A Guide to Choosing a Business Name

Image shows a girl brainstorming a new business name.
Table of Contents


    You might have a lot of ideas for your business name. You might already have a special one in your collection of names. But the decision to choose a business name is more than thinking of any name. A good business name should reflect the goals and identity of your enterprise. It should help you market and reach out to more people and not put you in a legal tussle.

    Since your business name will stay with you for a long period, you need to carefully make a good choice before you register your business and create a website, logo, and other marketing materials. This article will serve as a guide that helps you understand how to choose a business name.

    Key Takeaways

    • Your business name should reflect the goals and identity of your enterprise. It should help you market and reach out to more customers and not put you in a legal situation.
    • Most states forbid businesses from using the same name or a descriptive similar name to another business entity in their state.
    • Asking for feedback before choosing a business idea is very necessary.
    • Once you have chosen a business name, the next step to take is to trademark it. You can do this by registering on the USPTO website or your country’s trademark website. 
    • After registering your business name, you need to start your branding and marketing strategy.

    Important Tips to Consider When Choosing a Business Name

    The following are some important tips that can help you make the right name selection:

    • Follow the naming guidelines of your state
    • Go for uniqueness and originality
    • Choose a web-friendly name
    • Choose a memorable yet, not too unique
    • Choose a name that represents your brand
    • Use your business origin story
    • Conduct keyword research
    • Use acronyms
    • Consider a service-based name
    • Use your name
    • Use foreign names
    • Use symbols
    • Ask an expert for help

    Follow the Naming Guidelines of Your State

    If you are planning to incorporate your business, your state laws will forbid you from using the same name as another business entity in your state. In some locations, you cannot use a name that is similar to another business name too. Incorporation also allows you to add identifiers like ‘inc’, ‘LLC’, or ‘corp’ after your name.

    Check online for the naming guidelines of your state before making a choice. Most states offer a catalog that shows all the registered business names in the location. Check if the one you wish to choose is already available. If you are not ready to choose an entity, most states will allow you to reserve a name in the meantime.

    Go for Uniqueness and Originality

    Choose a name that is unique and doesn’t look like a direct competitor’s own. Also, avoid choosing a name that will confuse your business and another business in your area. For instance, if there is a restaurant named ‘Fairy Queen Foods’ in your area, do not name yours ‘Fairy Queen Cusine’. The other business might accuse you of copying their name and you might end up with a lawsuit. Even if there are no legal issues, you need your business to stand out and have its own identity and not be confused with a competitor’s own.

    You can avoid this by searching online for similarly named companies. The US Patent and Trademark Office database has names that are trademarked by their owners. When searching through the catalog, check if there are alternate abbreviations and spellings with the name you want to choose.

    Choose a Web-Friendly Name

    You will surely have a website and social media page for your company. If you decide to create a website, you will need a domain name. Of course, the domain will contain your business name. Once you have chosen a domain name, check if it is available. Also, do not go for a long domain name. A long domain name might make it hard for prospects to find you online or send mail to you.

    Choose a Memorable yet, not too Unique Name

    You must get your business name trademarked for added intellectual property protection, but the name you go for can determine this. For instance, a generic name like Minnesota Pizza might be great for attracting prospects, but you won’t be able to trademark it (because it is a geographical name). However, extremely unique names like Xironx are easy to trademark but might not attract prospects. So when choosing a name, balance uniqueness and creativity.

    Choose a Name that Represents Your Brand

    What makes your brand different from competitors? Is it great customer service? Or is it in a convenient location? What knowledge and expertise do you possess as its owner? What is your unique selling point? Who is your target market?

    Since you want your name to reflect your brand, you need to ponder the above questions and craft a name based on that. For instance, if you own a car wash, you can decide to go for a name like ‘fast cleansing car wash’ to describe what your value proposition is and what your business involves.

    Use Your Business Origin Story

    This is quite helpful when choosing a business name. Every business has its own story and why it chose its name. While Google was originally called BackRub, its new name was derived from a misspelling of googol (the original name they wanted to go for) which is the mathematical term of 1 followed by 100 zeros. 

    Your business origin story can give you an idea of which name to go for. Outline the reason you started your business, its values, challenges, and goals. With your origin story, you can perfectly curate the name to go for.

    Conduct Keyword Research

    You might wonder why you should conduct keyword research for your business name. If you want your marketing efforts to run smoothly, then using a popular keyword in your business name will work. There are several free keyword tools you can use for this. These tools will give you an idea of the popular keyword terms your prospects are searching for.  

    Use Acronyms

    Some of the memorable brand names are acronyms of different words put together. Examples of these include AT&T (American Telephone and Telegraph Company), UPS (United Parcel Service), and BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). So if you want your business name to stand out too, consider acronyms instead of a name. It makes the name more unique and easy to remember.

