How to Come Up with a Catchy Business Name

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Are you asking what should I name my business and how to create a catchy business name?

It can seem overwhelming naming your new business. No worries. As an all-in-one platform for starting a business, we are here to help you come up with a great business name.

Come along with us as we show you how to name your business step by step, using real-life examples with the exact business naming process we use to help our startup clients come up with their best new company name. 

Getting your perfect business name requires research, brainstorming, knowing the different types of business names and how to register them plus protect your new company name with trademarks. 

Once you have created your unique new business name, one that is both catchy and memorable, you can use its brand building power to grow your business. A creative business name is a significant competitive advantage for success.

Entrepreneurs, let’s get busy naming your business!

Step 1: Research Names

Different Types of Business Names

Know that businesses don’t just have one name. In fact, all businesses need five (5) different types of business names including; company name, brand name, legal entity name, website domain name, and social media profile names.

Each business name type has a different format and usage – plus a different way to obtain and protect. The table below contains the information you need to know (including costs) about each business name type and how to get your perfect business name reserved.

5 Types of Business Names Every Company Needs

Type
Example
UsesHow to Get & Protect – plus the Cost
Company Name – Primary name

Apple
Signs, business cards and logoCome up with a catchy name using the steps below, research name availability and register in your state and trademark if you are a national brand
This business name is sometimes referred to as your trade name or trading name, DBA (also see the section below about entity names) “doing business as” and “fictitious” business name.
Brand Name –
iPhone
Product LineBrainstorm product name ideas and research name availability for trademark purposes if you are distributing nationally. State-specific business registrations
Entity Name – DBA, LLC, INC

Apple, Inc
Legal documents,
tax returns
1 – Decide business entity DBA (simplest), LLC (protects your personal assets) and INC (for larger firms with investor funding)
2 – Get legal help to set up properly.
Domain
Name –

Apple.com, iTunes.com
Website URL & E-commerce storeSearch for internet name availability and get a FREE domain here.
Social Media – Usernames
@Apple (twitter), facebook.com/apple
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram,Check name availability on a site that specializes in this or you can go to each social media site and search and register your user name profiles.

Business Names in Your Industry & Competitors

Study your industry and competitors to discover the most effective brand names for your market.

Are the most successful firms using invented words such as Kiddeo (children’s clothing) or are they using descriptive words such as Measured Results Marketing (a consulting firm)?

Knowing this information will help you to come up with a business name which will work well in your industry, stand out among your competitors, and not be confused with other existing firms.

Your Company Point of Difference

Remember your name will be your customer’s very first contact with your company. As such you want to make it strongly communicate the benefits of your products and services.

To do so, begin by analyzing your offerings to deter your company’s point of difference and value proposition. These fancy words simply mean: what makes your business stand out from the competition and why should people buy your products and services.

  • What does your business stand for? Top-quality, low cost, innovative solutions?
  • What products or services are you selling and their ultimate benefit? (you would be surprised how often beginner entrepreneurs forget to consider this!)
    • SERVICE: Salon services = BENEFIT: looking beautiful, feeling confident, attracting a mate
  • Who is your target audience? Consider their demographics (age, location, economic status) as you brainstorm names for your business. You want your potential customers to understand and relate to your business name positively.

Step 2: Brainstorm Name Ideas

24 Pro Tips to Come Up with a Business Name

  1. Business Name Lists – Read lists of business ideas such as these that we publish periodically to get inspiration for your best business name.

    PS: You can also check for name availability free with one click on our name idea lists.
  2. Combine Two Words – Blend real names of two or more owners into an interesting compound business name.

✔ Rebranding? Check out our guide on how to change your business name and rebranding checklist here

BUSINESS NAME GENERATORS

Online company name generators can be a viable option for coming up with unique and creative business names. 

Business Name Generators: Pros and Cons

Name generators are online tools that combine words, sometimes using AI artificial intelligence to suggest business names. There are both pros and cons to this business naming method. 

Name Generator Pros
  • Free – All of these company name generators are free
  • Quick – Takes seconds to get name ideas generated
  • Easy to Use – Simply enter a few keywords related to your business and click the button
  • Lots of Naming Ideas – Typically many different name ideas will be offered
Name Generator Cons
  • Generic – Most of the name ideas will be generic and boring – thus forgettable and not trademarkable. 
  • Taken – Because others are using the same name generators it is likely that the name ideas are already taken and you will not be able to register them nor reserve the domain name. 
  • Limiting – Using the generators limits your creativity resulting in name ideas that are unimaginative. 
  • Costly – These online tools are free because the companies are trying to sell you the matching domain name at expensive and inflated prices.  

