The name of your business can make or break you. Have you ever come upon a business that seems on the up and up at first, but for some reason the business name bothers you and makes you less confident about the business's ability to deliver? Don't let a simple name be the reason why you can't win business. Instead, be sure that the business name you choose is based on thorough research and planning.
Items you will need
- Pen and paper or a word processing program to write down ideas
- Clear understanding of your business, customer and product or service
- Website for your state's corporation bureau
Research other businesses like yours to see what names they have chosen. Write down or type in the names of the businesses who seem to be the most successful. Keep these successful business names in mind as you brainstorm.
Decide how you want people to find your business. For example, if you are a family-owned business and want people to find you based on your name and reputation in the community, then, of course, your business name should include your last name (e.g. Donatello & Sons). If you want people to find you based on a random search for your type of service or product online, then be sure to include the name of the product or service in your business name and be as specific as possible (e.g. Ray's Refurbished Auto Parts).
Determine what will be the theme of your business. Do you want to be seen as a serious business that people can come to advice or a fun, lighthearted business that makes customers laugh? Depending on your answer, you will want to integrate that theme into your business name (e.g. Wacky Dave's Electronics).
Using your answers from steps 2 and 3, decide on 10 possible names for your new business. They don't have to be perfect; you can tweak them later.
Do a search on the U.S. Patent and Trademark search site to see if any of the business names on your list have been taken. Promptly scratch those that are taken off of your list.
Do a search on your state's corporation bureau Website to see if another business in your state is operating under that name. You can usually find this information by doing a search for "fictitious business names in" and insert your state's name at the end. If there is another person in your state with that name, cross it off.
Tweak and improve the remaining list of names and then run them by your family and friends to see which one they respond to positively.
Make your final decision based on two factors: Can people easily find your business based on its name? Does the business name represent the personality of you and your company accurately?
Write all of your brainstorms down on paper. Even the ones that seem silly; you might be able to build on them. Keep your business name as short as possible. Make sure that people can easily pronounce and spell your business name. This will be crucial when it comes to getting referrals.
Never directly copy off of someone else's business name; especially one that is in your area. This technique can backfire when people confuse your business with another. Don't use a business name that is listed on the U.S. Patent & Trademark Website as trademarked (especially when the business types match) because there is always a possibility that your business name will be disputed by the rightful owner. For example, no one else in the U.S. can call their french fry and burger company McDonald's without risking serious legal action.