How to name your business

Selecting the perfect name can be one of the most important and potentially challenging steps of starting a business. While some entrepreneurs instinctively know how to come up with a moniker that encompasses what their venture stands for, others may struggle.

If you're in the latter camp, this compendium of The Balance's articles on the topic—ranging from domain-registering to title generators—can help you overcome your business-naming challenges.

Simple Steps to Help You Name a Business

How to name your business

One of the most effective ways to get started with naming your business is going back to the basics. Take time to consider the foundation of your enterprise—what you stand for and what you hope to accomplish—then follow a series of other steps to determine if the name you have in mind is a good one: brainstorm with others, let your ideas cool and revisit them, and – before you get too excited by your choice – make sure the name is available.

The Most Popular Styles of Business Names

How to name your business

Most business names fall into one of six standard categories. They include: "mainstream words," "made-up words," "owner's name," "obvious" (outlining what the firm is or does), "trendy words," and "initials or abbreviations." You can explore all these naming approaches to find a title that suits your business best.

Free Business Name Generators

How to name your business

If you hit a business-naming block, name generators can help your creative thinking. Based on keywords and other specs you provide, these 10 complementary tools come up with a moniker. Even if the one suggested isn't ideal, it can get you thinking creatively again—and you didn't spend a dime.

How to Develop a Domain Name

How to name your business

Registering a domain name is an important but often overlooked part of naming a business. Even if you don't anticipate creating a website right now, it doesn't hurt to secure a good, logical name for your venture on the web—just in case you do set up a site someday.

Usually, you should create a domain name concurrently with coming up with a business name. It should be short, easy to spell, and SEO-friendly. Once you hit on one, you should immediately register it.

The 10 Commandments of a Great Business Name

How to name your business

Once you have a name in mind for your business, review these 10 rules to make sure you're not missing something. They include getting different perspectives, avoiding legal problems, and ways to anticipate how the name will resonate in public. It's a good idea to avoid too-cutesy or pun-filled monikers – or names that evoke a famous company or brand. You don't want to be too local-sounding – so avoid having a neighborhood name in your title – but also avoid words like "global" or "worldwide." They're too high-falutin' for a start-up.

Entrepreneurs fret over packaging and a host of other details as they get started, and then leave one of the most important aspects as an afterthought.

The sad truth is that the right name can sometimes make all the difference when it comes to propelling a business to success, rather than just slogging on.

Consider this: Would you like “Patagonian toothfish” on your plate tonight for dinner? Hmm… not so much? Ok what about “Chilean Sea Bass?” That’s much better, right? Or another example is how Marion Morrison put on a cowboy hat, slung on a six-shooter and became “John Wayne.”

#insert related here#

Names are quite powerful. I pretty much started as a copywriter. I know that words are incredibly important. Each one has a distinct difference. Get the name right, and you get branding as a by-product of your advertising.

Here are seven things I consider when determining a business-related name:

1. The name needs to sound good when it’s said aloud. I’m a big fan of alliteration, using words that start with the same consonant, Coca-Cola or Jimmy John’s. Just make sure to say it aloud — a lot — and make sure this isn’t a “she sells seashells on the seashore” situation. People need to say the name on the radio, a video or in conversation.

2. Use a name that has meaning to it and conveys a benefit. If you heard it you’d know right away what it is. For example, my first “real” book was called, “Moonlighting on the Internet.” The word “moonlighting” instantly conveyed that this was about using the Internet in your spare time to make extra money. Also make sure the name isn’t too generic. Personally, I think Boston Chicken made a mistake when it changed its name to Boston Market. Don’t try to be everything to everybody with your name.

3. Avoid Web 2.0-ish syndrome. I still don’t know if you spell Flickr with an “er” or not. And I definitely have no idea how to spell delicio.us without looking it up. This sort of mildly dyslexic spelling is so last decade. Potential customers for your new venture of “Computer4You” should be able to easily look up the name, and they shouldn’t be asking whether a “you” is a “u.”

4. Beware initials. They are so boring. Yes, IBM and 3M have gotten away with initials, but these are multibillion-dollar corporations that have been around for decades. You can do the same when you’ve brought in billions of dollars over a hundred years. Until then, rely on a name that is interesting.

5. Use specifics. Don’t use a generic name that doesn’t mean anything. I like names that take advantage of details such as numbers and days. My buddy Tim Ferriss found a pretty specific and compelling name for his book “The 4-Hour Work Week.” Other titles that use numbers to focus in on specifics include “8 Minute Abs” and “5-hour Energy.”

