Browsing around /r/Entrepreneur and other entrepreneur communities I notice one roadblock many new entrepreneurs run into is picking a great business name.
Name selection is often an overwhelming, frustrating, and exhausting experience.
I can remember how stressful the naming process was for me when launching my first couple of projects. It would start off fun and loose for the first couple of names, but I would quickly become trapped in a mind numbing list of gibberish.
Several hours into it, I could feel my standards dropping and eventually lost all confidence in my ability to even judge the names I was coming up with. That was usually the point where I would put up a desperation post on some forums like this (or the ones you see above) –
And while I think it’s a good idea to ask somebody but yourself, this isn’t the best way to come up with a good name. Not by a long shot.
What I always ended up with were names that I settled for. Terrible names that doomed my projects before they had even started.
And that’s not what I want for you…
So here is the method I have developed over the years to avoid the naming labyrinth and to pick the perfect name for your business.
Specifically, I am going to share with you 8 simple steps to help you pick the perfect business name.
These are tools, little known tactics and methodologies I’ve personally used for my own businesses. You’ll find it all here.
Let’s get started.
8 Steps to Name Your Business
- Brainstorm Ideas
- Make a List of the Best Names
- Check the Availability of Every Name in the List
- Ask for Feedback
- Register the Domain & Business Name
- Create Your Main Branding Assets
- Launch Your Own Properties
- Build a Brand Around Your Business
Step #1: Brainstorm Ideas
Your business name plays a crucial part in your overall brand identity and brainstorming is the first step in how to name a business.
Your name is the first thing your clients will see, and it will be one of the things people remember when referencing your brand or product.
The first thing you want to do when you are naming a business is brainstorm ideas of all the relevant keywords you can think of, so you can then start mixing and matching.
See if there is a combination of words or a string of words you could put together that makes sense for your company.
Once you are confident you’d know a good name if you saw one, you need to come up with a few keywords to get you started.
You probably already have a few in mind. If you don’t, you should probably go back to the last step.
If you’re still lost, look for successful competitors and rapid-growth companies and use them for inspiration.
Huge time saver – Bust-A-Name
Open up Bust-A-Name (the best tool there is for brainstorming domain names) and enter in your initial keyword ideas. I’ll be using StartupBros as the example in this post, since we did use this method to decide on that name (StartupBros was originally going to be IncomeLabs).
So your initial list should look something like this –
As you can see, Bust-A-Name checks all possible combinations of the keywords you put in and gives you the available domains containing those.
Though we just started the naming process, there are already a few good names on the board that I would save. SmartIncomeLabs, StartupIncome, and IncomeBros are all decent names already on the board (and of course StartupBros would have been on this board if it were available).
Add onto initial keyword list
Once you have some initial keywords on the board, you’ll want to expand on those ideas to come up with synonyms/similar keywords.
Bust-A-Name has a feature that will help you with this a little bit –
Mmm – Synonyms…
I also use LeanDomainSearch at this point to expand on ideas and get some ideas going –
Those are really the only two sites I use to come up with keywords. I sometimes also use Thesaurus, but even that is rare.
At this point, you should have a pretty decent amount of name combinations to look through.
Online generators are great when you are having trouble thinking of an idea and when you are struggling with how to pick a business name that is not taken.
(Honorable Mention) Tool to Help You Name Your Business
Namelix is one of those sites that can help you brainstorm naming your company by using artificial intelligence.
You can even filter it by certain criteria to help you get the results you are looking for.
Once you enter your main keywords on the home page, you have the option to select the name length. You have the choice of…
- A short name (3-6 letters)
- A medium name (6-12 letters)
- A long name (12+ letters)
You then have the option to select the style you want for your name.
You have the choice of brandable names, multiple words, misspellings, compound words, rhyming words, etc.
Namelix will then generate a list of possible business names for you to add to your brainstorm ideas.
NameMesh is another site you can use to generate a website domain name.