How to Use Name Generator Tools for Your Perfect Startup Name

The key to getting good results is to select a powerful name generator with filter options, such as these name generators by industry on our list here . Also be sure to use our pro tips below which will yield the best results:

  1. Use Powerful Name Generator – Use a professional-grade name generator such as these; Name Station and Namelix, not a lame one that only gives you a few ideas with choppy English words. 
     
  2. Pick Name Generator for Your Industry – Work with company name generators built for your industry-specific needs.

Name Generator Pros
  • Free – All of these company name generators are free
  • Quick – Takes seconds to get name ideas generated
  • Easy to Use – Simply enter a few keywords related to your business and click the button
  • Lots of Naming Ideas – Typically many different name ideas will be offered
Name Generator Cons
  • Generic – Most of the name ideas will be generic and boring – thus forgettable and not trademarkable. 
  • Taken – Because others are using the same name generators it is likely that the name ideas are already taken and you will not be able to register them nor reserve the domain name. 
  • Limiting – Using the generators limits your creativity resulting in name ideas that are unimaginative. 
  • Costly – These online tools are free because the companies are trying to sell you the matching domain name at expensive and inflated prices.  

Naming Services – Explained and Reviewed

Another good way to come up with catchy business names is to hire a naming service. These agencies and individuals will create lists of brand and company names based on your specifications. 

You have many options, from creative marketing people on Fiverr (we used some of these gigs for a recent lean startup project with good success) to full-service brand advertising agencies. 

STEP 3 – CHECKLIST TO SELECT YOUR BUSINESS NAME

How to Choose Your Perfect Business Name

Having followed the steps above, you now have a terrific (and long) list of possible company names.

Next is the critical phase of testing your name ideas and selecting the final name. 

To begin we will create a shortlist of good possibilities with our name scoring system.

To help you we created the checklist below complete with a number score system to objectively consider your name ideas. 

How to Use Name Score Card

Take each one of your possible names and grade them using the 10 questions below. Add up the total scores using these grades.

Grades: 0= poor, 1=fair, 2=good, 3=excellent

The highest possible score is 30 points. Add name ideas with scores of 20+ to create your shortlist. Keep reading to the next naming step in which we will find out if your desired business name is available and not taken.

Checklist to Choose Your Best Business Name – Score Card

  1. ☑️ Communicates Your Product and Services
  2. ☑️ Easy to pronounce 
  3. ☑️ Easy to spell
  4. ☑️ Easy to remember
  5. ☑️ Distinctive – Positively stands outs and is original
  6. ☑️ Unique – Unlike competitors names to avoid customer confusion
  7. ☑️ Expandable – Flexible to for new products and locations
  8. ☑️ Reasonable Length – Not too long
  9. ☑️ Funny or Rude?
  10. ☑️ No negative meanings – especially in your targeted foreign markets

In scoring your names on your list, be sure to consider these points:

1. Appearance: Simply how the name looks as a visual signifier, in a logo, an ad, on a billboard, etc. The name will always be seen in context, but it will be seen, so looks are important. Look for visual cues like two of the same letters (e.g., the ZZ in Fizzle), symmetry of the word(s), number of letters, etc.

2. Sound: The name WILL be heard, in radio or television commercials, being presented at a trade show, or simply being discussed in a cocktail party conversation. Sound is twofold: not only how a name sounds, but how easily it is spoken by those who matter most — the potential customer. Word of mouth is a big part of the marketing of a company, product or service with a great name, but if people aren’t comfortable saying the name, the word won’t get out. One quick question to ask yourself about sound is: how easily could you communicate this name to someone over a static-y phone call?

3. Distinctiveness: How differentiated a given name is from its competition. Being distinctive is only one element that goes into making a name memorable, but it is a required element, since if a name is not distinct from a sea of similar names it will not be memorable. It’s important, when judging distinctiveness, to consider the name in the context of both the product it will serve, and the competition it will spar with for the consumer’s attention.

4. Positioning: How relevant the name is to the positioning of the product or company being named, the service offered, or to the industry served. Further, how many relevant messages does the name map to?

