Most people’s first exposure to a business is typically the business name and logo. A brand name is a basis around which brand identity is built, but far too often people take cop-outs and choose names like Brandon’s Blogs. We’re going to show you a better approach for how to come up with a business name.
Mike Andes, founder of Augusta Lawn Care, and Lee Smith, owner of Urbanity, gave us some tips on how to choose a business name, and we’re going to share them with you along with some other tips from our experience starting businesses.
We’ll start by explaining the return on investment (ROI) of a name, what makes a good and bad business, and how to pick a name for your business name. Then, we’ll discuss trademarking to protect your brand.
Get ready to find the perfect business name for your new business.
Step 1. Understand the ROI of a name
Most great brands have a company name and logo that are identifiable immediately, but most small businesses either spend too much time thinking about names or create a business name like Mike’s Mangos. Neither of those strategies is the best idea when wondering how to name your business.
Good business names, logos, and reputations can be worth billions. To give you an idea of how important it is, Amazon consistently reports goodwill (an accounting term for the value of the stock above fair market value) at over $14 billion over three years. That is around 7% of their total assets.
Granted most of us aren’t going to build a brand like Amazon overnight, but we should still consider how to name a business and how this adds value to the company through:
- Domain value
- Other branding elements
- Setting the tone of the business
Let’s discuss domains and how they impact names for a small business.
Budget for a domain name
A domain name is what you type in when you want to go to a specific website, such as UpFlip.com. The domain name is used to make it easier for us to remember the web address of a company because using an IP address like 184.108.40.206 would make it impossible for us to find a company name.
Most domain names are fairly inexpensive (as little as $1 per year), but you still need to check when you decide, “I need a company name.” If the domain name is owned by someone else, they can charge a much higher price though. Cars.com was sold for $84 million at one point. Most people can’t afford names for small businesses that cost $84 million, so you need to check with a provider.
Common providers of domain names include:
Most charge an annual fee and can be purchased for up to ten years. Unstoppable Domains allows you to buy domains in the form of an NFT, but this is only something that should be done if you have blockchain experience.
Keep reading for other information that impacts the success of business names.
Understand secondary branding elements
In addition to a catchy business name, there are other key elements that create a value proposition, create a great brand reputation, and lower the cost of customer acquisition.
Other aspects that go into the company brand image include:
- Font of text
- Colors used in logo and text
Keep reading for more information on how these impact how potential customers view a company.
Every business should have a logo. You’ll see many small businesses with more artsy ones, but it is obvious that simple logos tend to do really well for branding. When you think of some of the most iconic brand logos, you’ll probably think of these:
As you can see a company logo can be simple, yet elegant and create phenomenal results.
Mike warned us:
There are plenty of free logo makers. Here are some of my favorite:
EPCGroup did a review of Fortune 500 company logos that I strongly suggest you read before creating your own or hiring a freelancer.
According to the EPC review, 75% of Fortune 500 companies use San Serif font styles, followed by Serif at 19%. That’s not to say that a small business has to use that font, but they are used because of their minimalism, modernism, and ease of reading. MyFonts makes it really easy to view types of fonts by the font style.
If you want to use other font styles, be careful about how readable they are. It can make it harder for people to remember the name of your business if the font is hard to read. No matter how unique a value proposition you offer, if customers can’t read the company names, they can’t search for the website URL.
Keep reading to learn more about using color in your brand naming ideas.
Color is used to evoke emotions. The psychology of colors has been studied since the early Egyptians, and possibly earlier. Depending on what type of emotion you want to communicate, you’ll want your brand logos to be certain colors. The following explains the correlations between color and emotion:
Mike told us:
Here’s a picture of what they looked like:
A slogan is a saying associated with your brand. For instance, Nike’s is “Just do it!” A slogan can help encourage people to think about the brand more and help create brand loyalty. You can file a trademark to protect your slogan as intellectual property.
Mike also pointed out that customer service and how your employees represent the business are also main components in the brand reputation. He mentioned:
To learn more about starting a business, read the intro to starting a business then dig into the sections you want to learn more about.
Step 2. Create a brand name tone
The name of your business will influence how people perceive it. Make sure to make it positive. If it has a negative connotation, it will likely hinder the company.
Mike told us:
Now that you understand some of the elements tied to a business name, let’s look at how to pick a business name.
What makes a good business name?
When considering how to come up with a company name, you want to make sure it meets four primary objectives:
- Check if the business name idea is available.
- Make the brand name unique.
- Create a catchy business name.
- Make your business name easy to say and spell.
- Name using good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices
Let’s look at how each of these impacts the naming process.
Are the business names you want available?
You’ll want to consider whether your business name ideas are available. There are three basic places you’ll want to check:
- Domain availability, which we discussed previously.
- Trademark availability, which can be done on a national or global level:
- National: USPTO
- Global: World IP Portal
- Your local office for registering business names. Just search “where do I get my DBA in (Insert Location)”.
If your business name meets all three of these qualifications, you can add it to the list of potential business names.
