Choosing a name for your business is a momentous and exciting step. According to MarketingMo.com, "A great name can create buzz, position you as a true leader and innovator and reinforce your value proposition in a word or two." It can convey a message about your culture, position in the industry and what separates you from the other guys who are vying for business, too.
However, choosing the right name is no easy task. It can be a little stressful, especially if it seems like you have to choose between a name that helps you come across as memorable, or one that helps you establish credibility among your competition. You may also feel the pressure to pick a name that encompasses not only all that you do, but one that also speaks to your values as well. That can be a pretty tall order for just a few words. If you're already feeling stressed about playing the name game, here's some food for thought to help you navigate through your naming process.
Everyone's Two Cents Might Not Add Up to a Great Name
Repeat after us: "When choosing a name, no one knows my business better than I do." It might seem like a great idea to have a variety opinions in the decision making process, but tread with caution. It's possible that if you go with the majority vote, you could end up with a pretty bland name. Instead, try out a couple of your best options with a very, select group of trusted individuals who you believe have the business's best interests at heart.
Don't Be Afraid to Stand Out
Philip Davis, the founder of Tungsten Branding in Nevada told Inc.com, "[In] the majority of [naming] cases, clients want to stand out and that's a better approach when looking at your long-term goals. Even the companies that say 'I just want to get my foot in the door' will usually begin wishing that they stood out more once they pass that first hurdle." Small businesses have the luxury of being bolder, but keep your selections to names that are easy to say and spell. "Any time you have to explain your name or apologize for it, you're just devaluing your brand," notes Alexandra Watkins, the chief innovation officer of Eat My Words, a San Francisco-based naming company.
Protect Your Name
Did you know that registering your name doesn't provide trademark protection? According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it simply lets your state government know that you're doing business under a name other than your personal name or the legal name of an existing corporation or partnership. It's also called your "Doing Business As" or DBA name. You can register your DBA with either your county clerk's office or state government depending on where your business is located.
On the flip side, a trademark actually protects all the words, names, symbols and logos associated with your business. With more than 24 million businesses in the United States, trademarking your name will help protect your naming investment. The cost of filing a trademark is typically less than $300 and can be done on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's website at https://www.uspto.gov/. It's a small price to pay to protect something you've dedicated lots of time, money and attention to.
Visualize Your Options
It might not be enough to just say the name you're considering out loud; you may need to see how it looks in your branding, too. Incorporate your possible names into any logo ideas you may be considering, see how it looks on your website's template and consider what social media account names and themes would go along with your idea. This is a great time to also consider how fonts, color choices, shapes, shadows and much more will affect your name choice.
See If It's Already Being Used
Before you fall in love with your final name, it's wise to make sure it isn't already trademarked by someone else. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's trademark search tool can help you find out if the name you like is already taken or if someone's using something similar. Another area you might want to investigate before you make a final decision is the potential web addresses you'd want to use. The U.S. Small Business Administration suggests doing "a simple web search to see if anyone is already using that name" and checking whether the domain name or web address you want to use is available. If it's available, "be sure to claim it right away" they advise.