5. Depth: Layer upon layer of meaning and association. Names with great depth never reveal all they have to offer all at once, but keep surprising you with new ideas.

6. Humanity: A measure of a name’s warmth, its “humanness,” as opposed to names that are cold, clinical, unemotional. Another — though not foolproof — way to think about this category is to imagine each of the names as a nickname for one of your children.

7. Energy: How vital and full of life is the name? Does it have buzz? Can it carry an ad campaign on its shoulders? Is it a force to be reckoned with? These are all aspects of a name’s energy level.

8. Magic / Evocativeness: The force of brand magic, and the word-of-mouth buzz that a name is likely to generate. It’s that certain something that makes people lean forward and want to learn more about a brand, and to want to share the brand with others. The “magic” angle is different for each name.

10. Domain Availability: Is there a version of this name available at a domain name you feel comfortable with? YourName.com may not be available, so you’ll have to see if some suitable version of that name is available

STEP 4 – CHECK NAME AVAILABILITY & TRADEMARK

Once you have determined that your chosen business name is available for registration in your state you can check its availability nationwide. 

This step IS NOT necessary if you plan to sell only within your state as a local business – and you registered your name with your Secretary of State.

This step IS needed if you plan to distribute your products nationwide. We highly recommend this federal trademark search. This will be your first step in securing your registered trademark. 

Trademark lookups are important because it can cost you lots of wasted money and time if another business has already registered your trademark in these ways: 

  • Expensive Lawsuits – You can be sued in Federal court for trademark infringement – even if you were unaware of the other company’s products! The average trademark infringement lawsuit costs tens of thousands of dollars and takes many months to resolve.
  • Additional Costs to Change Packaging – You may have to change all your packaging, signs, logo, and website – at considerable cost – to avoid costly litigation. 

Avoid this trouble by conducting a proper trademark lookup search before you settle on a final business name. 

You can search the US Patent and Trademark database yourself for free here to see if any trademark has already been registered or applied for that is:

  • Similar to your trademark
  • Used on related products or for related services
  • Live

A trademark that meets all three criteria will prevent your trademark from being registered because it creates a likelihood of confusion. 

USPO United States Patent and Trademark Office

While you can DIY search the database it is complex and there are many subtle (but critically important) details that will affect your results.

As such, we generally recommend spending a few hundred dollars to get a professional trademark search (surprisingly affordable) if you plan to invest substantial capital in your nationwide startup. 


If you decide to do a business name trademark search yourself, here are important tips to get correct results. 

  1. Look for marks that are similar and in your SAME class of goods and services category (see list here)

    These will be considered “confusingly similar” and be non-trademarkable. You can trademark an identical name IF the products are from different industries such as Delta Airlines and Delta faucets. 
  2. Check trademark status with alternate spellings and word endings. The USPTO uses the example of “T.Markey” and “Tee Marquee” to illustrate similar names.

Learn about the differences between trademarks and registered trademarks in our article

Use a professional search company. If you find a good domain name that closely matches your business name don’t hesitate to reserve it today to prevent competitors from stealing it from you by registering it first!

What to do if you have a few name ideas on your shortlist?

Go ahead and purchase a few domain names so you know that whatever name you select as your final business name you will have the matching domain name.

We advise our entrepreneur clients that purchasing their domain name is an important first step that starts their business and is a big confidence booster. 

What if Domain Name is Taken & Unavailable 

Please do not be discouraged if your desired perfect matching domain name (or the .com extension) is unavailable. That is increasingly the case for many business owners.

No worries you can still get a great domain name – maybe even better than the one you first wanted. Use our top tips on what to do if your desired business name matching domain name (or the .COM version)  is unavailable:

  1. Get your domain name with an alternate extension such as  .NET, .ORG (if your company is non-profit), country-specific .US, .CO (for company) or .INFO (good for blogs and informational sites), .STORE (good for e-commerce shops and dropshipping sites) and .WEBSITE or .SITE (it is good for local businesses and consultants) 
  2. Add a verb to your domain name idea – By adding an action word to your website name you create a dynamic internet URL. Use words such as; get, buy, visit, help and cook to expand your domain search.