Step 3. Make your brand name unique
Unique business names tend to stand out more than using a name like John’s Plumbing. Mike suggested using a name that already has meaning to your target market. He told us:
We also asked Lee about the great business name Urbanity and he told us it means:
Hear more from Lee about brand names and running a boutique in our interview below.
Keep reading to learn how to name a company with a catchy business name.
Create a catchy business name
There are a ton of ways to come up with a catchy business name when wondering “what should I name my business?” Some of the best ways of generating an original business name are:
- Find names that create cool acronyms, like Men’s Apparel Guild in California. They hold the MAGIC Trade Shows for the apparel industry.
- Combine two words like Lee did Urban and City.
- Include words that relate to something that is a long-standing pop culture reference. For instance, a car dealership called Hot Wheels might be associated with toy cars (or stolen goods). It makes a good example, but a bad name.
Those are some of the easiest ways to come up with catchy business names.
Make your business name easy to say and spell
Avoid words that are hard to spell because your target audience might not find your domain extensions if they type your name wrong in the search bar. If you have concerns about whether one of the business names you are considering is hard to spell, just ask family members and friends how to spell it and avoid company names they can’t spell.
Use good SEO practices when naming your business
Search Engine Optimization is focused on increasing where you rank in results on popular search engines. There are some principles that are consistent across all businesses, and some that vary based on the type of business.
SEO best practices for all businesses:
- Use evergreen names: Terms that don’t go out of fashion, e.g. furniture, clothing.
- Use commonly searched terms: Include top searches for your industry. Use Google Trends to find them. For instance, “lawn care” is a commonly searched term for people who need yard work done.
- 32 Character Maximum: Keep your name under 32 characters so it will fit in the tab at the top of Google Chrome. Safari is slightly more at 35 visible characters.
SEO best practices that might apply to your business:
- Location: If you only serve the local community, it makes sense to name a business something like Las Vegas Plumbing, but if you are eCommerce it doesn’t.
- Trending Topics: Most businesses should avoid these, but Spirit Halloween is an example of a business with which it makes sense to include the trending topic “Halloween” because it’s a popup store for Halloween.
Step 4. How to come up with a good business name
Choosing a good business name has never been easier. You can brainstorm or use UpFlip’s name generator. Let’s look at each.
Brainstorm a lot of names
Coming up with a business name can be easy if you already have great ideas for your brand name, but if you don’t you can get name suggestions from a naming team consisting of friends, family, business partners, or customers from existing businesses if you are a serial entrepreneur.
Part of how to find a business name is in discussion with other people. The more people involved, the better odds of finding a killer name. If you want an easier way of generating name ideas for your own business, keep reading for our value proposition.
Try UpFlip’s name generator
We created a business name generator to help current and new business owners find a great business name idea for their new venture. All you have to do is type in some of the words, and our brand name generator will create hundreds of ideas based on the words you write.
I’m not involved with the development of it, but when I tested it while writing this, it gave me 150 different ideas. Try it out and see if you find one you like. It takes out the guesswork in how to create a business name.
Why is our business name generator the best?
Our business name generator is the best available for a couple of reasons:
- It provides more names than other name generators. (We strive to be the only place you go to research any aspect of starting or running a business.)
- It shows you a variety of fonts, colors, and sizes to cover all the aspects of brand identity.
- You can customize the color, size, and text directly in the browser once you find the ones you like.
- It’s free. You’ve got to love that.
- It connects you directly to NameCheap to buy your domain.
- We partnered with Trademark Factory to help our users get trademarked properly and make sure your intellectual property is protected.
Keep reading to learn about trademarking your business.
Step 5. Trademark your business name
When you are ready to apply for a trademark for your business name, the process can be complicated and time-consuming. If it is your first time applying for a trademark for the name of a business, you are likely to make some mistakes. The process I am about to describe is overly simplified; it can take up to 40 man-hours to successfully complete the first time you try. The steps include:
- Filling out an application with:
- Your business information
- What you want to trademark
- Which industry codes (the industry codes are the trickiest part) the trademark should apply to. The site to apply is my.USPTO.gov.
- Paying a fee based on the number of trademarks you are applying for.
- They will verify that your request is eligible for a trademark.
- If the name is not already being used in a commercial application, you’ll have to wait until it is on a product that is capable of being sold. I used screenshots of a website to prove it when I applied.
- Multiple conversations to make sure you provide the right information to the USPTO.
- Proving you are using the trademark for commercial purposes. This can be just a screenshot of the product being sold.
- Trademark will be approved or denied.
We made it easy for you though. Trademark Factory handles all this for you for a flat fee. All you have to do is give a call, pay their fee, and the lawyers handle the whole filing process. 99.3% of their cases have successfully gotten their trademarks. The 1% that didn’t, got a full refund.
Now You Have a Business Name
Now you know how to choose a business name. Once you’ve chosen a name, continue to start your business by reading 17 ways to fund a business or our other HUB articles.
We love hearing how our readers choose their business names. What name did you choose and why?