Estimated reading time: 12 minutes
A good business name should embody the feeling of your brand. It should be memorable. It should remind your customers and employees why you’re doing what you’re doing. How to name a business is a challenging task. You could pay a naming agency thousands of dollars to find a new and on-trend business name, or you can get inspired and tackle naming your business on your own.
In this article, we cover creative and practical tips for coming up with a great business name idea, share things to check and consider and what to do once you come up with a business name.
How to come up with a business name: the ultimate guide
- 11 tips for coming up with a great business name idea
- Final check: 7 things to consider
- Next steps: what to do once you’ve come up with a business name
11 tips for coming up with a great business name idea
Let’s delve into the diverse sources of inspiration and creativity that can fuel your imagination and generate fantastic business name ideas.
1. Use your name
It’s your business, so why not incorporate your name? Many well-known brands use the creator’s name—like Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (named after Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield) or Boeing (named after founder William Boeing).
So, if you’re thinking about immortalizing your name in your business, know it’s a tried and tested practice. If you want to get a bit more creative, consider these options:
- Blend your name with relevant keywords or industry terms. For example, if your name is Jane and you run a bakery, you could create a business name like “Jane’s Sweet Delights.”
- Utilize your initials or create an acronym from your name. This approach can add a personal touch while allowing for versatility. For instance, if your name is Samuel Johnson and you provide consulting services, you could use “SJ Consulting.”
- Focus on your family name or surname as the foundation of your business name. This can create a sense of heritage and legacy. For example, “Anderson’s Auto Repair” or “Smith & Sons Construction.”
- Incorporate your name as a tagline or a prominent brand element. This way, your name becomes a memorable part of your brand identity without overwhelming the overall name. For instance, “Quality Meats: Sourced by John Doe” or “Innovative Tech Solutions by Emily Parker.”
Source: @edysgrocer on Instagram
2. Use foreign words
Another creative way to develop business name ideas is incorporating a non-native language. Foreign words can evoke a sense of intrigue and sophistication, giving your brand an exotic appeal, and being memorable for potential customers.
Choosing words that align with your brand’s values and resonate with your target audience is important. Be mindful of cultural connotations and ensure the selected word is easy to pronounce and remember. For example, “Bonjour Bakery” or “Serenità Spa.”
3. Combine several words into one business name
When creating a unique and memorable business name, one of the most creative approaches is unleashing the power of a mash-up.
Take two or three words that have deep meaning for you and your business. Can they be melded, either in fragments or as a whole?
Look no further than examples like TripAdvisor, Evernote (a fusion of “forever” and “note”), Netflix (combining “internet” and “flicks”) and Pinterest (a mix between “pin” and “interest”).
Imagine the impact of a name like “SaladGo,” instantly conveying that your eatery specializes in mouthwatering salads-to-go, all in three syllables.
4. Come up with a clever pun or a wordplay
When crafting a business name that stands out, don’t shy away from the delightful realm of clever puns and wordplay. These linguistic gems add a playful twist and leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Just imagine the joy of stumbling upon a name like “Curl Up & Dye” for a hair salon or “Bread Pitt” for a bakery!
To brainstorm your pun-tastic business name, think about words with multiple meanings, clever juxtapositions or unexpected combinations that bring a smile to people’s faces. Consider the nature of your business and industry, and look for wordplay opportunities that cleverly communicate your offerings.
Remember, though, wordplay should be used carefully, keeping in mind your target market’s preferences and the overall tone of your brand.
5. Tweak the spelling
Sometimes, a slight twist can make a big difference when creating a captivating business name. Consider using a familiar word or term that resonates with your industry or target audience but with a clever spelling modification. This approach adds a touch of uniqueness and memorability to your brand.
Take, for example, Flickr (instead of “flicker”), a popular photo-sharing platform that embraced the art of wordplay. By altering the spelling, they created a distinct and memorable brand name.
Other examples of brands that resorted to this strategy and opted for an alternative spelling of a common term or phrase include Lyft, the ride-sharing service, that opted for a trendy and unique spelling of “lift.”
When employing this strategy, maintain readability and ensure the modified spelling is clear to your customers. The goal is to strike a balance between familiarity and a fresh twist.
6. Use acronyms
Using initials is a popular approach for naming your business—it can be catchy, cool and oh-so-memorable. Think of UPS (United Parcel Service) or the beloved BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). These snappy abbreviations make a lasting impression and roll off the tongue effortlessly.
But not only world-renowned large corporations resort to this business naming idea. For instance, Allyson Marie Design decided to keep things simple and chose the acronym AM as her business name.