    An example, if your desired business name is Vegan Babe and it is taken then try adding verbs (in different tenses), such as cook, cooks or cooking and check if that domain name is available – VeganBabeCooks.com or VeganBabeCooking
  3. Add geographic terms to your name – If BobsBBQ.com is taken consider adding words for your region (country, state – but avoid cities they can limit your future expansion – unless you live in a large metro area) to find an available domain name such as BobsBBQTexas or BobsBBQWest. 
  4. Consider a catch phrase – Remember that your business name and your domain name do not necessarily need to match exactly. (read our article about matching names here).

    Think about using a short, memorable phrase that is associated with your products. Nike has registered the domain name – JustDoIt.com which forwards directly to its main domain Nike.com. Using a few more words will greatly expand your domain name choices. 
  5. Create meaningful abbreviations – Try getting creative with abbreviations. Add letters or numbers to in place of words such as; R for are, 2 for to (or too),  4 to replace for, and then see if you can find a good domain name.

Still didn’t find your best domain name? Here are 13 more ways to search for a good website name from internet marketing expert Neil Patel

The next step in your complete business naming process is to search for your social media profile account names on sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. 

Reserve Your Social Media Usernames

If you would prefer to search each separate network for your user name availability and to set up your accounts, use our social media account name tips below:

YouTube

Youtube user names must be between 6 and 20 characters. Be sure to select a name related to your content, however, try not to be so specific as to limit your future expansion.

Twitter 

Your Twitter username cannot be longer than 15 characters. Your personal name can be longer (50 characters), but usernames are kept shorter for the sake of ease. Check to make sure your desired username doesn’t contain any symbols, dashes, or spaces. 

A username can only contain alphanumeric characters (letters A-Z, numbers 0-9) with the exception of underscores, as noted below. 

Adding underscores before or after your desired username will help you claim a unique username on Twitter. 

Example: if you would like the username @lindsay but it has been claimed, consider selecting a name like @lindsay_ or @_lindsay.

More smart tips on creating good Twitter usernames from Dummies

Facebook

You need two user names on Facebook, one that is your personal name to access the site and the second which is more commonly called your Business Page Name to build and promote your business.

Here is how to get a business user name for Facebook from Dummies.

Pinterest

Just like Facebook does, Pinterest requires you to have two accounts – your personal and business. Your username can be 3-30 characters, and can’t have spaces, symbols, or punctuation.

Your account URL will be your username. An example is, Pinterest has the username ‘Pinterest’ and can be found at pinterest.com/Pinterest.

Instagram

Your Instagram account username is also called your “handle”. It will be written as your username with an “@” before it. This Instagram handle is the name you choose to represent the URL address of your Instagram page.

It is important to include your company name in your Instagram account username so you can create powerful branded hashtags with your company name on Instagram.  

Don’t let your business name hold you back

I mean that in two ways.

First, name choices, in my experience, are always uncomfortable. Every single time I’ve been involved with naming something — whether it’s a business or a podcast or product — the name didn’t jump right out. It required deliberation, mulling over and, ultimately, a decision wew were’n entirely comfortable with at first.

Over time, the top choice names started to feel better and better. I call this the picking the least-worst option naming strategy. Apple, the lore goes, was the least worst name on Steve Jobs’ list. So, the first thing to know is that naming decisions are never easy; sometimes you have to go with your least-worst option.

And second, names often require some getting used to, or, as I like to say, some growing into.

Does “Apple” sound like a stupid name now? Nope. We don’t even think of it as a fruit. They grew into it. Some names need to be grown into, lived in — they’re empty vessels that need some time and experience. They need to be worn in a bit, both by you and your customers.

Sometimes you gotta pick the least worst option and go with a name you’re not completely sure about. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your due diligence

Does LLC name have to match my business name?

No, your LLC name does not have to be your business name or match your website name. Your LLC name is your company’s legal entity name while your business name is your brand name to market to your customers. However, in most cases you’ll need to reference your registered LLC name so customers know who is responsible for what you do. Typical ways to do this is using terms that indicate the business name, brand or website is a product, trademark or DBA of your LLC.  

✔ Learn more about LLC names – how to name your LLC and get links to your State’s LLC name lookup in our article here

How to Search Business Name Availability all 50 States, USA

Choosing a business name is tricky, but it’s important to get it right. It should be short and sweet, easy to remember, and as descriptive as possible.

But what really matters at the end of the day is if that company name is available.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.

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Written by Team ZenBusiness

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