We discuss this and 14 other lean startup tools in our blog, 15 Lean Startup Tools to Launch and Run Your Business.
You’ll also want to take a look at our guide:
Once you have a few ideas, move along to step number 2 to learn how to pick a business name.
Step #2: Make a List of the Best Name Ideas
Whether you came up with your ideas the old-fashioned way, with pencil and paper, or used an online generator, now is the time to start narrowing down your list to find a good business name.
You don’t want to rush this step, spend a few days pondering what name you want to represent your business.
Ask yourself the following questions to decide what makes a good business name to narrow your options.
Does the name make sense for the business?
Most likely you want to choose a name that when people see it for the first time, they can get an idea of what type of business you are and what services you offer.
You don’t want to have a name that’s unrelated to what you are offering as this could send mixed signals.
Is the name easy to remember?
Successful names for businesses are usually shorter since it’s easier to remember.
You will want to also consider avoiding jargon that’s not widely known, hyphens, and multiple syllables that might confuse people when searching.
Some companies choose rhyming words to help make the name stick in people’s minds.
Is the name easy for people to spell?
Some companies purposely select names that are misspelled or consumers can’t spell easily.
This is a risky approach that some use to try and stand out, but ultimately you must consider if users are going to struggle to find your business when doing a search online.
You’ll want to choose a name that is spelled like it sounds, or else you might find yourself wasting time reciting how to correctly spell it.
Will the name be too limiting?
You might want to avoid getting too specific with your business name if you plan on expanding your products and services over time.
You don’t want to limit yourself and your company if you grow to new locations or offer different services than what you originally started with.
Is your name only meaningful to you?
When starting a business from scratch, it’s easy to fall into the trap of choosing a name that means something personal to you.
However, since you want to attract new consumers, your business name should be something that appeals to the general public.
If there is a hidden meaning behind your name that only a handful of people will understand, then it won’t evoke what your brand is.
Business names with a personal meaning or back story can be successful if you put in the time and effort to explain that to your customer base.
Once done correctly, your customers should feel that connection to the brand as well.
Does it look appealing?
Consider how your business name will look visually. If it is going to include multiple words, consider how it will look on paper, online and on branded material.
Think about future advertisements and how the name will complement your logo.
If you have the creative ability, make mockups of business cards, flyers, social media banners, and other items to see how the name actually looks on physical or digital products.
If you can, at least get a business name and logo file.
Then there are template sites you can use to visualize the products mentioned above.
Creativebooster is one of several sites that can help you with this.
They allow you to easily upload an image into a mockup to visualize how your products or documents would look.
They offer business cards, mailing stationery, bag packaging, coffee mugs and many more mockups.
Let’s move on to the next step.
Step #3 – Find Out Which One is Perfect
Now my favorite part – we test to see which name is the best!
This is where everybody screws up…
It seems everybody thinks they should get their naming advice from friends, family, and Facebook friends – I suspect out of desperation.
That is a stupid thing to do.
Ask the audience
I would much rather A/B test my possible business names to find out exactly how much more or less receptive my target audience would be with each name.
I use the same method highlighted in 3 Steps to Validate Your Business Idea For FREE…almost –
- Head over to Unbounce(I now use and would recommend LeadPages for this) and sign up for a Free Trial account.
- Make an identical landing page for each possible name (you can just duplicate your first page in unbounce)
- Make a quick logo for each possible name with LogoPony and put one on each landing page (don’t forget to publish your page after you’re done!) There are free logo makers you can use as well.
- Run traffic to your landing page.
Your landing pages should look something like this –
Make sure the traffic you are running to these pages is targeted. I’d recommend Facebook Ads for this – check out this article for a great breakdown on how to target the correct people.
Once you’re ready to create your final logo and want to use professional designers, we have an incredibly detailed post on using a contest to create the best logos. You can check out the post here.
