Naming your business

Although a rose by any other name will still smell as sweet, names have an important place in our society. They are important for communication and sometimes for memory.

When it comes to naming a business, you are trying to find a name that is:

  • Memorable
  • Easy to say
  • Easy to spell
  • Creates a certain feeling when it is heard

Coming up with a great name is not the easiest thing to do. It takes hard work and a lot of time. Here is a quick how to guide to get you started.

Write down all the words that you can associate to your business. They might be feelings, ideas, missions or goals.
Using a thesaurus, look for words that are similar to the words you have used, have a good ring to them and are less common.
See how you words sound in other languages.
Start playing with combinations of your words and partial works. Write down some of the names you come up with.
Once you have a large list of words, start to remove the words that obviously do not suit your business. Have a break and see if you still feel the same way about the words when you come back.
Get someone you trust to help go over the words and what they think of each one.
Without looking at your list, see which of the names and words you can remember.
With the help of a friend, make a list of the top words and throw out any that do not fit.
Check Trademarks
Make sure no one is using that name in your line of business. You may be able to use the name in a completely different business, but be aware that it may create confusion for both you and them.
Check domain names
You want to make sure that an appropriate domain name is available. You want YourCompanyName.com, of course. If that's not available, you may want to reconsider.
Search the internet
Even if someone doesn't have the domain, you still want to see what else is out there that has the same name. That doesn't mean you don't use it if you find something, but you need to know.
Check company names
If you're planning to incorporate, check with the Secretary of State (or other appropriate office outside the U.S.) of the state you're planning to incorporate in.
Check assumed names
For sole proprietors, check for local assumed names (also known as DBA). In the U.S., you check this with the County Clerk.
Stake your claim
Register your assumed name or file your incorporation papers right away. Also, start using either TM (trademark) or SM (service mark). You do NOT have to register them to use them.
Get the domain(s)
Find an inexpensive registrar and register your domain and any obvious variations on it. You shouldn't be paying more than $10 a year for each, and at that, it pays to prevent poachers.
Protect your brand
A U.S. trademark or service mark costs $325. It's a drop in the bucket compared to trying to defend it later. It's not really necessary, though, for a small local business.


  1. Avoid generic names based on names, such as Joe's Bar, Sam's Hardware, etc. They're not memorable and are nearly impossible to trademark.

  2. Avoid generic names that literally describe the product or service, like Computer Consulting Company, Appliance Sales and Service, Inc., etc.

  3. Generally, avoid geographical names. Besides not generally being very memorable, what happens if you decide to move or expand? The exception is if you're trying to create a strong local affinity like, say, a neighbourhood bar.

  4. Preferably, don't restrict future product or service lines. Be broad enough to include your wildest long-term vision for the business.

  5. Try to keep the name short and easy to pronounce.

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