6. Make sure you can trademark the name. Depending on how big you want to build the brand, this is an important consideration. It’s worth it to check USPTO.gov — or a new site called Trademarkia.com — before settling on a name.

7. Test it out on Google AdWords. One of the great features of the “find keywords” tool on AdWords is that it will list similar search phrases, along with how many global and local monthly searches each are getting. Some AdWords searches with the name you are considering can ensure there isn’t a slightly different name out there that might get more attention on the Internet.

If you really want to get advanced, try to come up with a name that could be eventually used as a verb, or lends itself to the creation of your own “language.” People who go to TED, the conference for Tech, Education and Design, now call themselves “TEDsters.” My company, Maverick Business Adventures, recalls “Maverick Moments” stories about happenings during a trip.

Continuing with our series on starting a business, choosing a name can be one of the most important, exciting and stressful decisions you make during the start-up phase of business ownership. You want your company’s name to be unique and memorable, but you also want people to “get it.”

You have to make sure the name is not already being used by another company…and then there comes the whole domain name issue. You need a good domain name to accompany your business web site, and that can take some creativity these days.

So where to start? I boiled down the business naming process to five general steps, but of course, this can vary. Also note that the process is based on starting a business in the U.S.

Step 1: Put It in Black and White

Your first step should be to get the most important details, guidelines and goals down on paper so you can refer to them during the process. Some questions you should consider include:

  • What message do you want to portray?
  • What do you want people to think when they see your company name?
  • Do you want a name with an available domain name?
  • Does it need to be an existing word or can it be created?
  • Does the length of the name matter? If so, do you want a short name or a longer name?

Now that you have clarity on what you want your business name to accomplish, it’s time to get to work.

Step 2: Consider Your Business Structure

Your business name may be impacted by the type of business you form and where you live. For example, some states require that sole proprietors use their own name as their business name unless they file a trade name under a “doing business as” (DBA) filing. And if you incorporate, your business name has to include the words “corporation,” “incorporated,” “limited” or “company,” the letters “Inc.”, or “Corp.” or some other phrase that indicates that the entity is a corporation.

If you’re not yet sure what structure your business will take or how to decide on one over another, stay tuned…we’ll be covering this later in this series.

Step 3: Brainstorm

This step can be a lot of fun if you focus on your creativity and let the ideas flow naturally. Break down your brainstorm into these different focus areas and see what you come up with in each:

  • Variations with spelling
  • Words related to what you do and/or how you do it
  • Synonyms
  • Made up words
  • Words from quotes or other inspirations

This step should result in several possibilities, all options you like, but keep in mind that all may not work, depending on availability. For help with the brainstorming process, review this brainstorming series I wrote last year.

Step 4: Check for Availability

Once you have a few possibilities, it’s time to determine if the name is available to use. To see if a name is federally trademarked, use USPTO’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS). If your business is a sole proprietorship and you plan to use a trade name, check your state and/or county to make sure it’s not already in use.

If your business name is not available as a domain, you may need to use an abbreviation, hyphens, or an alternate top level domain (such as .net). Or, you may want to move down your list of possibilities to the next name if there is a better domain name available.

Step 5: Register It

A sole proprietor in the U.S. is required to register their DBA with either their state or county clerk (see above for a link to a state site listing). Corporations, LLCs, or limited partnerships typically register their business name when the formation paperwork is filed.

It’s not required, but you may also want to register your business name for a trademark, either at the state level or for federal registration if your business will operate in more than one state.

This post covered some of the basic actions required when you start to think about naming your business. My next post will get down to the nitty gritty and provide some tangible tips to help you find a successful business name.

When entrepreneurs start a new venture, they can often be found at sites like Hover and GoDaddy, plugging in various URLs to figure out what they should name their company.

We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard someone say, “we couldn’t think of anything so we just picked something where we could get a .com.”

It’s not really the best tactic. After all, how can you name your business perfectly if you’re relying on the internet to feed you its suggestions?

Let’s imagine we’re trying to name an app that helps brides create their wedding seating plans. We’d plug something like this in to Hover, a site where you can buy domains.

You have to admit– these names are pretty boring.

Your name is literally the first thing anyone hears you say when you talk about your company.

Your name is your pitch.

So, let’s get to work coming up with awesome names. Here are some best practices and ideas for success.

Make it Easy to Spell and Say

One of the reasons we changed our name from GotVMail to Grasshopper was because it was hard for people to spell. We do radio advertisements, so it’s important that people understand our name right when they hear it.

