a name may cause you problems down the road. Imagine if Jeff Bezos had picked the name “OnlineBooks” instead of “Amazon.” So avoid names like “Wedding Dresses of Toronto” or “Cranberry Sauce Inc. You don’t want to limit your business to a particular product or a specific city.
3. Conduct a thorough Internet and social media search.
Once you have determined a name you like, do a web search on the name and social media search to make sure the handle is available. More often than not, you will find that someone else is already using that business name. While that won’t be a total showstopper, it should give you pause.
4. Get the .com domain name.
My strong preference is that you secure the “.com” domain name for your business rather than alternatives such as .net, .org, .biz, or other possible domain extensions. Customers tend to associate a .com name with a more established business. Undoubtedly, someone will already own your desired .com name, but many domain owners are willing to sell their name for the right price.
Think of acquiring the .com name you want as a business investment. You can check on the availability of a domain name on sites such as GoDaddy.com or NetworkSolutions.com, and if the domain name is taken, you can often track down the owner of the domain name and see if they are willing to sell it by using the “Whois” tool at GoDaddy or Network Solutions.
Also make sure to grab your desired business name on popular social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.
5. Use a name that conveys some meaning.
Ideally, you want the business name to convey something meaningful and positive related to your business. Can people instantly get what your business is about? While meaningless names like “Google,” “Yahoo,” or “Zappos” have some appeal due to their catchiness, these kinds of names will cost you a lot more to brand.
I named my business Gabe & Angel after my twin babies Gabriel and Angeline as they are my source of inspiration and family is what I value the most. It' also speaks of the way I like building relationships with my clients and colleagues like they are family.
A domain name like “OnlineTickets.com” is genius as it conveys the meaning of the business and is helpful for search engine optimization purposes.
6. Get feedback on the name.
Come up with 5 or 10 names and then run them by friends, family members, and trusted colleagues. Get feedback from your target audience as well. And make sure that the name doesn’t have any negative connotations (such as when GM named its new car model the “Nova” without realizing that the name meant “not going” in Spanish).
7. Use resources available for brainstorming names.
There are a number of sites that can help you brainstorm names, including:
VisualThesaurus.com (gives you a visual around a keyword)
Shopify Business Name Generator (generates business name ideas and checks domain availability simultaneously)
NameMesh.com (provides a startup company name generator)
8. Conduct a trademark search.
Do a search to get an idea as to whether you can get a trademark or service mark for the name.
9. Make sure you are personally happy with the name.
You as the business owner will have to live with the name for a long time, so make sure you are happy with it and believe it will resonate with your customers. Take the time to get it right from the start
Still struggling to come up with the perfect name for your business? Then, let's chat!