When you’re naming a business, you want something creative and catchy. Something that has meaning and is memorable. It sounds easy enough, but once you decide to start a business, coming up with a name can be tough.
Even the creators of Google had a hard time naming their soon-t0-be-huge business. At first, Larry Page and Sergey Brin—the creators of the well-known search engine—called the site BackRub. When the site started gaining popularity, they realized it needed a better name and came up with Google, which refers to the number 1 with 100 zeros behind it. It’s meant to reflect the infinite amount of information that can be found online. Not bad, right?
To help you come up with a killer name, Tom Morrell, the creative director and part-owner of marketing firm Swell Media Group, offers these tips:
1. Brainstorm a list of words that describe your business
When Morrell started his business, he and his partner sat down with a dictionary in hand and made a list of words they liked. Look for words that describe your business, your mission, or your product. It’s a time-consuming process, but it’s a good way to get some ideas on paper. Don’t come up with one or two ideas; come up with dozens so you don’t have to go back to square one.
2. Check for URL availability
These days, you need a website to succeed, no question about it. Once you’ve created a list of possible names, see if your business name is available as a URL.
“If your clients can’t easily type your name into a web browser, you’re sunk,” Morrell says.
Use a site like GoDaddy, Dreamhost, or Bluehost to check URL availability. You’ll be surprised what names are already taken. Morrell went through dozens of names before he found an acceptable URL to match.
Sometimes the name you want is for sale, but because someone else bought it first, it won’t be cheap to acquire. A lot of names can get knocked off the list at this point, Morrell says.
A .com domain is preferable, Morrell says, because most internet users automatically use that as the default domain, but some businesses are getting creative. For instance, sites with unique endings like Uassist.me are becoming more popular.
Test it out
Once you’ve got a name in mind, stew on it for a bit. When you introduce yourself as the head of this new business, does it sound right? Run it by a few friends and get their input. Do market research and see what your competitors call themselves. Be 100 percent positive that it’s a name you love—not just a name you like.
“Can you see yourself going to work for that name, fighting for, protecting and possibly living with that name for the rest of your working life?” Morrell asks. “If not, choose another name.”
Protect your new name
Before you go public with the name, register it with the state. This will keep others in the state from copying your name. If you want to take it a step further, consider trademarking it. Morrell suggests using a site like LegalZoom to investigate the pros and cons of trademarking.
The most important attribute you’ll need when creating a business name is patience. You’ll go through a lot of options before selecting one, Morrell says, but it’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a new business owner.