If your name is easy to spell and say, it makes it that much easier for people to find your website, connect with you on social media, and gush about you to colleagues and friends.

A lot of people run into trouble when they incorporate their last names into their business names because they can be hard to spell. If you believe it’s the right choice, go for it, but remember people might have trouble when it comes time to search you on the web.

Avoid numbers, letters, abbreviations, alternate spellings, and anything else that might trip people up.

Choose a Kooky Name to Get the URL You Want

Because so many URLs are taken, entrepreneurs are starting to pick out random made up words for their businesses. Kaggle, a platform for data scientists, is a good example. The word is completely random– and its founders chose it for that reason.

Anthony Goldbloom of Kaggle wrote an algorithm to find a startup name. He wanted to find all pronounceable combinations of letters whose URLS weren’t already gobbled up. When his program spit out Kaggle and Sumble, he and his colleagues chose Kaggle.

You don’t have to create an algorithm, but it might be a good idea to make up a random (but pronounceable) word for your startup. Entrepreneurs who’ve done this are happy their name is distinct, allowing them to build a totally unique brand.

Use .co, .io, .net or Another Alternative

We’re all after the elusive .com, but tons of successful startups have opted for other endings such as .fm, .net, .co, .org, and others.

If you have your heart set on Lovebirds.com, try out Lovebirds.is or Lovebirds.me.

Clarity.fm, HelpScout.net, canary.is, and directr.co have all opted for alternative endings because many .coms come with hefty price tags or are simply unavailable.

Get creative– sometimes you can incorporate your business name into your web domain. We know a guy whose name is Tim Willis. His personal photography website is TimWill.is. Clever, right? Makes us want to get Grasshopp.er.

Be Relevant and Relatable to Your Audience

Names like Kaggle are fun, and distinct, but … wait … what does Kaggle do again? If your company does something unique, then you might want to stick with a conventional name. Otherwise, you might confuse people.

When people hear or see Garment Valet, they get the hunch that someone’s about to do their laundry. The name Unbounce is another great example, as the company helps reduce bounce rates for landing pages (effectively unbouncing them).

You can try out Bust-A-Name to see if you can couple your specialties with an available domain name.

Change Your Name if You Have to

Changing your company name from CuteCoffeeCups to Camby is a huge undertaking, but don’t shy away from changing your name if it’s just not working for you. Just make sure you have a good reason (or multiple good reasons), as well as a PR strategy in place to get the word out about the change.

SEOmoz recently changed their name to Moz in an effort to rebrand and shed the weighted SEO label. Although Moz is passionate about SEO, they felt that their brand embodied so much more than optimizing websites for Google search results. They wanted a company name that would reflect that.

Not only did Moz make the change, but they launched a new product at the same time, and detailed their reasoning in a lengthy blog post by the CEO. The new product coupled with the transparent reasoning helped Moz to gain ground when they made the change, rather than lose it.

Beware: Changing your name is a huge to-do and not to be taken lightly. Make sure you have a kick-butt promotional campaign to go along with your name change.

Pick Names that Make People Feel Good

Your customers are the most important people in your company, so make sure you pick a name that makes them feel good. If they feel fun and free when they’re using your product or services, they’ll be happy they chose you.

You can pick a name that makes people feel cool, smart, fun, or kind. Consider using an animal in your name to boost happiness. MailChimp has Freddie, a monkey mascot, that pops up in the user portal. MailChimp is a B2B product, but it’s still fun, playful, and lighthearted. (We think Freddie really helps).

Choose a happy-go-lucky name that makes customers feel as though they’ve made the right choice.

Pick a Word You Like and Add an Ending

This principle is how we came up with our Startup Name Generator. So many companies are cropping up with -co, -biz, -able, -ly, and -ify tagged on.

Naming a business properly is really important, rather that’s something which will remain with your business forever. It isn’t easy to name a business.

There are a lot of parameters you need to keep in mind before you can name a business. If you go by the business books, understanding the market and competition plays a crucial role in the naming of a business.

So, if you are in a fix on how to name your business, here’s a quick guide on how you can successfully name a business without much trouble.

11 Steps to Name A Business Successfully

Remember, a business will create a niche out of its name that will not only appeal to your business but also attract different kinds of customers.

So, do follow each point mentioned below carefully for a successful result.

