7 Valuable Tips to Perfectly Name Your New Startup

You just had the perfect business idea and now you’re scrambling around to put together a business plan that’s going to take it to fruition. You’ve pulled together the capital you need to kick-start it; assembled a really good team or you’ve opted to go the journey alone. You have a great location in mind, if a brick and mortar business is your thing or maybe you’ll be working from home. Fantastic! 

There’s just ONE tiny little detail that’s holding you back. You can’t quite come up with the perfect business name! Or maybe you have, but you’re not sure what to do next. And how well the new name will be received by your target market or audience?

Here are seven tips to help you name your new startup.

1. The name should be easily pronounced, especially if it’s a made-up word.
Brands like Häagen-Dazs come to mind. Naming your company is a lot like finding the perfect name for a baby. While it’s great that you want to be extremely creative and original, sometimes reining that enthusiasm in is not such a bad approach. Every day people mispronounce global brands like Nike, Volkswagen, Louis Vuitton, Hublot, and IKEA. Keep it simple and ensure the winning name is one everyone else (not just you) will be able to sound out properly. Be sure it can be pronounced properly in foreign countries (with foreign languages) as well.

The Swiss luxury watchmaker is pronounced “oo-blow”, not “hub-lot”

2. Don’t get a generic name that lacks meaning to your startup.
Try to focus on being authentic, original, and personalise your startup. Your goal should be to stand out from the crowd. If you’re thinking of starting a flower shop, the words “flower shop” don’t need to always be included. Examine your company’s products and services to draw some inspiration for good name options. The activewear brand, Under Armour makes for a good example in those instances. You can also stop and think about what is it you want your customers to do like action camera manufacturer GoPro (Go professional). Get it?

Read: Found a Great Business Name? Save Yourself Some Money and Make Sure It’s Available! ‏

3. Avoid using acronyms or shortened names.
While dropping vowels from words to create the perfect name for a tech startup seems to be all the rage these days, using acronyms or initials for your catering business might not work. You first priority will be to build your brand and identity. Trying to be “cool” or “trendy” is not where you need to be putting your efforts, especially as it relates to marketing (and advertising). Let your target market get used to hearing your company name in full (as is). A company like 3M (Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company) rebranded because its customers came up with the name. In those instances it works to go with a shortened version of your company name.

3M products.jpg
3M has evolved into a company best known for its Post-it products

4. Make sure it’s a name you can have trademarked.
Here’s one of the most common mistakes those new to entrepreneurship typically make. They create the perfect business, find the best location and space (if it’s a brick and mortar model), and the ideal name for their startup. Everything looks great on paper too. Do you only want to sell within your own country or do you eventually want to become an international merchant? Please ensure you declare your business ambitions. When they go in to register their business name and logo that’s when they find out the name or something like it already exists, whether locally or internationally. That takes me to my next tip.

5. Check your local registrar of companies and do your own search for the name availability.
Do your research from the very start. There’s nothing more disappointing than failing to look into name availability for a startup. In most countries, all it takes is phone call or an online search on your local registrar of companies’ website. In Ontario, Canada for example, you can contact Service Canada to search for, register and renew a business name online. It’s usually offered as a government service and search is usually free. Registration on the other hand is done at a nominal fee. If you haven’t decided on a name, bring your list with you and take the time to find out if any or all are already taken. Invest the time in research so you don’t wind up wasting a lot of that precious resource.

Service Canada
A Service Canada location | Source: The Canadian Press Images | Lars Hagberg

6. Google is also perfect to do business name search.
Most people might not be aware, but there’s no platform better for a name search than Google. It’s one of the easiest ways and points to start from. It’s also FREE! Simply type in the name (or names) you have in mind and see what the results return. For the record that was NOT a lesson on “How to Google For Dummies”. However, try to combine this with checking with your local registrar of companies. Some businesses may or may not have a digital or online footprint depending on where in the world they are.

