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How to Choose the Perfect Business Name

How to Choose the Perfect Business Name

{4 minute read}

Your business name is vitally important. It conveys a message to the world, so it’s critical to get it right. However, ‘right’ is not a static concept.

What’s perfect for one business will be entirely wrong for another, even when they offer similar products or services. Ultimately, it comes down to selecting a name that represents you, that positions your business in the way that you want and that your ideal customers will respond to as well.

Try this 5-Step process to find the perfect name for your business:

Step 1: Choose the right type of business name


There are four main types of business name. Let's start with descriptive names. These tell the world exactly what your business does. Some examples are “Domino’s Pizza” or “Kmart Tyre and Auto”. From their names alone, it's pretty clear what each of these businesses offers. This can be a really useful approach if you want to get the message about what you do out quickly and succinctly.


Then there are abstract names.  An abstract name is one that doesn’t explain precisely what the business does but relies on sticking in people’s minds as a result of its uniqueness or even quirkiness. One example is “Lululemon”. Unless you’re familiar with their brand, it’s highly unlikely you’d ever guess what it is they sell. Another abstract approach is to use the initials of your name {or perhaps combine them with the initials of your business partner’s name if you have one}. This is a fairly standard approach and is especially prevalent in consulting and traditional businesses such as accounting.


A third option is to use a made-up word. Here's where accounting firm “Accenture” departed from their industry norm by combining the concepts of accounting and the future in their name. Made-up names rely on developing a memorable presence in the market, rather than being descriptive about what you do.

Your own name:

Finally, why not use your own name? Again, this can work extremely well for consulting practices, where clients want the security of knowing who they're dealing with. It helps to develop trust. It's equally great in a situation where you want to build and leverage your own brand and want to have your face and personality upfront for your customers/clients/followers to connect with. That can be very powerful.

Step 2: Brainstorm your ideas

Once you’ve decided on the type of business name you want to use, it’s time to brainstorm some options.

So, grab a notepad and let your ideas flow. This is not the time to be rigid in your thinking. Just write down whatever ideas come to mind and keep going until you have at least four to seven possibilities that feel right for you. This exercise may take ten minutes, or it may take several days. If you need a break, take it. That’s often when the best ideas pop up!

When you’re happy with your potential business name candidates, record them and come back to them with fresh eyes in Step 3.

Step 3: Get feedback.

In this next step, I encourage you to ask others for their feedback to help you whittle down your options. This could be your friends, family, colleagues and/or potential clients. They may even come up with alternatives, or variations from your original ideas, that you hadn't considered.

There are many ways to get good quality and relevant feedback. Here’s a few suggestions:

a) Email a few of your trusted industry associates to ask their opinion

b) Invite some of your {wise} friends to give their honest opinion

c) Share a coffee and a chat with a colleague who understands your business ideas

d) Create a poll to survey other members in a trusted private Facebook Group {and please be wary of sharing your ideas too widely on the web ….. people have been known to squat on domain names so that you’ll have to pay more to use them. Not nice, but it happens!}

e) If you want to speak directly with your potential customers {great idea!} and have the time to spare, you could stand outside a competitor’s premises and ask their existing customers which name they like best. This can be very effective. Just make sure to be transparent and super polite to your interviewees, and avoid annoying the business owner too.

Step 4: Check for availability.

Now, check whether your potential business names are available to use.

Domain name

Firstly find out if you can get the domain name you want.

There are two ways to do this. You could type the name you want into a search engine and see if anything comes up.

However, a more reliable way to check for domain name availability is to use a domain name registration site. These are free to check, and will usually return information on all available options such as .com, .net, .org and the various country domain name extensions such as .com.au or .co.uk.

Many people prefer to select a .com or .net extension, but if your business is local, then a country extension may be completely fine too.

Don’t panic if your first preference is already taken. Play around with different versions and variations and bookmark those that are available.

A word of warning, don’t buy your domain name just yet. For now, just make a note of the ones you like the most as there are a couple more steps to complete before you commit.

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Business name registration

Most countries and/or states have some form of legal business name registration process, so you’ll need to find out what the rules are in your region, and how to go about the process.

{If you need to know more about this then you should ask your accountant or legal advisor for more information, or start with an internet search to locate relevant government websites - many will have all the information you need available on their site,  or you may need to telephone or email them to find out more.}

Many business registration websites have functionality that will allow you to check busines name availability. Check these first, and if your potential names are not available, you may need to amend them so they won't clash with an existing business.

Now, refine your list of potential names based on your research.

Step 5: Use the power of your subconscious mind 

Then, sleep on it!  You’ve done a tonne of work, and it’s time to let your subconscious take over. Before you go to sleep, instruct your unconscious mind to choose the best name for you. See how you feel about your name options when you wake up in the morning.

There’s lots of evidence to support the power of our subconscious mind in helping us make decisions, so give it a try - it can’t hurt!

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