1. Legal Considerations

The very first step before finalizing a business name is to check whether it is already been taken or not. Also, check if already a trademark registration has already been done with the chosen name. Every country has an official site to check this. For example, if you are from the United States, you can check online at USPTO.gov to find if the name is still available to not for registration.

2. The Business Name Must be Simple, Yet Unique

Coming up with something that’s simple for people to understand is the key to naming a business. You need to brainstorm ideas and names on what you want to go with and what your business conveys. Start with simple words, chalk out similar names and meanings, and go with something that is unique and has an appeal.

For a trial, you can even try some name choices with a few of your potential customers, investors, and staff.

3. Understanding The Market before you Select

You need to understand your target market properly and the areas you want to operate. Markets have different segments and audiences, so do understand your type and set of target customers before you finalize your business name.

As you may expand with time, avoid names that will stop your business to move around or add any other product to its portfolio.

4. Name Must be Easy To Pronounce, Write and Remember

Your business name should have not been something that people can’t even pronounce. Keep it easy and simple so people can easily pick up the name. An easy name will help customers to recall your brand, products, and services.

The key is to go for a business name that provides some information about what you do.

5. Name Should Match Your Business

A name that will provide some information about your business is an add-on. Your business name should match your business and what you do. This will help you to gain your own audience, and people can recall your brand that will remind them of the services and products you offer.

Also, make sure that your business name has no negative or obscene connotations in any language.

6. Understand The Competition

A good idea of the competitor will provide you with a business plan that can help you to grow in the market. So, naming your business according to what your competitors are going through may actually help you to stay ahead. This will bridge up a gap prompting customers to choose you over your competition.

Naming against your competition does not mean any obscure word that makes no sense. Always go with traditional word spelling and something better than what’s already available in the market.

7. Be Relevant

Remember the name you are going to choose for your business is going to be your identity probably forever, be it the company or your product line or services. Keeping it simple will do your job, but make sure it’s relevant at the same time.

Business names that are straightforward and relevant have more recall potential among customers.

8. Avoid Trends

If you are going to name a business as per any particular ongoing trend, do remember that this will only work for a particular amount of time. You may get a kickstart at the beginning, but as the trend will start to slow down, your business will see the same way down the lane.

You will have a business that has to work in the long-term, so strictly avoid considering trends while naming your business.

9. Be Creative

Try to be creative with the name as much as possible. A completely unique name may actually pay off well as coined names are often more meaningful than the existing words. This also adds to the chances of your business becoming more popular.

Try experimenting with new forms of spellings of the words already available, but avoid names that are too narrow or too literal.

10. If You Are Not Able To Choose A Business Name

If you are having trouble picking up a name for your business, don’t worry, there’s a simple solution. There are a lot of business name generators available in the market that will help you to pick up a name for your business.

You can use the online domain name generators tools to find a proper name for your business. You may hire a trademark attorney to get the search report.

As an add-on, you will also bring in the details regarding domain availability and social media handles.

11. What Next If You Have The Business Name Ready

In case you are ready with a name for your business, it’s now time for some online research. Starting with legal compatibility to an official domain to social media handles, it’s really important that you have everything available in some form or so. You can check the availability of a relevant domain name for free below:

This may look obvious, but a miss in one of these will cost you a fortune.

Also, make sure that the website URL you choose is a .com domain name unless your business is region-specific.

How to name your business

Picking a killer name for your business is harder than it might seem.

One of the things to think about when choosing a company name is how it will look in the subject line of an email, according to cloud-based analytics company DataHero. Then there’s how it will sound when it’s said aloud. A number of leading companies in recent history have chosen names with between five and 10 letters and at least one hard consonant: Google, Starbucks, Verizon.

Before naming your company, check out these tips from entrepreneurs who have been through the process, some of whom have even named the same company more than once.

1. Don’t rush the process.

There’s no set amount of time it should take for you to settle on a name for your company, but know that it could take six months of iterating before you make a final decision. An important thing to remember is to continue working on other aspects of the business as you get closer to picking a name, says Charlie Miner, founder of furniture and lighting e-commerce company WorkOf. “You don’t want the process of naming to prevent you from moving the business forward,” he says.

2. Think about your audience.

Venture capital database CB Insights was initially founded under the name Chubby Brain, something co-founder Anand Sanwal says represented his attempt to come up with a name that was cool, funky, and “startup-sounding.” Sanwal’s philosophy changed after he heard from the investment banks and other institutional clients that would be citing his startup’s data in their marketing materials. “Nobody wanted to put ‘Source: Chubby Brain’ at the bottom of a deck, because it’s not a real big credibility builder,” Sanwal says.

