How to Name Your Business

What's In a Name? -- Everything!

Senior male vintner hanging open sign at winery tasting room
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One of the more challenging areas in the set-up of a new enterprise is how to name the business. Your business name will represent your brand and drive your marketing efforts. Once you select and begin operating under a name, it can be quite difficult to change, so you want to make sure and get it right the first time. Following these tips will help in the creative process and give you the criteria necessary to whittle down your list of could-be names.

What Makes A Good Business Name?

  • Easy to spell: A cooking business named Kookeeng Kreasions is just begging for trouble.
  • Positive connotation: Would you eat at a place called Grammy’s Soups? Of course! Because it makes you reflect on fond memories (hopefully) of good food and family.
  • Describes what you do: Include your actual product in the title and juice it up a bit with a creative adjective. Some examples of this could be Glossy Crafts or Simple Snapshots.
  • Fairly short: What do you think of the name, Keeping It Super Short Lawncare? Yikes, it is far from super short. A simpler approach to this same name could be K.I.S.S Lawncare.
  • Peeks interest: One of my new favorite business names is a bakery that just opened up called Glass of Milk Cake Company®. Every time I drive past their signs announcing the grand opening, my interest is peeked, I know exactly what they do, and I want to investigate further (i.e., stuff my face full of baked goods). The name is long, but for all intents and purposes, their name does a great job in marketing itself.

Check Website Domain Availability

I don’t care what some experts say about finding the perfect name first and then settling upon an available web address. In the competitive world of marketing, it is equally important to have a good and accessible website name. I'll even take this a step further and say it is necessary for a business to have a .com domain extension. However, this is easier said than done. There are hundreds of millions of registered domains, and .com selections are becoming more and more limited. So before you get too stuck on the ideal business name, do a domain search to see if it is even available.

To check domain name availability, take the top name choices you have selected using the criteria above and conduct a free search with providers like:

  • Or do a Google search for "domain registration"

Is Your Business Name Already Taken?

Unless your business is a sole proprietorship using your given name, you will need to register your business name. But before you can do that, you must make sure it isn’t already taken.

Search Registered Trademark Database

To search trademarked names, use the United States Patent and Trademark Office database. Review their “trademark basics” section and then go to the section of their website called “Search Marks.”

Search Unregistered Trademark Businesses

Interestingly, trademark law states: “a business can establish a trademark simply by operating under a given name.” So you will need to try and hunt down unregistered businesses. It actually shouldn’t be that difficult. Here are two suggested search methods:

  1. Search unregistered businesses in your neighborhood by using You select the operating category under (i.e., bakery) and your city or state, and it will bring up results for all businesses in that category.
  2. Use search engines like Google, and type in your proposed business name and your city/state or desired areas of operation and see if there are names that pop up similar to your top name picks.

It is an important step because if you do operate under a business name that is already trademarked, you may have to pay out fines and change your business name. It is important to do your research and get it right the first time.