According to contributor Richard Harroch in his article “12 Tips for Naming Your Startup Business” on allbusiness.com, having the right name can help your marketing and branding efforts, whereas having the wrong name can both hinder your efforts to connect with customers and present great business and legal hurdles. Harroch thus provides these 12 tips to create a name for your business:

  • Create a name that’s easy to spell. You want customers to be able to easily find you online and not get confused by its spelling.
  • Don’t pick a limiting name. If you pick a name with a narrow focus, such as “Pete’s Self-Serve Washes” or “San Francisco Detailing,” you limit your ability to grow past a specific product, service or city.
  • Do a web search on the name once you’ve picked it. Chances are, someone else will already be using that name, but while it shouldn’t necessarily stop you from using it, it should make you pause and consider.
  • Acquire the domain name. Harroch suggests purchasing the .com domain name as opposed to .biz, .net or any others. You can check domain name availability on GoDaddy.com or NetworkSolutions.com; if someone already owns it, you can use the “Whois” tool on both websites to see if they are willing to sell. In addition, make sure to get your desired name on all social media sites.
  • Pick a meaningful name. You want to create a name that is meaningful to your business so that people can understand instantly who and what you are. Harroch says, “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.”
  • See if you can trademark it. Conduct a search on USPTO.gov to see whether or not you can get a trademark or service mark for the name.
  • Search the Secretary of State records. Either by yourself or with the help of a corporate lawyer, search these records to make sure your business, which will probably be a corporation or LLC, won’t have a confusingly similar name to a business that’s already registered. The Secretary of State may not allow you to register if the name is too similar.
  • Is the name catchy? While you don’t want a boring name, you also don’t want a name that’s too crazy. You want employees to proudly say without pause where they work, and you want your name to click with your target audience too.
  • Ask for opinions on the name. Come up with five to 10 names and run them by your family, friends, colleagues and some target audience members. Also make sure that your name doesn’t have any negative connotations. Harroch notes, for instance, that when GM named its new model “Nova,” it didn’t realize it meant “doesn’t go” in Spanish.
  • Say the name aloud. Sometimes names written on paper look better than they sound. Also make sure that people don’t get confused as to how the name is spelled when said aloud.
  • Brainstorm with help. Harroch provides a list of websites that can help you generate a name: VisualThesaurus.com; Shopify Business Name Generator; NameMesh.com; and Naminum.com.
  • Are you happy with the name? You’re the one who will have to live with the name for the foreseeable future, so make sure you’re satisfied above all.

Read the full article here.

Related article: Wash Wisdom: Building a company name and reputation