After a few days and $50-$100, you’ll end up with something like this in Unbounce –
As you can see, the StartupBros name performed 13% better than our original name idea, IncomeLabs.
Thinking about what that 13% means completely baffles me, and I would love to hear your opinions on it.
Does that mean that everything we do at StartupBros will grow 13% faster and perform 13% better than if we were doing it under IncomeLabs?
I suppose there is no way to know for sure…
But what I do know for sure, is that our target market responded better to the StartupBros name more than any other name we could come up with – and that’s why we chose it.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂
Step #4: Ask for Feedback
This is where everybody screws up…
Asking for feedback can be one of the hardest parts when deciding how to pick a name for your business.
You are most likely starting your own company because you want more freedom and control of how your company is run.
You will have this but asking for feedback is important so your brand is relatable to your target audiences.
Asking for feedback is also hard because you are opening yourself up to criticism.
The best way to start is by asking people you highly respect and trust, like family members or close friends.
However, you don’t only want to ask them because they can be biased by having a close personal relationship with you.
A great place to ask for feedback is Reddit.
You can visit a subreddit like r/Business_Ideas and ask a question about your business idea and name:
Author’s Tip: Don’t give away too much information, but be honest about what you are going to start and what you need from the community.
After you gather their feedback, branch out and ask people inside your target audience but outside of your close circle.
An even better way to gather how to choose a business name is through one-on-one conversations with potential customers, focus groups or online surveys.
We recommend using our 3 steps to validate your business ideas to help test different ways you can market your business and learn how small changes make a big impact.
A great tool to do that is whereby (formerly appear.in):
Author’s Note: Make sure you feel extremely confident with the steps above on how to find a business name before moving on to the next steps.
Let’s move on to step #5.
Step #5: Register the Domain & Business Name
Now that you have finished naming your business, the next step is to create a strong online presence (as mentioned in step #3).
The first step in doing this would be to register your domain name, which is typically the name of your business that you have been brainstorming.
The cost of registering a domain name can range from $10-$15 a year.
This will depend on multiple factors like the extension that’s at the end, if it’s a popular domain, and how long you choose to register it for.
There are many sites out there where you can legally register a domain, we recommend using GoDaddy.
Not only can you register your domain name, but GoDaddy also provides website hosting.
That is a service you will have to eventually pay for when you get closer to creating your website.
Once you have purchased your domain name, it’s time to register your business name.
To register, you will need to register your business structure as either an LLC (limited liability company), LP (limited partnership), a corporation, or a nonprofit.
Each type of registrations are similar but do have slight differences that also differ by state.
After doing this, you might also want to trademark your company.
Registering a Trademark
If you want to learn more about registering a trademark for a business, make sure to take a look at the following guide:
In summary, you will need to follow these 5 steps for registering a trademark for your business:
- Search the Trademark Electronic Search System database for existing trademarks
- Apply at the U.S Patent and Trademark Office online
- Provide additional business information like the category of services and date of first use for the desired company name
- Pay the fee online that ranges from $225 to $400
- The waiting period should be no more than 90 days
The last thing to make sure you do is to claim your business name on all social media accounts.
Even if it will take you time to use all the different social channels, you want to make sure no one else registers it before you can.
Step #6: Create Your Main Branding Assets
The next area to focus on registering your business through the proper channels. Now is the time to get creative and design the visual aspect of your business.
This is your time to define your brand’s voice/personality.
Let’s first start with creating a logo.
Most companies have a logo that is unique to them and immediately represents the business.
Logos can be used for websites, marketing purposes, and business cards; you don’t have to have design skills to get this created.
Reference logo guide on the best websites to use to generate your new logo.
Keep your startup costs low and stretch your dollar by using AI online programs. The following are some of the sites we highly recommend:
- Design Iconic
- Squarespace Logo Maker
- Shopify Logo Maker
Pick your color palette and stick with it to show consistency for your brand. RGB and CMYK often vary so it’s important to know the exact hex code for web use, as well as the codes for printed material.
