A lot of strategy and planning goes into building a business from the ground up. Before your startup is ready to launch, you need to think carefully about your brand and the image you'll present to consumers.

So, how can you stand out from your competitors?

Create a unique business name. With a catchy, creative, and descriptive name, your business and brand will be memorable. Consumers will recognize it online, in advertisements, or in stores which helps separate your product from the competition.

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But, what makes a good business name?

What's In a Company Name?

Naming your business may seem daunting if you don't know where to start. Here are some of the attributes that make up great company names: 

1. It describes what you do. 

Your business name is opportune real estate for a mini elevator pitch before you even speak to a prospect. Consider stating what you do and how in a few words.

Example: Measured Results Marketing

If you don't measure your marketing and sales efforts, do they even matter? System integrator and technology partner Measured Results Marketing leads with a descriptive company name. They help sales and marketing teams establish effective metrics and reporting systems while evolving operational infrastructure to drive revenue and help you meet goals. Their name reflects what they do and gives prospects confidence there will be no gray or unmeasured area in their client work.

2. It reflects your mission or values. 

Your brand is so much more than a logo. Your company name can broadcast not only what you do but why you do it or why it matters.

Example: IMPACT

What's one thing every sales and marketing professional wants? To have an impact on their business and their customers. IMPACT is an award-winning agency helping marketers and salespeople achieve their goals "and look like a rockstar in the process." Their business name reflects that mission and clearly states they exist to make you look good at work.

3. It takes into account what your prospects are searching for. 

Your business name can make your business relevant for non-branded search queries. This could give you an edge when attempting to rank on search engines for your highest value keyword.

Example: Flawless Inbound

If you're Googling agencies to help you implement an inbound sales and marketing strategy, you'll likely search with keywords like, "top inbound agencies" or "great inbound." When a company called "Flawless Inbound" populates in your search page, it's likely going to stand out. Working keywords your user might be searching for into your title is a smart way to be surfaced and stand out. 

4. It is simple. 

You want prospects to remember and recognize your brand. To help in this effort, your business name should be simple and easy to spell, pronounce, and recall. This will ensure that no one gets frustrated typing your name or saying it aloud to devices like Alexa. 

Example: Drip

You may have heard email automation being referred to as "drip sequences" or "drip campaigns" due to the automated emails being dripped out one at a time. The company Drip took this word associated with their product — one that's only one syllable and only four letters — and made it their identity.

5. It is fun or clever. 

One way to make sure your business gets remembered is by being witty. Jokes, puns, and plays on words  are all ways to make your prospects chuckle at your business name and get it stuck in their heads.

Example: Spinfluence

Influence always requires a bit of spin, right? This clever play on words sets this inbound marketing agency apart. It's catchy, witty, and memorable — all important elements of a strong business name.

6. It demonstrates the value you provide customers. 

One marketing tip is to position your business as a problem solver rather than a product seller. You can start that positioning with your business name.

Example: Search & Be Found

Every company in the digital age wants one thing: to be found when their customer or prospect searches for them.They've stated the benefit of using their agency in the title of their business. Work with Search & Be Found and ... be found by more customers.

7. It is unique. 

The last think you want to do is decide on a business name and run into trouble securing its domain and other branding assets because they're already taken. Or, worse, run into legal trouble for trademark infringement. 

Plus, you don't want to cause confusion when prospects land on your website but are looking for the other company (or vice versa). 

Example: Zoom LiveTrak vs. Zoom.us

I was once in a podcasting group where someone was asking questions about "recording on Zoom." I though the individual was referring to Zoom.us, the video conferencing platform, but he was actually talking about Zoom LiveTrak, the audio mixer. 

This is a simple mix-up that didn't result in any harm to either company. A more severe issue, however, is possible with more egregious naming errors than the one in this scenario.

This can be avoided by ensuring the business name is not trademarked or taken.

1. Understand your business.

Before deciding on a name, you should have a clear idea of your business' mission, goals, target audience, and value proposition. If you've already created your business plan, this will be a great resource for you to review. You should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What does your business stand for?
  • What product/service are you selling?
  • Who is your target audience?

