This article is part of our Business Startup Guide—a curated list of our articles that will get you up and running in no time!
If you’re starting a business, one of the biggest decisions you’ll make is what to name your new company. While the way you choose to register your business will impact the choices you have when it comes to picking what to name your new business, sometimes you may need a little help with the initial brainstorming.
Turning to your business plan to help come up with a name that suits your overall vision is a good place to start, as you’ll be able to get a sense of what kind of name you’re after as part of the planning process.
But sometimes, you might need some outside-the-box inspiration. I’ve compiled a list of top tools and resources for helping you name your small business or startup, from company name generators to sites that will tell you if your current name is already in use.
Let’s get started—this is the fun part!
Tools and resources for naming your business:
1. Play around with keywords using a thesaurus
Using a thesaurus is a great jumping off point for naming your business. If you have an idea that you want your business to convey, but the wording doesn’t quite fit, a thesaurus can help suggest alternatives that might make a great business name.
Let’s say you want to open up a boutique coffee shop in your neighborhood. Using your thesaurus to type in “coffee” will give you synonyms like “caffeine,” “cappuccino,” “espresso,” “java,” “joe,” and so on.
If you’re more of a visual person, Answer the Public is also a good place to start. You can see a word map for the word you enter, which can help you explore and generate new ideas.
2. Try business name generators
I could have written an entire article on business name generators, but that might have been a little one-note.
With that said, there are a ton of business name generators for you to play around with.
Here are a few that come highly recommended and that (based on my informal testing) seemed like good starting points:
- Shopify’s Business Name Generator: This name generator will also tell you if the domain is available as well.
- NameMesh: NameMesh will give you a variety of suggestions in a variety of themes, such as “short,” “fun,” and “SEO friendly.” Again, they are tied to available URLs.
- Naminum: In addition to the similar features the sites above offer, Naminum lets you browse through its list of randomly generated names, which may help get ideas flowing.
- Hipster Business Name Generator: Okay, this one’s just for fun, but it’s pretty clever. While you won’t be able to enter in any specifications, if you’ve ever dreamed of opening up an ironic shop with a name like Wishbone and Sword, you’ll get a kick out of this site—and hey, maybe find some inspiration!
3. Run SEO-based keyword searches
If you’re familiar with SEO, you’ll know that there are lots of ways that you can determine what your customers are searching for online. While this is generally used for advertising purposes and to draw customers to your site, you can take advantage of SEO tools even earlier and use them to help you name your business.
Here are some to try:
- Moz Keyword Explorer: Using the Moz keyword planner will give you an idea of what your potential customers are searching for, which will allow you to tailor your business name to fit the search volume, or just spark new ideas.
- Ubersuggest: Enter a keyword in the search bar, and Ubersuggest will do just what the name implies—suggest related keyword pairings based on an internet search. Not only will it help you generate ideas, it will also show you what popular search terms related to your keyword are—and picking a popular search term will help your business in the long run.
4. Make sure your chosen name is available for use
Run a domain name lookup. The Network Solutions WHOIS database will tell you if your chosen domain name is available, as will many of the sites listed above; however, if you have brainstormed your business name through different means, you’ll want to make sure that an applicable domain is available.
Check the legality of your business name. Check out the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) trademark database, to make sure that your potential business name isn’t infringing on any existing trademarks.
In addition, Google has a search feature that allows you to search existing patents, to make sure you aren’t accidentally using anyone else’s intellectual property.
5. Try these fun sites for inspiration
When coming up with your business name, it’s sometimes a good idea to put practicality on the back burner for a moment and just brainstorm. Here are a few sites that will help you do just that.
- Werdmerge: This “portmanteau generator” is a fun way to get ideas flowing. Type in your keyword, play around with the word combinations, and see if something strikes your fancy.
- Fake Word Generator: Plenty of businesses have used names that aren’t words at all; just look at Zillow, Odeo, and Plaxo. Maybe a creative, made-up word will be just what your business needs to stand out!
- If you’re looking for more unique ways to combine words and phrases with examples from real businesses, this article from The Name Inspector has some great lists.