The Ultimate Guide To Naming Your Small Business
Success is the common goal of every small business. It may not be as easy as it seems, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. One of the most crucial elements to success for a small business is its name.
Naming a small business can be fun and exciting, but it’s no simple undertaking as it can also be stressful and time-consuming. Indeed, it will be difficult for you to proceed to the next phase until you find a name that suits your business perfectly.
The name you choose for your small business will be your brand name. This will help your customers and prospects distinguish you from the competition, increase brand recall, and identify your products and services.
When customers see or hear a business name, their minds exhibit different reactions and responses. They may either like the name (a positive response) or hate it (a negative response). Of course, some customers would find it hard to engage in a business with an unappealing name.
A compelling brand name captures your customers’ attention and serves as an essential foundation of your business. To create one, you may use business name lookup tools online or keep reading below to learn how.
What Are The Types Of Business Names?
Most business names fall into different classifications. Thus, it’s important to understand these classifications to determine a name that fits your small business.
Here are the types of business names you should know:
- Initialisms And Acronyms
Initialisms and acronyms use the first letters of a phrase-like or multi-word brand name, but they’re not the same. So, what makes them different from each other, anyway?
Initialisms are brand names pronounced as letters. Some examples are:
- IBM or International Business Machine Corporation
- H&M or Hennes and Mauritz
- M&M’s or Mars and Murrie’s
- 3M or The Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company
On the other hand, acronyms are brand names pronounced as words. Some examples are:
- GEICO or Government Employees Insurance Company
- MAC or Make-up Art Cosmetics
- PAM or Product of Arthur Meyerhoff Cooking Spray
- SPAM or Shoulder of Pork and Ham
Yet sometimes, brand names can be an initialism and acronym at the same time. For example, BMW can be pronounced letter by letter or ‘bimmer.’
- Company Names Using Foreign Languages
Business names can also be based on foreign languages besides English, such as Italian, Japanese, German, etc. However, these names should be used meaningfully and not just because they sound great. Otherwise, it won’t be appealing to English speakers.
For example, Prego—a company famous for making tomato sauce—means ‘you’re welcome’ in Italian. This is a wise use of a foreign language since Italy is known for producing tomatoes and making tomato-based products, such as sauces, pastes, tomato-in-cans, etc.
- Descriptive Names
Descriptive names are business names that describe what the business is all about. These allow your customers to identify your offerings as soon as they see or hear them.
Some examples of descriptive business names are as follows:
- Vintage Artifacts
- Mackie’s Cupcakes
- The Coffee Grounds
- The Weather Company
Descriptive business names are ideal for small businesses with a tight marketing budget. It’s also best used when promoting products and services to target audiences.
However, registering a trademark for this business name can be difficult. This is because the descriptive terms used are too common. So, if you’re planning to register for a trademark someday, it would be a good idea to look for non-descriptive terms instead.
- Suggestive Names
Suggestive business names are somehow similar to descriptive business names. However, it doesn’t directly imply what a particular business offers. It can only give you a glimpse of what that business is all about.
A good example of suggestive business names is Fitbit. It contains the term ‘fit,’ which pertains to fitness. However, you’ll never know what kind of products and services they offer unless you search for them.
- Arbitrary Names
Arbitrary business names are business names that have no direct connection to the products and services a specific company is offering. Customers wouldn’t know what kind of offering you have if you use these for your small business.
Here are some examples of famous companies using arbitrary business names:
Using arbitrary names can be a bit challenging. It requires additional marketing efforts to inform customers about your products and services. Yet the good thing about them is that they’re easy to trademark, thanks to their distinctiveness.
- Fanciful Names
Fanciful names are similar to arbitrary names. They don’t describe the products and services the business offers. Instead of using common terms, fanciful names are made-up terms.
The following are examples of companies using fanciful business names:
Likewise, they’re easy to trademark because they’re special and distinct. However, like arbitrary names, they require extra marketing efforts to make their products and services known to many people.
What Are The Essential Elements Of A Strong Business Name?
A strong and attractive business name has the following elements:
- Appropriateness: If you’re planning to expand your small business globally in the future, make sure that your company name doesn’t hold negative meaning when translated into other languages. For example, the term ‘mist’ means fecal matter in German.
- Imagination: A business name should play with the imagination and wittiness of your customers. Some examples include GoDaddy, Haagen-Dazs, Florist Gump, Thai Tanic, Gay Fish Company, and more.
- Protectability: If you’re planning to trademark your business name in the future, ensure you check whether the name you choose is still available. You may conduct a trademark search before you apply for one to be sure.
- Distinctiveness: The name you choose should differentiate your business from your competitors. If your competitors use descriptive names, then use suggestive names to make your point cleverly.
