The Name Game: Tips and Tools for Naming Your New Company

by Ryan Laneville

3 min read

Picking a name for your company is one the most important parts of starting a business. Your company’s name will be written, searched, drawn, spoken and maybe even whispered in certain circles, so it’s your job to make sure you pick a name that is distinctive, memorable, reflective of your company’s values, and, most importantly, is legal.

There’s a lot of information out there on how to choose a company name and you’ll quickly find a common set of key recommendations:

Make a list

Like any brainstorming process, it’s best to start with a lot of ideas and then whittle them down to a handful of final contenders. This is especially true with name choices because, as you’ll see later in this article, you might need some backups in your pocket. If you want to get creative, you can plug keywords into name generator sites like BusinessNameGenerator.com, Wordoid.com or Rhymer.com.

Keep it short and simple

Your ideal name should be easy for people to pronounce and understand. Avoid long names and aim for simple spellings (without having to explain that the “r” is silent). “Any time you have to explain your name or apologize for it, you’re just devaluing your brand,” said Alexandra Watkins, the Chief Innovation Officer of Eat My Words, a San Francisco-based naming company, in an interview with Inc.

Do a business name/trademark search

Before you get too attached to a name, you should run a NUANS Corporate Name Search to confirm if someone else has already claimed it. By law, the name of your business can’t be the same as (or very similar to) any existing corporate name or trademark. If the NUANS report returns no matches, you should still do some extra homework and use the Canada Business Network’s links to each province’s business registries to confirm no similar names exist in those databases either.

Check if the domain name is available

Sites like BustAName.com not only let you see what’s available for domains, you can also browse alternatives if your first choice is already taken. The site lets you enter keywords related to your company and it generates different combinations of available domain names. You never know, this might even reveal a great name option you hadn’t previously considered.

If the perfect domain name is not available, you might want to consider finding the owner of the domain name utilizing a service like Domain Tools. On average purchasing a domain name can cost less than $5000. Be sure to check with your books to see how much you can afford to spend on a domain name. If your business utilizes Intuit’s bookkeeping software, you can check the dashboard to get a quick sense of your current budget capabilities.

Check if social media accounts are available

This is another scenario where your ideal name might already be taken. Use a site like Namechk.com to check all the major social media platforms at once.

Take it for a test drive before you commit

Once you’ve done your homework and you think you’ve got a winner, try the name out on a small sample group. Bounce it off your employees and colleagues, test it with potential clients or customers, or maybe try it as an ice-breaker at a party. This will quickly reveal if your name choice gets the reaction you expect and makes the impression you want. You may also want to run your final choice through the SMILE & SCRATCH Test, a method coined by Eat My Words to suss out what makes or breaks a name.

If there’s one thing that trumps all these points, it’s that you have to believe in your name. Make sure the name you choose is a name that you are 100 per cent in love with because it will be one of the first words out of your mouth every time you talk about your company. If it’s something you simply settled on, people will be able to pick up on that. Don’t underestimate the power of being truly happy and enthusiastic with your name. You can go out and follow all the best advice and come up with a short, memorable, unique, web-friendly business name but if you aren’t completely happy with it; you might as well start over.

Photo Copyright: Manczurov

 

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