For some people business names come easily, for others finding the right one is a major challenge. In How to Name Your Business I have listed the basic steps to follow in naming a business. If you are feeling really stymied, you may need to examine ways to inspire your creativity to give you an initial list of names. There are multiple "rules-of-thumb" that tend to be contradictory. Some insist that a business name should be descriptive of the business, others suggest being unique is the best way to be remembered.
Keep in mind that your business name is an important part of your marketing effort. It is a major component of how customers' perceive your business. Your business image is based on this perception. So, it is critical that it reflect the image that you want customers to have of your business.
My tendency is to go with what your inner voice (also referred to more primitively as "your gut") says is right for you. You are the one who has to live with this business day and night for a long time to come. So choose something you feel good about. One test might be to think about the name being splashed across a major headline (how about "Your Business Reports Phenomenal Profits"?). How does it feel to see that name in print representing your business? If it feels good, go with it.
If all else fails, there are businesses available that will help you find the right name and even provide an overall branding image for you. If you decide to go this route, look for a good fit for you. A positive first impression helps. How does their website fit with how you would like to be perceived? While not definitive, it certainly expresses their "style." Also, take time to think through what are the critical components of the name for you before approaching any business name vendor. You want this to reflect your concept, not someone else's. Keep in mind this is one of the most important decisions you will make about our business. It will determine how others perceive your business from now on.
As part of naming your business, you may also want to design a logo for your business. Again, if creativity is not your long suit, many of the businesses that help in naming will also design a logo. While all this may seem excessive, you will never regret the time you have spent on this part of setting up your business. This is the first piece and most critical part of marketing your business. Do it right and your future marketing will be much easier to plan and implement.
Picking a name for your business requires much more than just creativity and a working knowledge of your target market. First, you'll need to decide which business structure you will use, since each structure has its own peculiarities. For example, many states require a sole proprietor to use their own name as the business name unless they formally file another name as a trade name, or "fictitious name."
Of equal importance if finding out whether your name or a very similar name is being used by another business, and if so, what rights they may or may not have to use the name in the area where you do business. Keep in mind that some businesses only file trademarks within their locality, so it's possible that the same name can be used elsewhere.
Search and Registration
Trade names can be registered through state Secretary of State offices, and for wider marketplace protection, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark office (USPTO). Businesses should first use the USPTO's online system to search all state and federal trademark registers to see if their proposed name is being used.
For many businesses that operate on the Web, trade names are synonymous with domain names, such as Amazon.com and Monster.com. Domain names are not registered through state or local government. Rather they can be obtained through online businesses, which will allow you to conduct a name search prior to purchase to make sure your chosen name isn't taken.