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10 tips for choosing a name for your business

naming a business

How to narrow things down

Formulating a business plan is a lot of work, but naming your business can stump any professional even more so than mapping the way forward. You cannot progress in your business without a name, as you need it to buy a domain, build a website, order and distribute business cards, and to market yourself in general. Without a proper business name, you can’t move forward; you stagnate. And stagnation means professional demise. Here are some tips to help you name your company:

1. Start by brainstorming. List all the keywords that relate to you, your business, and the products or services you offer. List as many as you can and in as many variations as possible. Sometimes this simple act can put your creativity into overdrive.

2. Next, research your competitors. What have they named their businesses, and why? It is not recommended that you copy a competitor, rather you should be aware of what is being used to avoid market confusion. Looking at your competitors is all about getting your creative juices flowing. Use it as inspiration.

3. Expand your research. You can continue to find inspiration from all over. Look at businesses not even related to your industry and watch movies with a listening ear and watchful eye. Read books, both fiction and non-fiction. Inspiration is everywhere; you just may be surprised where you find your perfect inspiration.

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4. Experiment with domain names. You obviously can’t buy a domain name if you haven’t yet picked a business name. But, you can see which domain names are available and which ones are currently in use. Usually, when you type in one domain name for purchase, it will give you several related domains as additional options. Also, make sure your business name won’t be embarrassing once it’s used as a domain and the words are pushed together. I’ll spare you the examples.

5. Practice saying it aloud. How do your potential business names sound rolling off the tongue? Are they awkward? Could it be confusing? If yes, stay away from those. You want something unique, but you want it customer-friendly, too.

6. Pick something that’s memorable. With so many businesses to choose from these days, you need a name that will stand out and be remembered. If you have a unique first or last name, consider using that.

7. Give it some flair. Think of the feel you want your business to have. If you want an exotic, mysterious feel, consider using a word or two from a foreign language. If you want the all-American feel, you can make that work, too, just by choosing the right company name.

8. Avoid unnecessary implied associations. You don’t want someone to hear about your business and automatically think of something else, like if you share a name with a mass murderer or a famous politician, for instance. Unless that’s the vibe you’re going for, of course. Again, this step will require ample research.

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9. Understand your future clients or customers. Knowing your target demographic is a great way to settle on the perfect business name. Who are your clientele? What age group are they in? What are their occupations? What do they do during their free time? All these questions can help you choose a business name that will attract these clients and reflect your product or service.

10. Choose something that reflects what you do. Sometimes your potential customers just need a little hint at what you do and what you provide. This hint can be included in your chosen business name. If you own a hardware store, for instance, you’ll want a name that either implies your industry or explicitly names it, like “Chuck’s Hardware Store.”

While there isn’t one right and true way to name your business, the ten guidelines above can lead you to the perfect name. Get creative and enjoy the process. Make sure you love the name before you commit to it. After all, it will be associated with you from here on out. Once you have chosen a great company name, then you’ll have to focus on the legalities of properly registering your business. And that’s a different process entirely.

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Written By

The American Genius Staff Writer: Charlene Jimenez earned her Master's Degree in Arts and Culture with a Creative Writing concentration from the University of Denver after earning her Bachelor's Degree in English from Brigham Young University in Idaho. Jimenez's column is dedicated to business and technology tips, trends and best practices for entrepreneurs and small business professionals.

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