    Consider a Service-Based Name

    Choosing a name based on your niche can give you a business edge. For instance, The good marketer is a well-known UK marketing agency. A service-based name is simple. It also improves your discoverability on search engines. There are different online tools you can use to generate your service-based name if you can’t think of any.

    Use Your Name

    Another easy way to choose a unique name is to use your name or family name. Family brand names like Warner Brothers, Cadbury, and Kellogg’s are famous today. Your personal or family name will be more memorable and last long in the minds of many.

    Use Foreign Names

    If you own a fashion or clothing line, a foreign name can sound fancy to prospects. Think of Gucci, Versace, and Victoria’s Secret. These names stand out because they look and sound intriguing to people.

    Ask an Expert to Help You

    If you don’t have time to find a befitting name for your business, why not hire an expert to help you out? There are different freelance marketplaces where you find business name experts to assist you with this. If you decide to choose this option, you need to be sure that the expert is highly reputable and a good fit for your business. 

    Things to Make Sure of When Choosing a Business Name

    After following the tips above and selecting a few business names, the next thing to do is ensure that the name is the right one for your enterprise. Here are some important things that can help you with this:

    • Ask for feedback
    • Try it on different mediums

    Ask for Feedback

    It is nice to ask others what they feel about your business name ideas. Share it with them and get their feedback. Choose people who understand your brand and people who are likely to be your prospects for this. If the majority agree on a particular name, then you can go for it.

    Try it on Different Mediums

    A good way to make sure the name you choose is the right fit is to test it out on different mediums to see how it will sound and look in different situations. For instance, create a logo based on the name or add it to your email signature. Also, check if it can easily fit into your domain name. Say the name loudly to determine how it sounds.

    Things to Avoid When You Choose a Business Name

    Apart from things to make sure of, there are certain things you need to avoid when choosing the right name for your brand:

    • Infringement of copyright
    • Offensive names
    • Boring names
    • Extremely geographical names
    • Long names

    Infringement of copyright

    When picking a company name, make sure that it is not trademarked by another business. The worst thing that can happen to you is to choose a name and build an identity around it, only to discover that it is similar to another company’s name in your location. To avoid this, it is wise to check the Trademark Electronic search system (TESS) for trademarked names. Remember that trademarks are highly important and can land you into legal trouble so ensure that you run this search before choosing a name.

    Offensive names

    You shouldn’t choose a word or anything offensive to a group of people. Any slur, reference, or swear words targeted to individuals or groups are always risky to use and might result in a lawsuit.

    Boring names

    No one likes a boring name; your prospect can quickly forget it. So, get creative and choose a name that will not only grab their attention but last long in their minds.

    Extremely Local names

    If you have a local business, it is normal to choose a name that reflects your location. While it is ok to go for extremely local names, it might affect you when you decide to expand beyond your locality. Choosing an extremely local name might bring about unnecessary restrictions when you decide to expand. So it is best to avoid adding local places or references in the name you go for.

    Long names

    If your business name is long, it might be difficult for people to remember. Also, long names are unlikely to fit a domain link, so it’s best to go for short names or acronyms.

    What to do After You Choose a Business Name

    After picking a business name, what are the next steps to take? The following are some important things to do afterward:

    • Trademark it
    • Create a logo
    • Branding and marketing

    Trademark it

    Once you have a name, trademark it. You can do this by registering it on the USPTO website. This is a simple process and you can register within 90 minutes. You will be charged for this so make sure you check if there are other fees they will ask for. By registering your name, you prevent others from using it.

    Create a Logo

    The next thing to do is to create a logo. This logo will represent your business so make sure it is unique. Choose colors that reflect the values and personality of your brand. You can either use free logo maker tools for this or hire a professional to help you with this.

    You can also create a logo with a symbol from your name. For instance, Apple’s ¼ eaten logo or the big yellow capital-lettered M in Mcdonald’s are unique logos that can never be forgotten by customers.

    Branding and Marketing

    Once you have a name and logo, it’s time to take your branding and marketing seriously. Understand how having a branding strategy can help your business grow and immediately start implementing it. After branding, it’s time to start marketing your business. Create a budget for marketing and start promoting your products or services to prospective customers. 


    Your business name must be unique and creative. Keep in mind that your name will affect your branding and marketing efforts. If you want people to get attracted to your business, choose a name that reflects your brand and what it involves.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How can I conduct a proper trademark search?

    Your business name is worthless if someone has already trademarked it. Start using free government resources like USPTO.gov or Trademarkia.com to search for whether the name has been taken. Afterward, hire a trademark lawyer to conduct extra screening. If the name is not taken, register it at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    What is the legal name of a business?

    The legal name of your business is the official name of the owner or entity of the business. If you are the sole owner of the business, the legal name is your full name. If the business is a partnership, then the legal name is the last name of the owners. For LLCs and corporations, the legal name is the name registered at the state’s office. The legal name of your business will be needed on all governmental applications and forms.