How to Name Your New Business

The name of your business shouldn’t really matter that much, right? It’s about your company’s substance. Your products. Your service. After all, your Xerox machine would still make copies just as well if it were called a “PaperDuplicatromax” or some such nonsense. Apple could have been called Kumquat and the iPod still would have been cool. We don’t judge books by their covers, and roses by other names, etc, etc.

Yet… we all know that definitely isn’t true. Giving your company a great name can make you stand out from the crowd, stick in people’s minds, inform what you’re all about, or even give people all the warm fuzzies. On the flip-side, a bad name can be one of the absolute fastest ways to torpedo your business before you even get going. In fact, I thought about calling this article, “How To Not Screw Up Naming Your Business.” (The notion made me sure my mother, the English teacher would track me down from ten states away and ground me.)

So, here are some strategies to avoid a nomenclatural disaster:

Trust Your Gut

Chances are, you know what a bad name sounds like. Which is not to say you should self-edit too much when you’re brainstorming your initial list. Brainstorming is for letting anything fly. But, if your gut says it’s bad, chances are other people’s guts will agree.

Avoid The Committee

At a certain point, every name is going to sound like garbage and you’ll need some outside perspective. But don’t go asking all your cousins, neighbors or Facebook friends. Keep the circle small, and don’t give outsiders too much weight. If you do, you’re likely to pick something bland and middle-of-the-road. A mediocre name might not sink you, but it won’t do you any favors either.

Don’t Ape General Phorcys

Or put more simply, don’t copy others, don’t be generic, don’t be obscure. Just because a name worked well for some company similar to yours, doesn’t mean a similar name will work for you. At best, you’ll seem unoriginal or generic, which is it’s own no-no. Your name has to be somewhat remarkable or clever for people to actually remember it. But not TOO clever. An obscure name will just confuse people. (For those of you not up on your minor Greek mythology, Phorcys is an obscure god who looks like a merman with crab claws for legs.)

What’s The Meaning Of This?

A random, nonsensical word is going to work for some companies. But at least at first, you should strive for a name that means something to you. Try for something evocative that brings about an emotional response for you or your customers. Or maybe something that hints at your businesses core message without being super obvious.

I’ll Have A Dot-Com With That

You’re going to save yourself a lot of headaches if you pick your domain name at the same time as your business name. Opinions differ on whether or not a dot-com is necessary, and some companies even get away with having a URL that differs from their company name, but the easier you can make it for your customers to find you online, the better.


We recommend Googling your names. This does a few things. It will show you if there are any competitors in your industry with a similar or the same name, it will show you what you are competing with for organic SEO and ranking and lastly it will show you what results come up in Google when your name is typed in. All of this plays a part in choosing a name.


Make a list of names. Check available domains for each. Google your names. Your list will be narrowed quick. Once narrowed, review your options and choose 2-3 names. You will then have to run those by your attorney or whomever you may be using to form your legal entity and verify your name is also available in the form of the legal business name you may seek.

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