If you started a small business during quarantine, you might find yourself wondering what to name this fledgling startup.

The process of naming a small business is one that requires considerable thought and creativity. This name, after all, is a trademark for your business. It will be able to uniquely identify your business from its competition. Customers should also be able to tell what your business does just by hearing its name. Naming a business often lends itself to rookie mistakes, ranging from not conducting a name search prior to filing a trademark application to brainstorming a name so complicated not even the owner knows how to spell it.

Small business name search

Ready to give your new business a great, memorable name that will lead it to long-term success? Here’s what you need to know about getting started naming a small business.

Keep business names simple

Many startups believe the best way to name a business is to choose the most unique name possible. This approach has been proven to work for some businesses, like Google. The quest to give a business an unusual name often becomes heavily muddled. Business owners may place too much focus on a strange misspelling or make the name too long.

The best advice is to give your business a simple business name. This name should be easy to spell and pronounce. You can be creative in coming up with a business name, but that does not mean you must be choose something that is too obscure.

Still struggling to figure out where to start with your business name? It’s recommended that entrepreneurs pick out a name that is five to 10 letters in length with at least one consonant in the word or phrase.

Say the business name out loud

Once you have a business name that you’d like to use for your company, take a moment to say it out loud. Ask yourself these questions after you say the name.

  • How does it sound? Do you feel interested by the name and ready to learn more or compelled to laugh because it’s too silly?
  • Is a form of alliteration present? This isn’t a requirement for naming a business. However, it has proved to be successful in naming brands like lululemon and TED Talks.
  • Does the business name reflect your brand and its offerings?

Remember that the name of your business will be used across a wide variety of media ranging from in-store signage to social media handles. The name of your business should sound meaningful to your target audience. If you need to test the sound of your business name on a wider audience, ask a friend to say it out loud. Get their feedback on how it sounds and if they can tell what your business does upon hearing the name.

Business name search

Conduct a name search prior to filing a trademark application

You’re getting ready to file a trademark application to protect the name of your business (i.e. its trademark). This will give you, the business owner, exclusive rights to the mark and ensure nobody infringes upon it.

However, before you can begin filing trademark application paperwork you will need to conduct a name search. This search may be done through a third party service or by using the USPTO’s trademark database.

Conducting a name search enables you to find out if the mark is unique and available to trademark. You may find that similar marks, if not the exact same ones you were brainstorming, have already been registered or are pending registration. If this is the case, keep brainstorming new ideas for your business name.

However, if there are no pending or registered applications for this trademark, your mark is officially available to register for your business. File a trademark application, pay a small filing fee, and federally register the mark to claim the name for your own usage. Then, you may begin to use the name in association with all of your services and offerings and emphasize its originality with the world.