The art of naming your business: A guide to choosing the perfect business name

28/04/2023

Coming up with a business name is an exciting yet challenging task that requires careful consideration and research.

Your business name will be the first thing people associate with your brand, and it’s crucial to make a positive first impression. A well-thought-out name can help you stand out in a crowded market, attract customers, and build a strong brand identity.

In this article, we’ll discuss the essential steps to coming up with a business name that’s unique, memorable, and legally available.

Step 1: Define your mission, vision, values and goals

Before you start brainstorming names, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the mission, vision, values and goals of your business or service. These things help make up the brand identity of the business and are important to identify before you start thinking about a name.

Ask yourself what your business stands for, what makes it unique, and what message you want to convey to your target audience. This will help you come up with a name that accurately represents your brand and resonates with your customers.

TIP: To learn more about missions, vision, values and goals check out Mission, vision, values, and goals: The cornerstones of a successful business.

Step 2: Define your ideal target market

Before you start brainstorming business names, it’s important to define your ideal target market. This means understanding who your ideal customers are, what they value, and how you can meet their needs. By doing so, you can create a business name that resonates with your target audience and sets you apart from competitors.

Once you have a clear understanding of your ideal target market, you can use this information to generate business name ideas that appeal to them.

Step 3: Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Your unique selling proposition (USP) is one or two short snappy sentences that describe your business and what sets your business apart from competitors and makes it unique. It’s the value proposition that answers the question, “Why should customers choose your business over others?”

Defining your USP is crucial to creating a business name that reflects what you offer and how you stand out.

Step 4: Brainstorm business name ideas

Once you have a clear understanding of your brand and ideal target market it’s time to start brainstorming name ideas. Start by writing down a list of words that relate to your business, including keywords, synonyms, and related terms. Try to come up with at least 20-30 name ideas to give yourself plenty of options.

Tips to help you generate business name ideas:

  • Use descriptive words that reflect your business’s personality and values.
  • Choose a name that’s easy to pronounce, spell, and remember.
  • Consider using puns, alliteration, or other creative wordplay to make your name memorable.
  • Avoid names that are too generic, similar to competitors, or difficult to spell or pronounce.
  • Test your business name ideas with your target audience to get feedback and insights.

Places you can go to help you come up with ideas for your business name:

  • Use google by searching for ‘name ideas for such and such business’
  • Use google to find name generating tools such as Wordoid or NameMesh; some will be free and some will be paid.
  • Use a thesaurus or dictionary.

Once you have a shortlist of names, refine them down further then it’s time to move on to the next step and check their availability.

Step 5: Check availability

Before you get too attached to any name ideas, it’s essential to check their availability.

  1. Companies register: Start by checking if the name is already registered with your country’s companies register. This will prevent any legal issues down the line and ensure that you’re not infringing on someone else’s trademark. For New Zealand business go to https://companies-register.companiesoffice.govt.nz/
  2. Check if the domain name is available: If the name doesn’t come up on the companies register check if the domain name is available in the extension that you need (.com, .co.nz, etc.). It’s important to choose a domain name that matches your business name and use an extension that is appropriate for your type of business. Don’t for example use .org if .com or .co.nz isn’t available – find another name. A good place to check is https://www.domainz.net.nz/. This is not necessarily the best place to buy your domain name. Talk to your web developer to get their recommendation on who to buy your domain name from or if they do it for you.
  3. Check if the facebook name if available: Do a search for any names you are interested in on Facebook, including under people, pages and groups. Make sure you scroll down a bit to see if there are similar names that might create a conflict for your business or create a potential intellectual property rights conflict. So for example of you are thinking of using the name ‘xxxx yyyy’ and you see that someone in the same or similar industry targeting the same or similar customers has the name ‘yyyy xxxx’ then you might want to reconsider using that name. Or if you see that someone on the other side of the world is using the same name and they have a well-established business in your same or similar industry you again might want to think carefully as to whether you take the risk and use that name or find something unique to you. If you come across a business using the name you were hoping to use that has many followers no matter where in the world they are it’s not advisable to use that name as you could find yourself getting a letter from their solicitor.
  4. Check other social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikToc: If you don’t intend to be active on these platforms it’s still advisable to check just in case a big well established business is already using the name you are considering. It’s unlikely as they should have a website and facebook page but it’s worth the time to do this to avoid spending time and money building a brand that you may have to discontinue if you inadvertently ‘copied’ a big brand name.
  5. Check relevant international authorities: If your target audience includes international customers, it’s VERY important to find out what checks you need to do when coming up with a name where your target audience is international. It’s more common in some countries to register trademarks for example. It’s recommended you involve an intellectual property lawyer to help you do the appropriate checks if your target market is international.

Step 6: Test your name

Once you have a shortlist of potential names, it’s a good idea to test them with your target audience. Ask friends, family, and potential customers for their feedback on your name ideas. Consider factors like memorability, ease of pronunciation, and whether the name accurately represents your brand.

Step 7: Do you need the help of an intellectual property lawyer?

Decide if you need to involve an intellectual property lawyer before making your final decision to help you do the final checks before committing to a name. Only you can decide whether it’s worth investing in this service.

Step 8: Make a decision

After considering all the factors above, it’s time to make the final decision on your business name. Choose a name that’s unique, memorable, and accurately represents your brand. Make sure the name is legally available and has a matching domain name available.

Remember that your business name is an essential part of your brand identity, and it will stay with you for a long time. Take your time, do your research, and choose a name that you’re proud to call your own.

Step 8: Register your domain name

Once you’ve chosen your business name and confirmed that the domain name is available, it’s time to register your domain name.

It’s important to register your domain names with a reputable domain registrar. Talk to your web developer for recommendations. It’s strongly recommended that you purchase multiple domain extensions, such as .com, .co.nz, and .nz to protect your brand and prevent competitors from registering similar names.

Step 9: Consider trademarking your name

Trademarking your business name can give you legal protection and prevent others from using your name for their own business.

A trademark is a legal registration of a word, phrase, symbol, or design that distinguishes a product or service from others in the market.

To trademark your business name, you’ll need to conduct a trademark search to ensure that no one else is already using the name. You can hire a trademark attorney to help you with the process or use online services if they are available in your country. Keep in mind that trademark registration can be a lengthy and costly process, but it can offer significant benefits in the long run.

In conclusion

Coming up with a business name requires careful consideration and research. The steps outlined above will help you come up with a name that accurately represents your brand, attracts customers, and builds a strong brand identity.

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