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5 tips for successfully naming a business

From an entrepreneurial point of view, naming a business is sort of exciting. There are a number of things to think about if you want the process to be smooth and successful.

naming a business

What’s in a name

From an entrepreneurial point of view, naming a business is sort of exciting. It’s one of the first indications that your idea is finally coming to fruition in a tangible way. However, there are a number of things to think about if you want the process to be smooth and successful.

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5 tips for naming success

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to successfully naming your business. And while it’s challenging to offer advice that will work in every situation, the following tips have shown to be useful across many industries. Keep them in mind as you continue this all-important process.

  1. Consider Industry Regulations and State Law

Each state and industry has unique guidelines for how businesses name their companies. However, most share a few things in common. One of the most important things to be aware of is the competition in your industry. When registering catchy business names, you cannot create confusion for the customer. If the name is deemed too similar to a competitor, then you won’t be able to use it.

For example, let’s say there’s already a business in your area with the name “The Cheap Furniture Store of South Carolina.” You likely wouldn’t be able to legally use the name “The Cheap and Easy Furniture Store of South Carolina.”

  1. Check for Trademarks

The second tip is to keep an eye on trademarks. Trademark infringement carries a very steep penalty and is not looked upon lightly by the courts. Before selecting a name, you need to conduct extensive research to ensure it hasn’t been trademarked by another company. You can use the trademark search tool for quick reference, but it’s smart to have a business attorney do some further investigation.

  1. Ensure the Domain is Available

In today’s business landscape, your domain name is almost as important as your brand name. If the domain you want is already registered, then you may want to choose another name.

Domain names should be as simple and memorable as possible. If you can’t get a “brandname.com” URL, then you should think twice about whether or not you really want that brand name. If it’s already taken, you also have to wonder if someone else is preparing to use that name for their own company.

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  1. Pay Attention to Spelling and Simplicity

Spelling is very important when it comes to developing a brand name. While the goal is to develop a unique name, you don’t want it to be so unique that it’s hard to spell or remember. This can cause some big issues down the road.

  1. Avoid Limiting Names

While a unique name is desirable, you don’t want to narrow your focus so much that you limit future growth. For example, the business name “Computers of Anaheim” may sound great when you’re first starting out, but what happens when you decide to grow your brand beyond computers, and open stores outside of Anaheim? It’s difficult to grow with a name that’s limiting.

A better name would be something like “The California Technology Store,” or something to that effect. The ceiling is much higher for a name like this. You’re no longer limited by a particular city or product offering. In the future, you’ll find it much easier to expand and pivot.

Don’t rush the process

The ultimate takeaway is to avoid rushing the naming process. While it may feel like there’s a lot of pressure to quickly brainstorm a name and begin the process of branding, it generally takes time to develop a name that does your business justice.

Remain patient and avoid rushing the process. It’s far better to take a few extra weeks developing the right name than it is to rush into the wrong one and suffer for years to come.

#NamingYourBusiness

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Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Nina from NameRobot

    January 19, 2016 at 3:57 am

    Thank you for the hepful tips on naming, Larry. You made some very important points, both regarding legal issues and future opportunities for the business!

    I’d like to add a few thoughts:

    When creating a name, make sure that it’s not only simple and easy to spell (as mentioned in point 4), but also remember to make it easy to pronounce. You wouldn’t want your customers or even your own employees to struggle with the pronunciation!

    One way to easily avoid limiting future business opportunities with your name (as mentioned in point 5) is not using a descriptive name altogether: Brands like Apple or Google show that non-descriptive names can be turned into very strong brands. Keep in mind that a non-descriptive name need a bit more of initial advertising, though.

    But non-descriptive names have another advantage: You can easily incorporate personal ideas as well: One of your ancestors came from Finland? Then take a look at a Finnish dictionary! You might find gems like “Kaunis” (“beautiful”) or “Loistava” (“brilliant”). Or you’d like to insert yourself into your new family business? Look up the meaning of your given name and use it as input for further name creations!

    Also, be careful to think about possible negative connotations with your new name: You wouldn’t want a company name like e.g. “Vivanus”. While it sounds good at first glance, there’s more in that name than you might notice… 😉 So check your name ideas carefully!

    Have fun finding your name! It’s an exciting journey!

    Cheers
    Nina

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