How to Create and Test Your Business Name

Learn how to develop a winning business name

T-shirted man writing on Post-it notes stuck on glass
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Choosing a name is among the most important things you'll do for your company. The name should tell potential customers who you are and what your company does and convey a strong image of your business.

In addition, you want to make sure your company's name informs marketing efforts, in other words, the name should help you market your company to potential customers. And bear in mind that conventional wisdom suggests a business name have 11 or fewer letters and four syllables maximum. Don't get too wordy.

More importantly, don't drop the ball on this aspect of your business. It shouldn't overwhelm you, but you should really spend some time deciding on the right name for your company. And be sure to test it before you commit: Ask yourself the right questions about what your business name conveys, and determine that no one else already has used the name.

Process for Choosing Your Company Name

Here's a checklist of things to consider while you make this decision:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What problems does your company help them solve?
  • Who are your direct competitors?
  • What makes you different from the competition?

If a common thread emerges among the answers to these questions, you're probably getting close to the business name. Think of ways to describe your company with these answers in mind.

For instance, if you're starting a home security company and your business will provide inspections and evaluations of a family's house to assess their security—and potentially sell them an alarm system—you're probably going to include the word "security" in your company's name. You probably also want to consider words that convey peace of mind and trustworthiness, so your customers know you're reliable.

Testing the Company Name

Now take these answers and formulate a list of five to seven potential company names. Consider the characteristics that make up your target audience and ask yourself the following questions about each of your potential names:

  • Can the name be pronounced easily?
  • Does it read quickly and clearly?
  • Can you say it, and others understand it, without having to spell it?
  • Is it spelled as it sounds?
  • Is it short?
  • Does it contain negative internal words?
  • Does it spark interest? Is there a story behind it?
  • Does it represent who you are? Is it authentic?
  • Does it express or imply a desirable message?
  • Can your employees say it proudly?

How did your proposed business name do? Is it a keeper, or do you need to go back to the drawing board? In the long run, you'll be better off being honest with yourself now.

Having a great name is a powerful force when it comes to your marketing campaigns. Your name differentiates you from competitors, makes an emotional connection with your audience, and helps to build a strong brand that your customers recognize and trust. 

Use Business Name Generators for a Little Help

Creating a business name can be challenging, but if you find yourself stuck or if a competitor already has the name you want, consider using a business name generator. Here are a few name generators to help spur ideas:

  • Business Name Generator by Shopify: Shopify has put together a name generator that can help bust through those creative blocks. It creates your business name by combining keywords with other support words to help generate a list. The helpful feature with this name generator is that it shows you if the domain name is available, a must when it comes to naming your business. 
  • Anadea: Anadea helps in finding the best-fitting business name by using keywords that you enter into the generator. Super-easy to use. 
  • Wordoid: Different from the other name generators, Wordoid is clever in coming up with a list of made-up words to help you in branding. It's called the intelligent naming tool. Want a creative name that's all your own? Start building your random list today and see if any of them spark your interest for your own company. 

Warnings and Precautions

As mentioned above, there's a chance you'll pick what you think is the perfect name only to find a competitor, or even a totally unrelated business, is already using it. If you go ahead with another company's name, even if the company is in another state and unrelated to your own, you may be liable for trademark infringement.

Before you settle on a name, do all your due diligence. You may want to hire a professional; a trademark attorney can help you conduct the proper searches to determine that your business name is unique and get it registered for trademark and tax purposes. Googling a potential name isn't enough.