Naming Your Business: What You Need To Know

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Naming Your Business: What You Need To Know

Shortly after you know which products or services your business is going to offer, you're scrambling to name the venture. Something cute, but not too cute... something meaningful, but not too obscure...


Naming your business used to be a legal and practical step in the start-up process. Now more than ever, it's strategic. Using keywords and snagging a great domain name means priority listings in search engines. It takes work to get it right. So what's a business owner to do when they get burnt out on business naming?

STOP. Stop what you're doing and take the time to make sure you don't make any of these excuses during the process.

Top Business/Domain Name Excuses

You say: "People understand there's a shortage of unique names out there, so they're used to funny-sounding alternative names."

Just because is taken does not mean it's okay to default to and take the easy way out. Don't settle for second, third, or last place. Take the time to create a unique brand that stands out.

Shark Bait
You say: "Too bad the business name and domain I liked was picked up by a premiuim domain reseller. I wouldn't be caught dead paying over basic registration fees for my domain."

Don't let those premium rates and "domain sharks" scare you off from your shot at acquiring the perfect domain. If it's available and you can manage the investment, pull the trigger!

Giving Up
You say: "Well, the .com version already exists. We can always just go with the .net or .biz, right?"

Adding prefixes ( and settling for the .net or .biz version is not a good idea. Think of all the people looking for [YourBusinessName].com - as a new business you may not have the search engine results yet, and it takes people visiting your site to get you there. Anything less than .com will be difficult for customers to find.

You say: "Our team thinks it's a cool name - who cares what others think? They don't have to understand it."

Naming your business cannot be a selfish endeavor. You HAVE to focus on customers, prospects, and the public. What's memorable to you may not be memorable to others.

Rushing It
You say: "We've got too much going on. At the end of this 2-hour session, we're choosing the best on the list. Done."

You're building a brand. There's a reason this is the third mention of "taking your time" in this post. Patience is a virtue, and the perfect name will come to you soon enough.

You say: "The best way to get a unique name is by making one up! Fictional names rock!"

Be careful here. Yes, you can have fun and come up with a very catchy name this way. You can also go off the deep end and end up with something obscure and difficult to pronounce.

Okay, I have a list of names. Now what?

Once you've got a short list of names and keywords that appeal to you, be sure to take these FOUR steps:

1. Visit a site like or to use a fun generator that will not only come up with naming alternatives but will check to see if the domains are available.

2. Read through the new list of alternatives and word combos, and pay attention to the ones that conjure images of your business. Can you see that name on a card? A sign?

3. Say the names outloud. Yes! Alone in your room, in a crowded office... say those names outloud! Do they roll off the tongue? Would a person have a difficult time understanding it over the radio or over the phone?

4. Write them down and ask other people to read/say the names. A name that's difficult to pronouce can be difficult to transcribe or spell. It all boils down to how easily it can be remembered and passed on!

Most of all, have fun and put your heart in it.

I live and breathe small business marketing. Ask me about social media or digital reputation management over lunch, and we'll be there until dinner. Aside from consulting and educating business owners, my passions are martial arts, cooking, office supply collecting, and volunteering. Outside of my own community, I serve as Marketing Director for the 03XX Foundation - an organization serving Marine Corps Infantrymen and Corpsmen.
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