A cool tool to get inspiration for the colors you are going to choose is uiGradients…
… Where you can choose between different colors to use in your branding elements.
Another one is Colormind—an AI powered color palette generator.
Make sure to give those two a try.
If you want to know more about the effect of colors in marketing feel free to read this great post by CoSchedule:
It’s essential to pick a font that will be consistently used throughout your logos and advertising material to seem more professional.
You can use different fonts for different purposes however, it is important to keep consistency and to dictate which typeface goes where and how to use it.
Canva offers a brand kit that helps you put all these different elements together and offers a platform to store everything.
They also offer 8,000 free templates plus the ability to invite team members, animate your graphics and design folders to keep everything organized.
Each of these assets should complement your ideas for how to name your business.
Let’s move on to step #7.
Step #7: Launch Your Own Properties
Once you have your business name established, the domain purchased and branding assets created, it is time to launch your own properties.
The first and biggest business property you should focus on is your website.
This will be the main “face” of your business so it needs to be well designed, intriguing and easy to use. If you have no background in web design or coding, no problem!
There are plenty of website creation sites that work off of templates to make it easy for business owners.
The most popular website building site is probably WordPress. They make it very easy for users to create websites or blogs that you can launch in minutes.
You have the option to walk through their step by step guide, start with a blank website or import content from a previous website.
They also offer themes, plugins and Google apps that can be incorporated into your site.
Social Media Channels
Social media profiles are also very important for a new business.
Some business owners think they only need to utilize one or possibly two social media platforms but the reality is that potential customers could be on any of them.
Don’t limit yourself to only Facebook or Twitter, find ways to use Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and other channels to showcase your business.
As new platforms enter the market and old ones constantly evolve, it can be hard to know where to begin.
Luckily Hubspot has created a fantastic guide on how to keep up with social media news & trends.
A blog is a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your field and build brand authority.
Blogs can be built as a page on your main website or they can be their own separate site.
They can be intimidating because it can be hard to think of consistent content to post but as you are starting up your business, you are probably learning several things you didn’t know before.
But they’re a great place to share new knowledge and tips with others.
We have created our own blog post to help you start a successful blog: step by step.
Once your blog is ready we also have a guide on how to pick, plan and write your first blog post!
There are many other business properties that you can launch but this is a good place to start.
Once you have these created and are comfortable managing the content on each, think about launching other properties such as an app, a podcast, a YouTube channel, etc.
Hopefully, by now you have seen the importance of a strong name.
It will be on every branding asset and business property you create so make sure you put in a lot of time and consideration when choosing a business name.
Step #8: Build a Brand Around Your Business
Building a brand around your business is the final step when thinking about how to choose a company name.
Everything we have talked about so far makes up your brand.
It can be a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that helps consumers identify your products from those of other sellers.
A great example of a company that invests in building a brand is the conversational marketing tool Drift:
Try to learn from those guys!
Take your time with each of the steps above to build a strong brand that customers recognize and are drawn to.
Your brand not only identifies your business but also helps consumers associate thoughts and feelings with your business.
Think about how you feel when you see the Nike swoosh or the golden arches of McDonald’s.
These thoughts and feelings come from both companies spending years on marketing to establish that feeling with their brand.
Of course, brand reputation will change over time but it’s important to think about in the beginning to ensure you create that great first impression in your customer’s minds.
When thinking about branding your business, think about what qualities do you want customers to associate with my company?
This will help you build a strong brand.
Let’s close this with some final thoughts.
Wrapping This Up
So there you have it.
You now know how to pick a business name.
Of course, choosing a business name is only a small part of the process.
You see, there are many things involved when it comes to starting your own business online.
However, if you have a process like the one I just shared with you, you’ll be fine.
Now I’d like to hear from you.
Which of these steps have you tried already? And which one do you find to be more difficult?
Let me know by leaving a comment below!
Additional Resources you might be interested in: