Choosing a name for your business can be both fun and challenging. The name has to be memorable yet not too esoteric. Accessible but not too generic. It also has to be searchable.

Figuring out what to call your new business is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, so it isn’t something you should rush. You will hopefully be using this name for many years to come. It should be well considered and flexible enough to change with you as your business grows.

Survey the Landscape

You’ve no doubt been doing some research, in preparation for starting your new business, and have likely checked out the competition. Pay attention to particular trends within your industry in regard to business names. In some industries, such as legal services, it’s common to use last names as part of the name of the company or firm. Businesses in other industries may focus on popular keywords.

Once you figure out what the trends are in your industry, you have two options: find a name within those trends, or make a conscious decision to go in a different direction.

Build Your List

Now that you are familiar with the common business-naming practices of your industry, start brainstorming your list of potential names. What words are important to you? When you tell the story of how you got the idea to create your business, are there any recurring words or images you use? What do you want your business name to convey?

Write down some of these words and then start free associating from there. If you are using the names of the company founders, experiment with how they might be combined.

You can also do a few graphic treatments of your favorite names to see how they might look on business cards, signs, and other visual media.

Google It

Now that you’ve got some potential names, it’s time to test them out online.

Your online searchability is very important to your business and social media plays a major role.

It all begins with your website.

Is the domain you want available? These days the use of new top-level domains provides new flexibility. You aren’t stuck with .com, you can be .buzz, .cash, .luxury and hundreds of other options. There are even specialty options for businesses such as .actor and .accountant.  

Time will tell if this new crop of top-level domains has as much search resonance as traditional web addresses. If you use one of these domains and there is an existing business with a similar domain using the .com domain, you will have to work very hard to appear above that business in search results.

WiseStamp signature example

Check Your Handles

Now that you’ve researched domain names it’s time to make sure that there are social media handles available. Sites such as namechecker let you see what handles are available. If your name is relatively common or long, you can play around with spelling by removing vowels or adding app or biz or something similar but you still want your handle to have as much of a connection with the name of your business as possible.

Call in the Focus Group

You think you’ve got it, the name your future will build upon. But there’s one more step. You need to make sure that other people think it’s as wonderful as you do. Ask friends, family, even random strangers their opinion. Tell them the name of the business and have them guess what type of business it is. Ask them what associations the name has for them.

You might hear some surprising answers. If the feedback is negative or not in line with what your business represents, you might want to reconsider.

Building a business that you’re passionate about begins with choosing a name that makes you feel proud and inspired; a name that you want to shout from the rooftops. It’s worth taking the time to get it right.

Have you ever chosen a name for a business? Leave a comment and share your experience.