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Tips for Choosing a Business Name that is Unique, Web-Ready, and Legally Yours! Part 1

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Tips for Choosing a Business Name that is Unique, Web-Ready, and Legally Yours! Part 1

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: August 25, 2009 Updated: November 28, 2012

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. 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.

Stay tuned for my next post on legalizing and protecting your business name.

Additional Resources

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

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Comments:

great information. Choosing a good business name with the matching domain name is vital. there are some great domain name generators listed here http://excitemental.com/2013/10/07/domain-name-generators/ which can be helpful when looking for a name which is available.. Make sure you check whether any trademarks are on the name as well.. very important
Always amazes me the amount of people that pick a rubbish name I have competion called smithys and Lankys taxis ha ha makes my company Airport Cars Durham sound so much better!!!
It is very important to spend enough time considering the right name for your business. This really can influence the success or failure of your business and make a huge impact when trying to attract new customers.
Thanks For this information
Caron, Another point I'd like to make is that you may want your domain to be keyword-rich. For instance, a domain like dogfoodmania.com will be found by search engines more easily than a catch domain without keywords like houndchow.com. If your internet marketing budget is going to be small, it's a good idea to include keywords in your domain, as bgcee has noted.Of course, one can always go overboard with a domain like bathroom-interior-light-fixtures.com and disobey some of the rules you mentioned in your post (e.g., easily remembered domain, sounds catchy). Before deciding on keywords, use Google's keyword analysis tool. Also, a friend and I created a domain name suggestions tool that helps one find creative and available domain names. David S --- This post was edited to remove a commercial link.
According to some of the information detailed in this article, I named my latest affiliate business site Hemorrhoids_Cure-Treatment.com. I purposely chose the main Title for my website and pages/articles from specific well searched keywords that relate to my products via the free Google Keyword tool. ThanksMessage Edited by ChristineL on 11-27-2009 11:40 AM
This is good information. you can look at google webmaster tools/blogs they give some great information for free. Yahoo and Bing also do the same. I would recommend going to their websites and ready it a bit before you register your domain name. you want your website optimized even including your website name.Message Edited by NicoleD on 09-08-2009 11:38 AM
Caron, Another point I'd like to make is that you may want your domain to be keyword-rich. For instance, a domain like dogfoodmania.com will be found by search engines more easily than a catch domain without keywords like houndchow.com. If your internet marketing budget is going to be small, it's a good idea to include keywords in your domain, as bgcee has noted.Of course, one can always go overboard with a domain like bathroom-interior-light-fixtures.com and disobey some of the rules you mentioned in your post (e.g., easily remembered domain, sounds catchy). Before deciding on keywords, use Google's keyword analysis tool. Also, a friend and I created a domain name suggestions tool that helps one find creative and available domain names. David S --- This post was edited to remove a commercial link.
According to some of the information detailed in this article, I named my latest affiliate business site Hemorrhoids_Cure-Treatment.com. I purposely chose the main Title for my website and pages/articles from specific well searched keywords that relate to my products via the free Google Keyword tool. ThanksMessage Edited by ChristineL on 11-27-2009 11:40 AM
This is good information. you can look at google webmaster tools/blogs they give some great information for free. Yahoo and Bing also do the same. I would recommend going to their websites and ready it a bit before you register your domain name. you want your website optimized even including your website name.Message Edited by NicoleD on 09-08-2009 11:38 AM

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