Source: @allyonmariedesign on Instagram
7. Get inspired by mythology or literature
Unleash the power of storytelling by delving into the realms of mythology or literature for a captivating business name that weaves together ancient tales and your brand’s unique qualities.
An example of a brand that went down this road is Nike, which is also the name of a Greek goddess who personified victory in any field, including art, music, war and athletics. If you’re wondering how to name a business using mythology, we recommend doing some research to see if there’s a mythological figure that’s relevant to your company.
Literary works, too, offer a wealth of characters whose traits can align with your business niche. Imagine a coffee shop named “Gatsby’s Grind,” conjuring the sophistication and elegance of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic character, perfect for a café that caters to the literary and artistic crowd.
8. Use words that imitate sounds
When crafting a business name that resonates with your audience, consider the power of onomatopoeic words—words that imitate the sounds they represent. These playful and expressive words can capture attention and evoke a sensory experience. Think of brands like “Popcorn Popper” or “Buzzing Bee” that use onomatopoeia to connect cusomters instantly with their products or services.
You can infuse your brand name with a lively and memorable quality by incorporating words that mimic sounds related to your business or industry. Whether it’s a restaurant named “Crunchy Bites” or a tech startup called “WhizTech,” these words engage the imagination and communicate something unique about your offerings.
9. Brainstorm business name ideas using available resources
When generating business name ideas, you don’t have to rely solely on your imagination. Use available resources to fuel your brainstorming sessions and uncover hidden gems. Here are some options:
- Thesaurus – find synonyms and antonyms related to your business that can spark new ideas
- Word association generators – explore unexpected connections, take fresh perspectives and uncover unique business name possibilities.
- Business name generators – experiment with a wide range of name ideas based on keywords, themes or styles you specify.
10. Make the name descriptive
When choosing a business name, being descriptive can be a powerful strategy to captivate your audience. A descriptive name immediately communicates what your business is all about, making it easier for potential customers to understand and remember.
- Focus on key attributes: Incorporate words or phrases highlighting qualities or features that set your business apart.
- Be specific but not too narrow: While it’s important to convey the nature of your business, avoid names that limit your potential to expand into new products, services, or markets.
- Consider the industry: Look at successful businesses in your industry and notice how they use descriptive names to their advantage. For example, “Healthy Bites” for a health food store
11. Think about the emotions you want your business name to evoke
Choosing a business name that evokes the right emotions can create a powerful connection with your target audience. Consider the feelings and associations you want your brand to evoke and infuse them into your name.
When brainstorming potential business names, don’t box yourself in or limit your imagination to one specific type of name. Don’t hold back or edit yourself in the process—let your creative juices flow freely, allowing yourself to explore a wide range of ideas. That way, you’ll have a hefty list of options.
Final check: 7 things to consider
Now that you have some business name ideas, it’s time to take a closer look at the things you need to consider when making the final decision.
- Check your business name is available
- Ensure your business name can withstand the test of time
- Focus on choosing a culturally appropriate business name
- Pick a business name that doesn’t limit your business growth
- Ensure your business name aligns with your target audience
- Avoid hard-to-spell, hard-to-pronounce business names
- Keep branding in mind
1. Check your business name is available
The nightmare scenario for your business is having a name that’s too similar or identical to an existing brand. Not only would it be a branding and marketing disaster of epic proportions, but it could also land you in the hot seat, facing lawsuits for trademark infringement.
You need to conduct thorough research and double-check that the business name you come up with is available. Here are some ways on how you can check:
- Conduct a simple web search. Look for existing businesses, websites or products with similar or identical names where you might have potential conflicts or brand confusion.
- Check if the domain name is available. Use domain registration websites or hosting platforms to search for the desired domain name (e.g. GoDaddyGoDaddy, Namechk).
- Check popular social media platforms to see if the desired business name is available as a username or handle.
- Conduct a trademark search. Visit the website of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or the relevant trademark authority in your country.
2. Ensure your business name can withstand the test of time
When choosing a business name, one of the main objectives is to boost brand awareness and stand out from the competition. So, hitching your business name to a current event or riding the wave of a pop culture phenomenon might seem like a shortcut to fame. But more often than not, such fame is extremely short-lived, ultimately leaving the business with more losses than gains.
Developing and registering a business name takes time. Integrating it into your brand’s broader identity requires careful consideration and planning. Aim for a business name that’s as timeless as captivating, ensuring your business remains relevant for the long haul.