3. Make it easy to spell.

It’s okay to use unique spelling, a la Chick-fil-A, but don’t make your company’s name so unconventional that it’s hard to remember. “I’ve seen some startup names where I’ll think, was that four ‘E’s’ or three?” CB Insights’s Sanwal says.

4. Short is better than long.

Not every company can have a short, simple, one-syllable name like Box, Dell, or Lyft, but if you come up with a great long name and a great short name, you should probably go with the short one. Acquiring the rights to short web domain names, however, can be pricey, if not impossible, so make sure to check the availability of your desired URL first.

5. Factor in search engine optimization.

Making your company easy to find in search engines is an important consideration when picking a name. If you’re going to use a proper noun for your name, you should think about how that decision will impact SEO. Choosing a common term like “Bell,” for example, would make it hard to place your company on the first (or second) page of search results on Google.

6. Enlist a focus group (or groups).

Once you have a shortlist of names you like, it’s a good idea to see how other people respond to each one. “Survey as many people as you can,” says Bridie Loverro, co-founder of QuadJobs, an online marketplace connecting college and grad students to local employers. “The name to choose may not necessarily be the one people like best, but the one they remember most.”

7. Keep your options open.

Having to change your name after pivoting from one business model to another isn’t the end of the world, but if you can pivot and still retain the brand identity you’ve already built up, that’s ideal. Picking a name that doesn’t pigeonhole your company to one specific service will help. “The goal is to create something that is broad enough to intuitively answer who you are and that speaks to your core customer base, but also gives you room to grow into other areas,” says Logan Sugarman, co-founder of wellness concierge service Refresh Body.

8. Keep mobile in mind.

If customers can buy your products through a mobile app, you might want to factor in how your company name will look on a mobile app icon. A friendly sounding name like Shopify might also lend itself better to mobile users compared a three-letter acronym that doesn’t convey anything about your brand.

9. Don’t obsess over a descriptive name.

The name of your company doesn’t have to make it clear what your business is. While it helps to reference the spirit of your brand in some way (think: food delivery company Seamless), avoid a name that sounds specific to an entirely different industry. As Neil Patel, co-founder of web analytics company Crazy Egg writes, the name NomNom suggests food, and therefore doesn’t work if you’re starting a financial services software-as-a-service company.

10. Make the name visually distinctive.

After you pick your name, you should consider adding a custom feature that makes the brand more than just the word or words in the title. Some examples include unconventional capitalization, combining two words into one, or adding a unique design touch, like the curled “C” in the first letter of the bedding startup Casper. “It’s about developing a more fully fleshed out visual identity,” says WorkOf’s Miner.

One of the first big challenges in starting a business ­ whether a large or one-person business, online or brick-and-mortar — is not the writing of the business plan nor looking for funding or setting up the office or opening the bank account. It is the process of searching and choosing of the right business name.

How to name your business

Looking for the most appropriate business name can be very challenging because the word or group of words that you choose as your name can make or unmake your product or services. The name embodies your brand: it is who and what you are in the eyes of your customers, suppliers, financiers and competitors.

Selecting the right business name is crucial for a number of reasons:

  • It is your customer’s first contact with your company and its products.
  • It is what consumers use to talk about your product to other, potential customers.
  • The right brand name makes consumers and other businesses want to use your product or associate with your company.
  • The right brand name is what consumers remember when they want to use your product again.
  • The right brand name begins the sale for you. It is your first sales rep, one that works for you around the clock, 7 days a week.

Business names are not “spur of the moment” creations. It is the result of possibly long days and nights of brainstorming, digging the Thesaurus for synonyms and antonyms, interrelated words and words that has some kind of relationship with the proposed business activity. The big companies even hire expensive consultants to help them choose the right name for their business or product.

The easiest business name to form requiring minimal effort is through the use of personal initials or full names. Others combine the names of the owners. This approach gives the impression that customers can expect the personal attention and care of the owner. Just make sure that your name is easy to remember and will ring a bell on people’s ears.

Using your personal name as your business name works well if you already have a proven track record in your field and leveraging your name could attract customers. Take for example finance and Wall Street companies: many carry the names of their founders who have had a long solid background in investing to represent credibility and wealth of knowledge.

