HB.COM - Home Business info and guide 


Naming Your Business

The name of your business is often the first impression that others will have of you, and so it is important to come up with something positive and memorable. Some factors to consider:

  1. Length: Shorter names are easier to remember than longer ones. Try to keep it under 10 characters and a maximum of 2 words.
  2. Legal: Make sure that your business name doesn't infringe the intellectual property rights of others selling the same products or services. A search in Google is a useful first step. More formally, one can do a trademark search in the appropriate jurisdiction. In Canada, this can be done at CIPO. The USPTO handles US trademarks. You may wish to consult with an attorney if you ultimately plan to register a trademark.
  3. Spelling: A good name will be easy to spell. Consider that people might learn of your business name in many different types of media, both visually (e.g. print, internet) and aurally (telephone, radio). If your business name is a misspelling of a proper dictionary word, others might spell it the "correct" way instead. This might make it harder to find you. 
  4. Domain Name availability: Is the internet domain name that best reflects your business name available to be registered? With over 80 million dot-com addresses registered, most common words, phrases and acronyms have already been registered by others. This means one must either come up with a name that no one has ever thought of before, register a domain name in an alternate extension (such as .ca in Canada, or .us in the United States), or attempt to acquire the domain name from the current registrant (who may not be eager or willing to sell) by contacting them via their website or public WHOIS information.
  5. Industry Keywords: Use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to see what words and phrases are popular in your line of business. You might wish to incorporate some of them into your name. However, if you plan to grow into other areas you should choose a name that won't box you in.

To brainstorm, your best tools are a good dictionary and thesaurus. Keep a pen and paper handy, and write down all your ideas. Your spouse, relatives, children or friends might be able to give you ideas too.

There are companies that specialize in coming up with names for other companies, typically large multinationals with big budgets. Those would be overkill for a home business, however you might be inspired by their methodology and case studies to help you come up with a good business name. Landor, A Hundred Monkeys, Igor International and Tungsten Branding are a few examples of these branding consultants.

Other sources of inspiration might include the local Yellow Pages (see what your competitors name themselves), the Alexa list of top websites, and the Fortune 500 list of companies.