3. Focus on choosing a culturally appropriate business name
When brainstorming a business name, mainly if it’s a compound word or a made-up term, it’s crucial to ensure that it doesn’t have any unintended and offensive meanings in other languages. This becomes even more important if you have plans to expand your business into international markets. Before you finalize that catchy name, do your due diligence to avoid unintentional language mishaps that could harm your brand’s reputation.
Use linguistic screening service providers, talk to friends who are native speakers from various countries, turn to Google Translate or conduct a general online search to get an idea of any potential linguistic red flags.
4. Pick a business name that doesn’t limit your business growth
Your business name plays a significant role in shaping your brand identity, and you want it to be a catalyst for growth rather than a roadblock. Opting for a business name that allows for future expansion and doesn’t confine you to a narrow niche is a smart move.
- If your business could move or expand into other locations, stay away from geographical business names like Brooklyn Wedding Magic or Fishing on Thames
- If your business might expand its reach or target broader audiences, avoid business names that confine you to a single audience, like Senior Dates or Londoner Insurance
- If you consider expanding your product or service range in the future, don’t specify your offerings in the business name, avoiding names like Lviv Croissants or Laptop World
Remember, a business name should have the flexibility to adapt and evolve as your business grows. Choosing a name that doesn’t limit your future possibilities sets you up for endless opportunities and growth.
5. Ensure your business name aligns with your target audience
Your name should resonate with your target audience and evoke a sense of connection to create a strong foundation for building brand loyalty and long-lasting customer relationships. Consider the following to strike a chord with your audience:
- Understand your audience. Dive deep into your target audience’s characteristics, preferences and aspirations.
- Reflect on their style. Tailor your name to match the style and tone your audience appreciates.
- Use emotion and imagery. A compelling name should evoke emotions and create vivid imagery that resonates with your audience.
6. Avoid hard-to-spell, hard-to-pronounce business names
If you’re coming up with a name for a small business, you need to understand that your business name needs to be as easy to spell and pronounce as possible for search and brand awareness purposes.
At the end of the day, if customers can’t find you, they’ll find someone else.
7. Keep branding in mind
When it comes to creating a business name, it’s not just a matter of gut feeling. It’s about the visual and auditory impact it has in different settings. To ensure your business name aligns perfectly with your brand, follow these expert steps:
- Put your name to the test by envisioning it in a captivating logo design. Place it on merchandise, create an email signature mock-up and visualize it on various brand materials.
- Let your business name dance off your tongue. Practice saying it aloud in conversations or even have a solo conversation with yourself in the mirror.
- Capture the professional essence of your business name by incorporating it into your email signature. Visualize it as an integral part of your day-to-day communication.
This hands-on process will boost your confidence in your chosen business name and ensure it harmonizes beautifully with your overall brand vision.
Next steps: what to do once you’ve come up with a business name
Congrats! You followed our best business naming practices and used one (or several) of our business naming ideas. Now you have a business name! What should you do next?
Step 1: Test your business name
Once you’ve crafted a business name that tickles your fancy, it’s crucial to gauge its impact on others.
Share your newly minted name with friends, relatives, colleagues, and, most importantly, individuals from your target audience. Seek their feedback and carefully consider the following points:
- What connections or associations do people make when they hear your business name?
- What connotations do people have with your business name? Does it elicit the desired feelings or sentiments you want your brand to convey?
- Can they pronounce your business name easily?
- Can they remember it?
- Can they spell it?
Step 2: Register your business name
Your next step is to register your business name. In the US, the Small Business Administration (SBA) notes four ways to register a business name. An entity name safeguards your business at a state level, while a trademark does the same at a federal level. Consider filing for a trademark to protect your business name from unauthorized use. Seek legal advice, if needed, to navigate the trademark registration process smoothly and safeguard your brand’s identity.
Register a domain name that matches or closely aligns with your brand. A domain name is your online address, allowing customers to find it.
Aim for consistency between your business name, trademark, domain name and social accounts. This helps establish a cohesive brand image and makes it easier for customers to find your business.
Step 3: Apply your business name to your branding and marketing materials
When you’re sure your business name is legally yours, it’s time to start bringing it to life across your branding.
Take advantage of the power of your name by incorporating it into various marketing assets. Start by creating a visually captivating logo that showcases your business name using one of VistaPrint’s design services, like 99designs by Vista, where professional designers can create a unique logo or take a do-it-yourself approach by using VistaPrint’s free logo maker.
Then, unleash your creativity and apply the newly designed logo to various materials, including business cards, merchandise, posters, signage and more.
A cohesive branding strategy reinforces your business name and establishes a strong visual identity that resonates with your audience. So, seize the opportunity to bring your business name to the forefront of your branding and let it shine across all your marketing assets.