2. Think of descriptive keywords.

Once you know the core focus of your business, take some time to brainstorm keywords that describe your business. With a few descriptors of your business and brand, you'll be able to identify the ones that reflect the image you'd like to create.

For example, if you're starting a photography business, words like "camera", "snap", "shoot", "capture", "lens", etc. are all good starting points for your business name.

3. Consider SEO in the naming process. 

Part of a good name is the ability to get found by potential prospects. For this reason, consider how well your name can position you on search engines. Consider the following things as you make this evaluation: 

Search Volume

One strategy is to name a business based on a highly searched keyword to make the business relevant for that keyword. For example, 24 Hour Fitness may appear for someone looking for their brand or for someone looking for any gym that's open around the clock. 

Authority

However, you don't want to choose a name in which the SERPs (search engine results pages) are too heavy with competition. For example, let's say you chose "Five Star Restaurant" as a name for your new establishment but notice the SERP for this keyword is dominated by review sites like Yelp and local newspaper columns. In this case, you may not get enough authority to compete, resulting in you not being found even when prospects are actively searching for you. 

Intent

Google serves up content to users based on what it thinks they're intending to find. When thinking through your business name, make sure it matches search intent. For example, naming a tax business "Maximize Your Refund, Inc." may not be a good idea because searchers looking for "maximize my refund" aren't searching for a business but rather strategies.

You can evaluate your names based on these three considerations using a combination of manual Google searching and SEO tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush.

4. Choose a name style.

How do you plan to create a unique name? You can use the keywords in your business name Here are a few other naming options to consider:

  • Include the names of the company founders.
  • Use a single word.
  • Change, add, or remove letters from keywords.
  • Combine two or more words.
  • Use a metaphor.
  • Create an acronym.

5. Tell a story.

What does your business name tell consumer? After you've settled on an idea, think about the thoughts and emotions you want the name to evoke. If it doesn't align with the mission and value proposition of your business, it might be a good idea to go back to the drawing board and find a name that's better suited for your company and products.

6. Ensure the business name is not trademarked. 

If another organization has trademarked a name, you risk legal action against your business if you violate that trademark. If you're in the U.S., you can search the United States Patent and Trademark Office database for your potential business name to ensure that there isn't an existing trademark for it.

7. Ensure the business name is not otherwise taken. 

If there's no trademark, a business name is fair game. However, that doesn't mean there's no other businesses operating under the name you want. The best business names are unique so that you can avoid confusion. You may want to check your state's Secretary of State entity filings and DBAs for other businesses operating under the name. Each state will have a different process for this.

It's also good practice to run a Google search for your desired name to see what's out there. This can also alert you to existing organizations that have similar names.

8. Verify that the .com domain name and social media handles are available. 

You can verify domain name availability by doing a search on a domain registrar such as GoDaddy or Namecheap.

If a .com domain name is not available, or if it is too expensive, weigh your options between choosing a different name or going with a less desirable TLD. While other TLDs are fine, .com remains the most widely used and is the easiest to remember. 

In addition, it would be a pain to settle on a name only to find out that your social media handles are taken. Having variation between social media handles could cause confusion for prospects, so it's best to avoid this where possible. 

One easy way to verify the availability of social media handles is by using a tool such as Namechk, which checks multiple platforms with a single search. 

9. Register your business name.

Once you've researched and decided on your name, you're ready to register your business name. Depending on the type of company you're registering, the registration process will vary. You may also need a DBA if you're a sole proprietor. This resource from the U.S. Small Business Association will help you determine which registration process is right for you and your business.

Creative Business Name Generators

If you're having trouble thinking outside the box, these business name generators are a good starting point to help you get the naming process started.