- Consistency: Make sure you can use your business name when you release your product instead of using other terms. Apple is a good example of a company with consistent brandings, such as Apple Watch, Apple Pencil, etc.
- Lasting: If you’re planning to sell products of different varieties in the future, make sure that your brand name will still be applicable. For example, if Amazon used the name AllWoods, it wouldn’t make sense if it starts selling other things someday.
- Brand Fit: A solid brand name should promote the very essence of the business. A good example is Tesla. This is because it shares the same vision as Nikola Tesla, a brilliant scientist, electrical engineer, inventor, and futurist.
- Sounds Great: A strong business name should feel like music to your customer’s ear. It has to be clever and fun to attract the minds of those who see or hear it. A good example of a company with a pleasing business name is Jamba Juice.
- Concise: A business name doesn’t have to be long. You’d want it to be as short as possible so people can remember it easily. Some examples of companies with short and memorable names are Apple, Sony, Kodak, LG, etc.
What Are The Steps To Naming Your Small Business?
Now that you know what makes a strong business name, it’s time to choose one for your business. Here are the steps to naming your small business.
1. Brainstorm Ideas
Brainstorming will get your creative juices flowing. So, sit down, grab your pens and papers, and feed your brain with loads of ideas with your team.
Your goal is to think of at least four to five catchy names within the specified time limit, around 30-45 minutes. In addition, be sure to brainstorm most comfortably—bring in some snacks, sit on your favorite couch, and use your favorite pen.
You might want to consider the following brainstorming tips:
- Visualize: Think of yourself as a customer and identify the words you want to see in a particular business. Include some adjectives that will help describe the business environment you visualize.
- Free Writing: All you need to do is keep writing until the timer goes off. Don’t put any limit on what you can write. Just focus on jotting down all your ideas, regardless of how they sound.
- Personalize: Think about your personal experiences related to your company mission and brainstorm the words that would connect them.
- Create Rhyming Words: A fun way to name your business is through rhymes. Think of words related to your business and ensure that they sound together. For example, if you want to sell cakes, you may use ‘Lakes O’ Cakes.’
- Synonyms: Grab your big book of thesaurus and look for creative synonyms of different words related to your business. For example, if you’re starting a restaurant, you might need to look for other terms synonymous with delicious, such as savory or scrumptious.
If you need to extend your session, take a break—around 15 minutes—before you start another one. This will help you relax and ease your mind for another brainstorming round.
2. Follow Naming Rules Based On Business Structure
Your business name will depend on the business structure you want to establish. Here’s everything you need to know:
- Formal Business Structures
Formal business structures include limited liability company (LLC) and C-Corporations.
LLCs help protect your personal assets from the liabilities of your business, such as debts, loans, and unpaid tax obligations. If you want to start an LLC, your proposed business name should include the acronyms LLC or L.L.C. (e.g., Silver Spoons and Services, LLC).
Meanwhile, C-Corporations are far more complex compared to LLCs. In most cases, a C-Corporation company is required to include the terms, such as company, incorporated, and limited. However, ensure it doesn’t look like a government entity to be approved by local state offices.
- Informal Business Structures
Informal business structures are those that don’t have to be state-registered. These include sole proprietorships and partnerships.
When it comes to sole proprietorships, businesses have to run under the surname of the owner, which is you. If you want to use a different name for trading, you need to file for a ‘Doing Business As’ (DBA). The same goes for partnerships.
3. Check If It’s Still Available
At this point, you probably have different naming options in place and have already adjusted them based on the business structure you want to establish. Now, it’s time to see if they’re still available.
You may check for a name’s availability by doing the following:
- Check Domain Availability: At some point, you’ll have to create a website for your business to widen your audience reach. Yet before you do so, be sure to check if the domain you want is still available.
- Do Trademark Search: You’ll have to trademark your business name soon, so be sure to check if it’s still available. Use the United States Trademark Electronic System to see if your chosen name is still up for grabs.
If any or all of your options are no longer available, you have no choice but to change them.
4. Register Your Business Name
Now that you have already confirmed the business name you want has an available domain and trademark, you’re ready for the last step—registering your business name.
The registration process is divided into two parts: registering for a trademark and getting an available domain. When applying for a trademark, you must go to your local state offices and submit all the requirements.
However, you’d want to first ensure that your business is state-registered if you want to establish an LLC or corporation. Then, proceed to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to file for a trademark.
After that, immediately build your website with the help of domain registrars, such as GoDaddy, Wix, Squarespace, etc. You may end up with a simple ‘.com’ domain using the chosen business name. Furthermore, you may consider owning alternative names to prevent others from grabbing them.
Starting a small business can be fun, exciting, and challenging, especially when naming it. When you name your small business, ensure you remember the types of business names, the elements of a strong name, and the steps to take to secure one. Hopefully, this ultimate guide can help you produce the most engaging and powerful business name.