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Tips for Choosing a Business Name that is Unique, and Web-Ready

February 17, 2010

From business.gov community by CaronBeesley

Only a few years ago, choosing a business name meant picking an identity for your start-up that would feature in a fairly narrow range of outlets – your signage, invoice, business card and basic advertising.

Today, however, with the huge growth in the availability of diverse marketing tools with which to promote your business – from Web sites to social media networking  platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more – getting your business name right, first time, is more important than ever.

The consequences of getting it wrong can incur troublesome and time consuming business penalties. Consider this: If you operate a Web site and choose to change your company name, you will need to change not only your logo and Web content, but your domain name, too. While this is perfectly feasible and usually free, the impact on Google rankings and other search engines can have a negative impact on the user experience and your brand. 

In addition, any references to your brand already “out there” on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and forums will also suffer from any re-naming venture.

So getting your business name right – first time – is critical. Once you are happy with your choice, it’s also important that you take steps to protect it against trademark infringement and register it with the right regulatory bodies for the purposes of taxation, incorporation, licenses, and permits.

With all these considerations in mind, here are some quick tips for choosing a business name that works for your small business venture in a Web savvy world- and, in my next post I’ll explain how you can make sure your business name is legal and protected.

1. Choose a Business Name that Makes Sense for Your Business

Before you pick the first name that springs to mind, think about how your name will be used. If you are simply starting out as a one-man-band freelancer it’s very easy to just operate your business under your personal name. But, if you anticipate being in business for the long haul, you might want to consider a business trade name that can scale with you. Here are some points to consider:

Imagine how the potential name will:

  • Look (on business cards, Web site, advertisements, with a logo)
  • Sound (ease of pronunciation)
  • Be remembered (connotations the name may evoke)
  • Distinguish you from competitors (avoid trademark infringements)

You may want to avoid:

  • Embarrassing spellings, abbreviations, profanities, potentially offensive undertones
  • Implied associations with organizations/people the business is not connected with

2. Choose a Name that Works on the Web

Since we live in an online world, take time to research whether your business name is Web ready. Consider the following:

  • Conduct a Domain Name Search – This will help you identify whether you can actually set up a Web site with a Web address (domain name) that is clearly affiliated with your business. You can do a quick domain name search in the WHOIS database *here. It will let you know whether your preferred domain name, e.g. http://www.johndoeconsulting.com/ is available for use or not. If it is available you can claim it as yours early in the business naming process – long before you get around to creating a Web site. If the domain name has already been claimed, you may need to revisit your name idea. Read *Tips on Choosing a Good Domain Name from *www.thesitewizard.com.
  • Is your Business Name Email Friendly? – For the purposes of setting up a business email, consider whether your chosen business name is memorable and easy to spell. You may even want to consider abbreviating your company name to an acronym for email purposes. Also, if you or future employees have long names, determine whether your email naming policy will include first and last names (john.doe@johndoeconsulting.com) , first initial and last name (j.doe@johndoeconsulting.com) or simply first names (john@johndoeconsulting.com).
  • Is your Business Name Social Media Ready?- As well as checking the availability of your business name as a potential domain name, take time to conduct a search of Twitter and Facebook to ensure that no other businesses or brands are operating in the social networking world with the same, or similar name. Even if you don’t intend to use social networking tools to promote your business, any defaming or controversy that can arise online may unwittingly tarnish your brand.

Additional Resources

 *Note – Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Winning Names permalink
    February 24, 2010 11:46 am

    Another tip … Write down your proposed name as all one word, the way it will be seen when it’s a URL. Therapist can be read as two words The R…. and Leads Exchange can be read as three words Lead S……

  2. March 4, 2010 12:27 pm

    Amazing post! I loved how informative it was, keep them coming! Cheers!

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