Tools & Worksheets

The Complete Step by Step Guide to Naming Your Business

Small business owner's guide to naming your business

Your company name is the first, and most often, impression your company will make with potential clients. Every day. All day. On the phone, in person, and over email. It’s the most important first step to the success of your business. It’s also the one aspect of your branding that you can’t easily change without spending a lot of time and money to re-educate your audience and re-create your visual identity.

But don’t worry…

From brainstorming to vetting to securing the perfect name legally, we’ll walk you through each step of the name development process in our Complete Guide to Naming Your Business. And if you’re still stumped after our crash course in company naming, you can book our name development services and turn your project over to a group of creative experts. Win/win.

Let’s start with the five steps to creating the perfect company name:

1.) Create a Word Bank
2.) Company Naming Ideas
3.) Internet Inspiration
4.) Selecting your Favorites
5.) Official Vetting

STEP 1 | Create your Word Bank

Do a brain dump of all the words that could be associated with your company. Write it all down and silence that judge-y devil on your shoulder. Try these prompts to get the creativity flowing:

Brainstorm words for… What your product or service is
Brainstorm words for… Raw materials used for your product or service
Brainstorm words for… What problem your product or service solves
Brainstorm words for… How your prod./serv. makes your customer feel
Brainstorm words for… Other nouns associated with those feelings
Brainstorm words for… Industry terms related to what you do
Brainstorm words for… Historical references to your product or service

You can use our handy worksheet for a launchpad HERE.

STEP 2 | Company Naming Ideas

Not all of these techniques or tools will work for every company, but this is a great starting point to dive into your word bank and start generating names:

Try …. alliteration  (Ex: Atomic Apples)
Try …. a common idiom  (Ex: Holy Cow)
Try …. rhyming (Ex: Lunch Bunch)
Try …. creating new words by adding a suffix  (Ex: Tatly)
Try …. adding a group: company, collective, society, bunch, crew
Try …. adding a place: lab, corner, district, point, spot
Try …. adding two words together to form one word
Try …. using symbols or numbers: +, &, 101, 54
Try …. personification: Mr., Mrs., Miss ________.
Try …. adding a color name (Ex: Crimson Studio)
Try …. adding “My” if it’s a personal product/service
Try …. adding your product/service to end of name:  (Ex: Joco Cups)
Try …. playful made-up words, sounds  (Ex: Yahoo) 
Try …. metaphoric words that may represent your product/service

STEP 3 | Internet Inspiration

When you’ve exhausted all of your ideas, and you’re stumped – try one of these prompts to spark your next brainstorm:

A. Google Image Search
Those words that you listed above? Google them. What images comes up? (Ex: Forest – redwoods, timbers, woodland, pine thickets, wild woods, etc.)

B. Pinterest Quotes
Look for what other words are floating around that inspire people.

C. Word Generators
Word generators expose you to words you might not be familiar, including made up words to spark your creativity.
Random Word Generator
Words To Use.

D. Company Name Generators
Name generators combine words for unique combinations, another great creativity booster.
Panabee Name Generator
Name Robot

STEP 4 | Selecting Your Favorites

After you’ve created pages and pages of ideas, lay them out in front of you and start picking your gut-instinct favorites. This process should be fast. What immediately jumps out at you? Remember, your potential clients will be making the same split second decision.

Once you’ve picked your top choices, how do you test them? What makes a good name?

You can download our free evaluation sheet HERE, which includes an easy tally system to help you identify your strongest names.

PRO TIP: Use a service like Survey Monkey to collect easy, digital votes from your peers, colleagues, or partners, and your participants won’t be influenced by other people’s votes. Keep in mind that the most important thing is that is appeals to your target market. A company name is no use to you if your mom, your brother, and your friends like it, but it doesn’t resonate with your audience.

