Picking the Right Name for Your Company

'Name Tag.  Day 316.' photo (c) 2011, PV KS - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Picking a company name is both a science and an art form for several reasons. If you are going to register your new business entity in Kentucky, for instance, the name must conform with the Kentucky guidelines and not be in conflict with a previously registered name in Kentucky. The same is true for most states, but that only addresses registration at that level.

Before you even contact a lawyer to help set up your company legal structure, I strongly suggest using a Google or other extensive online search, for the word, word combination, and meta tag names you are interested in using for your company name.  I also strongly recommend doing at least your own trademark search to make sure another company has not registered a similar name in the same category of business. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has quite a bit of good information on trademarks, which are important to protect your name and to help ensure the name you choose does not infringe on one already registered by someone else. To take a look at some of the information there, start here: http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/basics/index.jsp 

Since you will probably spend quite a bit of time, money, and effort marketing your company with the company name you pick, 'My Name Is' photo (c) 2005, Emily Walker - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/you may want to have a professional trademark search conducted for you. You may also want to engage one of the many consultants that creates names for companies and products. Many of those companies (ex. Brand Institute http://www.brandinstitute.com/services_namedevelopment.asp)  may also be able to help you with creating a unique logo and slogan, which can help establish your “brand.” 

There are many free, online resources. A good place to start may be a free online naming “engine,” such as namestationor the one posted by WriteExpress®: http://www.naming.net/. This tool should let you plug in a variety of factors and generate names for you. It also has naming advice and some examples of “coined” names, names with a “twist,” “deviant” spelling, etc. If you want something that rhymes, there’s even a Web site for that: http://www.rhymer.com/namilng.html 

'Belchford Village Sign, Lincolnshire' photo (c) 2007, Brian - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/In my opinion, and in general, here are some of the basic considerations, aside from how your company name might look on a business card.

 1.      Is the name available:

a.     in the state where you will organize your company

b.    for registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office

c.     for a domain name with minimal deviation from the exact company name

d.    on Twitter and other social media channels you will likely use to market your company?

2.      It should be easy to pronounce

3.      It should be as short as possible.

4.      It should have no negative connotations in other languages.

5.      It should come, alphabetically, as early in any listing where you would want it to be found.

6.      It should distinguish you from everyone else, and especially competitors in your market space.

7.      It should tell everyone who you are.

8.      It should tell everyone what you do.

9.      It should tell everyone how you do what you do and why that is better than the competition.

10.    It should be easy for customers and others to remember and spell correctly when typed into a search engine.

11.     It should be interesting.

12.    It should not be misleading in any way.

13.    It should not be subject to going out of style or become easily dated.

14.    It should be likely to turn up in search results of those who are searching for your product, service, or company.

Here are a couple of short articles I wrote:

Business Name Selection Considerations

Trademark Registration

Here’s a short video: How Can I Come Up With a Name for My Company? (although I don’t totally agree with everything said)

Here are a “gazillion” additional resources:

How to Name a Business Nice article by the SBA covering many aspects of this issue.

Register Your Fictitious or “Doing Business As” (DBA) Name Very nice SBA articles with links to state DBA Filing Requirements

Business Name & Tag Line Generator; “Use the 19 steps on this page to create a company name or tag line that sparkles with distinction” by Marcia Yudkin

Analyzing Your Business Name Search Results by Rich Stim

What to Do If the Domain Name You Want Is Taken

Is Your Domain Name Hurting Your Sales? Tips on Selecting a Domain Name by Stephanie Frank

Pick a Winning Name for Your Business; Choose a business name that will identify your company’s products and services. by Rich Stim

8 Steps to Create Your Business Identity; Create a Business Identity and Hang Out Your Shingle by Randy Duermyer

8 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming Your Business by Phil Davis

How to Get Your New Business Name Right; Part 1: The Six Essential Elements of a Business Name by Susan A. Friedmann

Put Your Business Name to the Test; Learn how to develop a “winning” business name by Laura Lake

How To Create a Great Business Name by Scott Allen

5 Rules for Choosing a Business Name; How to Create a Winning Business Name by Susan Ward,

Business Name Ideas; Tips for Brainstorming a Retail Business Name by Shari Waters,

Choosing a Domain Name for Your Website; Factors for Selecting a Domain Name for Your Home Business Website by Cliff Posey

The 10 Commandments of a Great Business Name by Darrell Zahorsky

Do’s and Don’ts: Business Names

Naming a Business

Pros and Cons: Business Name Choices

Should You Name Your Startup After a Meme? By Brenna Ehrich

How to Name Your Business; What’s in a business name? Plenty. Follow this guide to choose a memorable name that will best represent your brand.

The Name Game: Naming Your Business by Terri Lonier

10 Most Unfortunate Car Names

How To Name Your Company So You Don’t Get Sued by Mo Chanmugham

9 mutable suggestions of startup naming

8 More mutable suggestions of startup naming

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Join the Applied Entrepreneurship group on LinkedIn. Membership is free and I try to post about ten articles a day there. We have some great discussions going and if you are an entrepreneur, we hope you will join us.

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Posted in Applied Entrepreneurship, business, copyright, Intellectual property, Starting a business
2 comments on “Picking the Right Name for Your Company
  1. bizlawblog says:

    Here is another nice article, by Marty Zwilling, with rules for picking a name: 10 Rules for Picking a Company Name That Sticks http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marty-zwilling/small-business-names_b_1144658.html

  2. Stuart Adams says:

    If you prefer infographics to reading articles, this is a very nice one I found and posted to one of the boards on my Pinterest: “What’s in a Name: The Art of Naming a Business” http://www.infographicsarchive.com/business-economics/the-art-of-naming-a-business/

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