Some names such as “Everlasting Flower Shop” and “Long Life Mortuary Services” connoting longevity are quite common in the Orient and the Far East. The names “New Life” “New Light” “New Hope” show some kind of a revival spirit. Home Sweet Home Rehabilitation Center is a good name for those who are confined. EverSure, Everlast shows confidence and endurance. Fresh Smell Cleaners gives a built-in assurance of cleanness for a laundry shop.

Using foreign language can also depict the company’s origin and also international activities. Names using, “Compania General” or “Companie Internationale” or “GmbH” displays Spanish, French or German influence.

To be listed ahead of everyone in a directory, some companies choose words that start with a number or start with the letter “A”.

Since the name is the showcase of your business, there are a number of key pointers that you need to consider when creating your business name:

1. It should be appealing and easy to use.

The name should be easy to understand, spell, and pronounce. It should be something that people can easily repeat, and most of all, remember. It should be distinguishable from your competitors. Most important of all, it should have the potential of becoming a by-word in the line of business you are in.

2. Get ahead of the pack.

If most of your potential customers will use the telephone directory to search for companies in your business, consider your position in the telephone directory listing when you think of a name. Adding words like “The” or “A” before your name can change your position in the directory. Be cautious in using acronyms or abbreviations, as these can confuse your potential customers.

3. Make room for expansion.

Even if you are operating a highly niched product, select names that would represent a broader category of your product line. Names that state a particular product can limit you if you want to expand your line. The name Antique Horses may hinder you when you want to sell antique furniture, trunks and lamps that do not depict horses in their designs.

4. Emphasize your business image.

Adjectives describing your product or service can be effectively used in a business name. The cleaning company “Merry Maids” has successfully projected the image of cleaning workers that are too happy to do their jobs. They want to leave the impression that their happy workers will go to great lengths to make their customers happy.

5. Use a Distinct Business Name.

Forget about the lure of using a name similar or identical to that of another business. If you call your line of equestrian sporting apparel “Polo Sporting Designs,” the holder of the trademark “Polo” ­ the giant Ralph Lauren ­ may slap you with a lawsuit.

At any rate, the choice of a business name must be given a very serious thought because this will be the “flag” of the business. Once you have chosen the word or group of words, it will be with you for as long as you are in business and sometimes, even if others may have taken over and you have gone to pursue other lines of endeavor.

Recommended Books on Choosing Your Business Name:

How to name your business

Dreaming up the perfect business name then waiting with bated breath to see if someone has beaten you to the punch is a rite of passage for all business owners. Finding the right name can be a rewarding experience, so you want to be able to use it.

How to name your business

Enter words related to your business to get started.

How to Check Business Name Availability

How to name your business

Learn how to check to see if the name for a business is available with this easy, step-by-step how to guide.

Check DBA registrations.

Determine whether you are a sole proprietor or partnership.

If you are a sole proprietor or partnership and your business name differs from the full, legal name of the business owner, then you are required to file for a Doing Business As (DBA) name. This is a secondary, fictitious name that is different from the company’s legal name, as sole proprietors and partnerships are not registered as corporations, and therefore not required to file entity formation papers.

Check for DBA availability at your Secretary of State website.

How to name your business

Trademark infringement laws still apply to DBAs, however, so if you are a sole proprietor or partnership, you need to check for DBA availability with your Secretary of State.

Do a trademark business name search.

Check the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office.

How to name your business

The U.S. Trademark and Patent Office has a searchable trademark database that allows business owners to see if a trademark has been registered or applied for. Start by searching the business name.

The search will inform you of three things: whether there is a similar trademark if it is used on related products or services, and whether it is currently live. Meeting all three criteria will result in a refusal of your trademark so as to avoid confusion.

Failure to check the trademark office can result in an intellectual property lawsuit, so you want to do this.

States differ in their naming requirement laws, so check the specific requirements that apply to your state.

Think of the different ways your name could be spelled or phrased.

How to name your business

A business name could exist in many forms. Try out different spellings and styles when you search for it, as something similar might come up.

Check the LLC registry.

Go to your state's LLC registry website.

How to name your business

If you are incorporating as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), you should check your state’s LLC registry. Go to your secretary of state’s website and conduct a business name search. This will tell you if there is an LLC registered with that name in your state.

Google it.

Search for the name on Google.

How to name your business

While Googling your business name is no sure-fire way of discerning its availability, it is a useful first step. Businesses often have websites, Facebook accounts, and Twitter profiles using their name, so a quick search will likely tell you if that name is in use.

Bear in mind that results are not conclusive. A website or social media account does not mean that name is registered, nor does a lack of results mean the name is available. Always check the trademark office for confirmation.