STEP 5 | Official Vetting

Expect that many names on your list will probably not make it through the vetting mine field. However, it’s very important that your chosen name is officially cleared for:

1.) URL Availability
2.) Search Conflicts
3.) Social Media
4.) Trademark

Vet for URL Availability
A .com is the most common and widely used extension in the United States. If you’re in another country, the country code (For instance, .au for Australia) might be the most popular choice. Other widely accepted url extensions are:

• .co (short for company)
• .net (short for network)
• .org (short for organization)

We recommend for an easy search for your url availability. From there, you’ll also be able to see if alternative extensions are available, and you might choose to buy those to redirect to your website as well.

WARNING: Url Brokers
Sometimes a url is being “parked” by a company looking to sell the domain at a premium price. These prices are usually around $1K to $2K. If you’re confident that it’s the right name for your company and you’re comfortable with the investment, you can spend the extra cash to get the name you want from a broker.

You can check to see if a name is being brokered by typing the domain in your address bar. If the domain is for sale, there will be a splash page with contact information and a price.

Vet for Search Conflicts
Clear your browsing cache and do a Google search. You might turn up a company using a name just close enough to cause market confusion. Or perhaps your search will reveal that your favorite new company name has a completely different connotation that you couldn’t have imagined. If you find something hinky, red flag it and dig deeper before throwing caution to the wind. A misstep here can cause you trouble down the road.

Check out how shallow research negatively effected this small business HERE. When you search for Perennial Public Relations, formerly Strange Fruit PR, the first page of search results is overwhelmed with negative feedback following the backlash from their choice to us a loaded term that coincidentally appeared in a controversial song. Don’t make the same mistake. Conduct thorough research and don’t be afraid to conduct market research too. Especially if your potential name has even a remotely negative connotation.

Vet for Social Media Usernames
You want to ensure that you can obtain a social media account for all of the major platforms with your chosen name. Keep in mind that different social media platforms have their own character limits on user names.

The key is to keep your social channels as consistent as possible. NO extra hyphens, underscores, or special characters. The easiest way for people to find you is to have the social channels spell out your name exactly as it appears in your branding and domain. For example, our social media handle is @fuzebranding across the board.

But what do you do if your company name is too long or unavailable? Here are some commonly accepted alternatives:

• Name Abbreviation (ex: @stylegf)
• Name + “Official” (ex: @abeautifulmessofficial)
• “Team” + Name (ex: @teamfuze)
• “Shop” + Name (ex: @shopbando)
• “My” + Name (ex: @mynewroots)

Keep in mind that you’ll have to make a concerted extra effort to educate your audience on alternative social media usernames.

PRO TIP: If you own a URL, many times you can file an impersonation complaint to claim your name if it’s already in use by an individual, especially if the account is inactive. Click the links to find out the steps to filing an impersonation claim with Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Vet for Trademark Availability
The information provided is for reference only and should not be construed as legal advice. We’re totally not lawyers, and we don’t even play them on TV. The information below was sourced from the official website of the United States Patents and Trademark Office.

– How to get it –
Trademarks are not bought, they are reviewed and granted through an application process with your country’s government. The process can take several months or even years. You can use a tool like the USPTO TESS database to check for potential availability of a trademark, but again, it’s not official until it’s been granted by your government. We highly recommend you consult with a trademark lawyer if you’re serious about protecting your name.

– What you’re trademarking –
You can trademark the name, the logo, or both together.

– Why you need it –
Trademarking your name ensures that you are not infringing on someone else’s trademark and opening yourself up to legal action. Conversely, an approved trademark protects you and your company going forward by ensuring that no one else can infringe on YOUR trademark. Your company name is one of the most important assets you’ll hold for your company, so it’s important to secure it properly.

Company name development takes time and the perfect blend of strategy and creativity. Let our team of branding experts brainstorm and vet company names for you. Check out our past company name development clients HERE, or contact us to book your service today.

Got an awesome tool that you use to brainstorm company names or a resource that we haven’t mentioned?Tell us in the comment section below!

We’re a small team that delivers BIG results for your business.