A Guide to Choosing Your Business Name

The idea for a business normally comes first, then the dreaded task of finding the perfect name. You want that name that is everything - explains what you have to offer, shows your strengths, represents your unique offering... But how on earth do you go about choosing a name that represents how great you and your services are?

This is a common struggle for any budding business. I found this out first hand while working with an upcoming branding client. We were planning out the timeline for her branding schedule and then she nonchalantly mentioned that she needed to pick out a name first. I found it surprising and kind of funny how she was like, oh yeah, I need to do that. 

The good news is, like my client, the decision for picking out a name doesn’t need to hinder you from starting. You can always begin to get the ball rolling even without having a finalized name. So I’m writing this post with my client in mind, and for anyone else who is ready to start their business but are stuck at this point.


Before we get into specifics, here are a couple things to do when you’re first rolling around ideas in your head. These two points take care of legal issues you may come across and also logistical issues. They are:


Do a trademark search

Make sure the name you’re wanting isn’t taken, or worse, trademarked. If it is, you could have legal action taken against you. Go to the Trademark Database and search trademarks. It would be the United States Patent and Trademark Office found at this site www.uspto.gov/trademarks 


Do a Domain search

Another great thing to do before deciding on a name is to do a quick Google search to make sure the name you’re wanting isn’t already taken. The last thing you want to do is pick out the perfect name and find out you can’t use it for your website.

Another tip, which I added in recently from a comment below, is to do a search through a hosting site, such as Hostgator, Bluehost, or GoDaddy. Doing a search through these sites is the most accurate way to find out if it's available.

Now that that’s out of the way let’s go over the two ways to choose a name. 

You can use your full name or last name and tack on “designs” or “photography” or “events” on the end. 

Or you can choose a name that stands alone, that is not related to your name at all. There are pros and cons to both choices and I’ll just name a few to help you in your search for the perfect name.



If You want to go with your name


Such as Marissa Cribbs Photography, Alec Vanderboom Photographic Services. The Mullikin Studio, Unruh Furniture and Nesha Designs


Pro: It will mostly likely be available for social media handles 

Pro: Seems approachable. Something that is nice when working with say, Marissa Cribbs Photography is that you know you’ll be working wth Marissa

Pro: It appears to be accessible and personal 


Con: There’s not a lot of opportunity to grow. Not saying expansion is off limits or out of the question, but it may come off as confusing

Con: May seem inexperienced. Anyone can use their own name to start a business and to some extent it may show that you are not “legit” or have the experience a company may be looking for



If You want a stand alone name


Examples include Elle and Company, Spruce Rd., Paper and Honey, Prairie Letter Shop, Salted Ink and R Artspace! (I had to throw myself in there!).


Pro: Looks experienced

Pro: Appears professional

Pro: There’s room for growth, if you want to hire employees down the road, it’s easier for expansion

Pro: Opportunity to be unique


Con: If you’re a solopreneur, it may be confused with a larger business

Con: May need some clarification to customers. A name generic like R Artspace or Spruce Rd may need a little more explaining but, it's worth it if you're goal in the future is to grow



A few more quick tips


When you’re choosing a name for your business, it’s helpful to have your name related to your area of expertise, such as Prairie Letter Shop. You know it has to do with letters and the midwest perhaps, which can be fun to come up with a description for what you have to offer.

Sometimes the name can be vague, which is fine, you just may need to put more thought into how to explain what you do, such as Paper and Honey or Spruce Rd.

With my own business name I wanted the word “art” to be in the title because that’s a huge part of my unique perspective with design. My designs and work have a fine art touch to them because that is my background with design. So I loved the name Artspace because it was somewhat vague but still had the word art hinting at creativity. And the “R” I threw in the beginning cause it’s both my first and last initial but I also like that it sounds like “our” when you say it. The name I choose seems inclusive and open - which is exactly what I wanted.

The goal with choosing a name is to come up with something you love and if you’re coming up with a stand alone name, be memorable and try to stand out with something really original. But always keep your business vision in mind. 

Another tip when choosing a name is to give yourself time to sit on it for awhile. It's good if you've had a couple months to let the name marinate and see if you still love it or if you're on the fence about it.

So those are some things to think about when choosing a biz name. I hope you’ve found these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments!


How did you come to decide on your business name?

Was it difficult deciding?

What was the deciding factor to go with the name you have now?