  • Namelix: Enter your keywords, and Namelix will generate related business names and logos.
  • Brandroot: Search by keyword and business category. It will provide a name, logo, and tell you if the corresponding domain name is available.
  • Novanym: After searching for your initial keywords, narrow the results down by name style and sector.
  • Shopify Business Name Generator: Once you enter the key term you'd like to include in your name, the Shopify Business Name Generator will create a list of business name ideas that have an available website domain.
  • BrandBucket: With BrandBucket, you can search for business names or browse by industry.

Ready to see these business name generators in action?

If you're in need of business name inspiration, look no further. Here are some name ideas I created using business name generators -- and I've included the product or industry the name describes.

Catchy Business Name Ideas

These are business name ideas that are sure to grab the attention of potential customers and clients.

1. SwipeWire

Product/Industry: eCommerce, Technology, App Developer

2. SecureSmarter

Product/Industry: Security, Web Security Services

3. Dwellsmith

Product/Industry: Real Estate

4. SalePush

Product/Industry: Sales Training, Sales Consulting

5. Formonix

Product/Industry: Manufacturing

6. Brandiing

Product/Industry: Design Agency, Marketing Agency

7. Cloudrevel

Product/Industry: Cloud Storage, IT Company

8. Seekingon

Product/Industry: Business Directory, Search Engine, Geolocation App

9. Medicing

Product/Industry: Healthcare, Telemedicine

10. Crowdstage

Product/Industry: Social Media, Crowdfunding

11. Hiphonic

Product/Industry: Music App, Streaming Service, Dance Company

Creative Business Name Ideas

It can be challenging to think of a creative and unique business name. Here are a few examples to inspire you.

1. Rentoor

Product/Industry: Real Estate

2. Kiddily

Product/Industry: Children's Clothing, Toys

3. Jumpsync

Product/Industry: Mobile Phone, Communication Services

4. Conceptial

Product/Industry: Sales and Marketing Services, Consulting

5. VisionSwipe

Product/Industry: Glasses/Eyewear

6. Tourish

Product/Industry: Travel Agency, Tour Guides

7. Drivemo

Product/Industry: Automotive, Auto Rental

8. Knowza

Product/Industry: Online Learning Website, Training Services, Learning Center

9. Composey

Product/Industry: Music, Writing Tool

10. Excursy

Product/Industry: Travel, Trip Planning Website

11. InvestSpend

Product/Industry: Finance, Investments, Budgeting

12. Deductly

Product/Industry: Tax, Accounting

13. SiteDept

Product/Industry: Web Design, Hosting

14. Metricsilo

Product/Industry: Data & Analytics, Marketing Agency, SAAS

15. Legalbright

Product/Industry: Legal

16. Shipplier

Product/Industry: Shipping, Logistics

17. SecuriToday

Product/Industry: Security, Information Security

18. GameEight

Product/Industry: eGaming, Game Development

19. Nutration

Product/Industry: Health and Wellness, Nutrition

Cool Company Names

Need some more inspiration? Here are some real businesses with unique names to spark your creativity.

1. Brandless

This health and environmentally conscious, eCommerce company created a funny and unique name by branding their business as brandless. The intention of the name was to communicate that "better doesn't have to cost more" -- you don't need to pay a hefty price for a brand name item in order to get high-quality products.

2. Ollie

Using a human name personalizes this pet food business and makes the brand approachable. They offer fresh meals for dogs that can be delivered straight to your door.

3. Groupon

Groupon is a company with a unique and descriptive name. They combined two words, "group" and "coupon", to create their business name. It perfectly describes their website -- a collection of coupons for consumers to search for and use.

Funny Business Names

Creating the perfect brand name is serious business. But, if you've hit a creative roadblock, try to come up with some funny business names, just for fun. Here are a few examples I generated using the Hipster Business Name Generator:

  • Table & Toad
  • Spool & Sherry
  • Ghost & Leather
  • Copper & Tooth
  • Captain & Bells

A unique business name will help you stand out from competitors and build a strong brand. Once that's down, you'll want identify your target market, define your positioning, and create a business plan.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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Originally published Oct 29, 2020 1:30:00 PM, updated October 29 2020

Topics:

Startups