How To Name Your Business

One of the more popular questions I receive from aspiring entrepreneurs, is how to come up with a business name. I'll share my suggestions to help you, and give you some general rules to ensure that you pick an excellent business name.

Be Creative

Do some brainstorming. Write down several 1-syllable words that you feel represent your product or service. Write down as many as possible, whatever comes to mind. Then, try combining two words to create something. Shorter, easy to spell words are the best. Also, think of all the businesses out there that are now made up words. Google, Uber, Waze, YouTube, Facebook are all made up words, which didn't exist in the past. But, with powerful branding, everyone knows them. It is important to realize that your business name should also become your website address. You'll want a website address that is as short in character length as possible, easy for people to remember, and something that could easily be spelled if you said the website name to someone verbally. When people can't remember the business name or website, they won't try searching for it, either.

Avoid Your Home

I typically suggest that you avoid using regional specific business names. While that worked well in the past, it doesn't serve the digital age well. In fact, having a regional name could limit your customer reach outside of the region in your name. "Houston Tires", "Nashville Apparel", "Ohio Electronics" could give the perception that you only cater to a local market, and are potentially too small. If you want customers outside of your city, and state, then avoid using those in the name. If you have dreams of franchising your idea across the country, then certainly avoid regional naming.

Website Research

Now that you've come up with a few ideas for business names, you must test them on a domain register. That is a fancy name for a company that will sell you the rights to the website address, also known as the "domain name". I prefer to purchase and host my website domain names. Go to their front page and type in your business name idea into the "Search Domain" box, to see if someone already has that website address, or if you can purchase it. Try to avoid using any hyphens or underscores in any website address. An example, is better than, because you can't verbalize a hyphen when speaking the name to someone. It also sounds dumb, when you try to. "My website is iconic hyphen services dot com". Also, you will only want domain names that end with .com or .net, none of the other silly ones. These are perceived to be more professional, legitimate websites. Buy both .com and .net variations of your name, if available, to keep someone else from cloning your site. You can make both addresses redirect to your business page, later. If the website isn't available, I'd say to move on and try some other names. This is very important! Those made up words that were mentioned earlier, are a direct result of website branding purposes. They wanted to have a short, memorable website address. You'll find that many of the names you thought you were creative at making, are already taken. This is why they resort to making up words.

In summary, the most important factors for a creating business name, in this digital world:

  1. Is the website address (known as a "domain name") available to purchase? Only .com or .net should be used, as the perception is that these are more professional.
  2. The name can be a unique or made up word. Nobody used to know what a Google, Uber, or Facebook was.
  3. Is the name easy to remember, and easy to spell without someone having to ask how to spell it? This is important for verbal communication to customers.
  4. Is the name specific enough for your product or service, yet also broad enough to cover future products, services or expansion?
  5. If possible, avoid regional-specific names. Especially when you want to serve the world. "Nashville Apparel" could possibly limit your growth, outside of Nashville.

Best of luck! Have some fun with this.