9 Steps to Craft a Perfect Business Name

Customer perception is a major part of any success, and getting your business name right is the first step to building a solid brand to attract customers and increase revenues.

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By Ademola Alex Adekunbi

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Most new entrepreneurs don't think twice about their business name, but it literally has the power to make or break your business. This is more true today than ever before now that there are countless alternatives to every product or service imaginable. Sure, every business may have its own world-changing differentiator but from the outside, they all look the same. The main differentiator ends up becoming your brand name. It's more important now than ever to stand out from the crowd.

In a world full of distractions, customers no longer have the attention span to thoroughly research what they buy so they primarily rely on their feelings and emotions. This is why large businesses like Apple and Amazon spend billions on just their brand alone. They understand customer perception is everything in business today.

Related: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming Your Business

So let's explore how you can craft the perfect business name for your next big idea.

1. Start brainstorming

Write down a list of words that are related to the product or service you want to offer to the world. Think about words that are associated with what your business does, with what your mission is, with what your values are, and with what problem you're looking to solve with your new business. You can even add your first or last name to the list if it's short and catchy. Then mix and match those words until you find combinations of names you like.

2. Research competitors

Look up competitor business names for inspiration. You don't need to reinvent the wheel when it has already been reinvented countless times. Your competitors also had to go through this same naming process when they first started their companies so why not take advantage of their work? After all, your goal as a new business owner is to out-compete them.

3. Examine the meaning

Some words can have different meanings or negative connotations in different languages. So it's always a good idea to do a quick Google search for alternate meanings. If you discover that a name on your list may form a negative impression of your company, scratch it off. You don't want that name to hinder your future potential.

Related: 4 Clues to Help You Choose an Effective Business Name

4. Zoom out a little

It can be tempting to go with a super relevant name that describes exactly what your company plans to offer when you first open your doors. But don't forget to think about how you want your business to grow and expand in the future. Remember, Amazon was just selling books at first but then expanded into selling everything else. Imagine if they had named their business "SuperBooks" initially. Think about the big picture before you get too excited about a name on your list because it'll pay off in the long run.

5. Keep it simple

Many companies use alternate spellings nowadays. Feel free to do so if it feels right for your brand but try to keep the name short and simple. If your name can't be easily spelled or pronounced, customers will struggle to find you. Practice saying the name out loud. Remember, your potential customers will talk about your company to others during casual conversations just like how you talk about companies like Walmart and Netflix with your family and friends. So avoid hard-to-pronounce names like those with more than four syllables or those that have silent letters in them.

6. Ask for feedback

Don't keep the name you like a secret. Share your ideas with other people and see what they think. Entrepreneurs are naturally biased toward their own ideas. It's always good to hear other people's thoughts especially if those people are your future customers. And if you can do this in person with them, that's even better. You may find that a name you like is perceived negatively by others or has a hidden meaning that you didn't notice before.

7. Take a breather

New things are exciting and it's tempting to rush into making a decision, especially when you have so many things to do for your new business before you can get up and running. But don't act on that impulse just yet. Give yourself a few days to mull over the name you like. Once you pick a name for your business, it's hard to change it. Not impossible, but much more difficult than starting with the right one from the beginning.

8. Grab the domain name

In today's high-tech world where every business needs a website and email address, owning a domain name that matches your company name is crucial. So before you commit to a name, make sure to grab the corresponding domain name especially one with a .com extension as they're the gold standard and will automatically build trust with your customers. Use a domain registrar like GoDaddy to register a domain that matches your company name. If you can't find a domain that's available or simply need inspiration for more names, check out a business name marketplace like Alter.

Related: Everything I Know About Naming I Learned From 'The Simpsons'

9. Search for trademarks

Before you set your heart on a name, check to see if you can legally use it. Make sure there isn't another business in your industry that's already operating under that name. Simply head over to USPTO or your country's equivalent and search for the exact name you like. If you can't find any existing trademarks for that name then you're good to go! Otherwise, you will have to consult a trademark attorney to see if your name infringes on another trademark.

These nine steps will help you craft the perfect business name for your next company. The name you pick will dramatically impact your company's future marketing efforts so choose carefully. No matter what name you end up choosing, remember to enjoy the journey!

Ademola Alex Adekunbi

Founder of Tech Law Info

Kunbi is a lawyer based in Lagos and is focused on the tech industry, advising startups on regulatory compliance, market-entry and investment (PE and VC). He is also the founder of Tech Law Info, a website to provide founders with essential legal information and resources.

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