7. Test it out on your family and friends to gain their feedback.
This one is perhaps one of the most important tips I can leave with you. Always, always, always test out your potential startup names on your family members and close friends. Their feedback will be invaluable. Before you try out your names on them, be sure to give them context about your business, services, products, target market, and ambitions. Sometimes what we think is a winner, is actually not. What sounds good to us might not sound good to the masses. So get out your list, put it on a wall for all to see, get a marker (Sharpie works fine), and start eliminating the names they dislike and checking the ones they do like.

Remember, your business name is the foundation on which your brand and identity will be built. Get it right.

Found a Great Business Name? Save Yourself Some Money and Make Sure It’s Available! ‏

What’s the best business name you’ve ever heard of? Thought about it yet? Okay, now think how different things could’ve gone for those companies if they lost out on the name they really wanted. Google for instance, initially went by “BackRub” until Larry Page and Sergey Brin changed it to its current household name (now worth US$268bn) according to Forbes World’s Most Valuable Brands.

The last time I wrote a blog closely related to this subject it looked specifically on naming your business. This time around I think it’s just as important to outline why you should do everything to keep your newly discovered business name.

This is the perfect example of a made up name that was pure genius for the business
This is the perfect example of a made up name that was pure genius for the business

In the past I’ve either heard the business names my friends came up with or I’ve helped them create the names that were both great and catchy that fit their business idea perfectly. Unfortunately they’ve never gotten a chance to use them. On the flip-side, I’ve had friends who came up with great names, started using them, but who later found out the name was taken by someone else. First come, first served, right? Here’s what happened to them in those instances:

1) They failed to register the name with the Companies Office of Jamaica (or its equivalent in your country);
2) They didn’t do adequate online research on name availability;
3) Or they thought the name was too unique and original to be created by someone else.

When the opportunity presents itself, take it before it's gone
When the opportunity presents itself, take it before it’s gone

When you’ve struck gold with a potential business name (forgive the cliché), you need to strike while the iron is hot! Any hesitation on your part could mean losing what could’ve been a lucrative business. After all, the name is half the battle. Your business name will influence the logo design, identity, and brand that you will develop for your start-up. This requires an investment of your time and capital (usually limited) into print and web presence (domain name, website, social media — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.).

The worse thing that could possibly go wrong is when you’ve invested in a business name that is already taken and is being used by someone else. You just wasted your effort and lost earning potential and some customers. You will now have to go back to ye olde drawing board like Marvin the Martian (below).

Give some thought to how big you want to grow. If you’d like to see your business in international markets (export) then your business name will need to be an “original”. There are exceptions that can occur when you came up with a name that already exists, if and only if that business is in a completely different category as yours; let’s say making hats versus making cars. It happens.

At the end of the day though, it’s best to save yourself any unnecessary headache as it relates to intellectual property, trademark, and copyright infringements. Not only that, the added costs of already hiring a graphic designer, professional photographer, marketing expert, and others can amount to a lot of cash. Think about all that I’ve just said to you and do yourself a favour, research, and register before your business name is redundant (for you at least).

Originality won’t “amount” to much if you’ve botched the execution.

Here’s a Quick Way to Name a Graphic Design Business or Any Other

The other day I responded to a question via LinkedIn on “What is a better strategy, using your name as a solitary (graphic) designer, or using a company name like (such and such designs) how does this impact on getting new clients?”

Here was my response written below:

Personally I think using either your name or using a graphic design company name works well. I suppose what you have to look at is where you want to take your company in the short, medium and long-term and make your choice based on your goals and aspirations. I think too that you can bring in your personality into your (graphic design) business name by using your name as the inspiration.

Read: 7 Valuable Tips to Perfectly Name Your New Startup

In my case, by using my initials ‘P.H.R.’ as the inspiration, I was able to create a name that said what my company did and what it was about, so in the end I came up with ‘phresh Ideas & Designs’. The first three letters in ‘phresh’ are my initials.


Though the response was to a graphic designer, the approach is still applicable in naming any startup or company. Good luck!